Here are a few things that you should never say to an adoptive parent…things that I have experienced firsthand. I teach a training on how to talk about adoption in the community and how to respond to all of these difficult questions, so I hear a lot of dumb stuff. Things such as, How much did he cost? Why didn’t their real parents want them? Do you have any children of your own? Most of the time people really just don’t understand what is appropriate to ask and don’t think before they say things. As adoptive parents we have to learn how to respond appropriately because a lot of times these questions are asked while your child is present. Anyway, here is what I have heard thus far…
1. What’s wrong with him? OR I’ve heard so many horror stories about international adoption, haven’t you?
I have seriously been asked those questions by people that should know better. One incident happened last week and she went on and on about the problems that our child would most definitely have. Oh how I wanted to launch across that table and give her a piece of my mind. Sure, there are “horror” stories out there but there are SO many success stories.
2. Why would you adopt internationally when there are plenty of children in the US that need homes?
Now, I am totally fine with this question when asked out of honest curiosity. After all, part of my job is to recruit and train families interested in adopting from US foster care, I get that. But you can tell the intent of people’s questions and I have gotten this one several times in a condescending way. My answer? God led us to international adoption and this specific child AND every child deserves a chance to know Jesus. Argue with that. :)
3. You know, now that you are adopting you will get pregnant.
I’ve talked about this one before…it comes across as having a biological child is the goal of adopting which couldn’t be farther from the truth. It also happens that way very rarely.
4. Any updates?
Such a simple question, spoken from a caring/supportive place, I know. However, when you are asked that question several times a day, and some days, like Sundays at church, you’re asked it about 20 times and you have NO update, it’s a hard question! I want to just print up little cards that say “we have no update…trust me, we will let you know when we have one” and hand them out to people before they even get a chance to ask. That sounds harsh because I know people really do care but it’s not a fun one to give the same uneventful answer to over and over again.
5. One lady asked me once if I had seen that Lifetime special about a child who was adopted internationally and then her “real” parents came forward and the adoptive parents had to return the child to her "real" parents.
How she thought that story was helpful is beyond me. I had to explain to her how you use a reputable agency and that stuff doesn't happen, I also added in how adoptive parents were "real" parents and biological parents I think was the word she was looking for.
6. Oh, that’s a perfect age to bring a child home. You won’t have to deal with any sleep problems, they’ll be almost potty trained…you’ll skip out on all the hard parts.
Again, ignorance…people just don’t understand what a difficult transition it is for adopted children to go from experiencing one place, one language, a rigid schedule, specific caregivers, lots of other babies always being around, etc to taking them away from everything they have ever known, a new language, new people, over-stimulating environment, etc. They will grieve – they will more than likely have a ton of sleeping problems, eating problems, they more than likely will regress – losing skills that they once had, losing their language, learning to communicate again. It’s very sad for adoptive parents to miss out on any of their child’s life, so please don’t blow that off like it’s a positive thing to miss those things. Trust me, we will have plenty of sleepless nights, dirty diapers, etc.
I’m sure there are more but that’s all that’s coming to mind right now. Every single one of us have said things that we regret later, so I am not condemning anyone that has said any of these things, but I do want to educate. :)
All you adoptive parents out there, what inappropriate/frustrating/aggravating questions have you been asked?