There was a television show “Kids Say the Darndest Things” which was hilarious. They interviewed kids who would say typical child misunderstandings. Maybe this could embarrass a parent but they were kids who did not know any better.
People talk without thinking or are clueless. My wife or I have heard these and most more than once. I really am not trying to call anyone out or embarrass and I have said stupid things way too many times. My hope is if you catch yourself thinking any of these common cultural sayings, you’ll stop and find something more useful to do.
- “You can’t love an adopted child like your own.” – Please do not plant seeds of doubt by questioning the love for a child. Pray for them and their hopeful new addition. Your attitude can help cultivate a love before they meet. We loved her before we met her. Upon meeting her the love is the same as holding your child the first time.
- “Do you love your adopted child the same way in which you love your biological child?”, “There will be no real bond.”, “You will regret this later.”, “You will be disappointed because the child will not be like you.”, “Adoptive children never really fit in with the family.” – I love all my children similarly. My relationship to each varies and can look different. However, my love for my biological, adopted, and many foster kids is the same; whether or not they are alive.
- “You did it the easy way by skipping labor and delivery.” – My wife disagrees with this statement. She says “I would rather be pregnant 10 times than go through the adoption process again.” It is a grueling process. People come into your home looking at everything. They comb through your taxes, bank accounts, and jobs. They talk to friends, family, neighbors, and do background checks. Then you have to “market” yourself to people so they will allow you to raise their child. Once you are matched and get attached, they back out to pick a different couple.
- “How much did you pay for your child?” – Buying children is illegal. We have to pay for many things, especially lawyers, and the process is too expensive. Safe homes should not have to pay for the privilege of raising children. Some countries do not make parents pay and America needs to up its game here.
- “Do you hope the biological parents have more kids so you can adopt them too?” – They might be good parents. Why are you telling young mothers to not abort if it means they should give up future children too so they can be with siblings? Sometimes women are not in a position to raise a child but could later.
- “When did you start to love her?” – There is no right answer to this and no right way to ask. Before and after meeting the child you have some people with varying degrees of guilt over what feelings are appropriate mixed with trepidation over possibly not getting the child.
- “Do you think she will have behavior, emotional, or drug problems because of her genetics?” – Will your child? Not all adoptions are from addicts. Do you think behavior is innate? If so, why imprison people for actions they inherited? No, I do not think she will have problems because she is in charge of her own actions.
- “Are you going to tell her she’s adopted?” – This is a very private question. You likely only need the answer if you live in the same house. You should never be the one to tell a child they are adopted unless you become their guardian. We have been very open about her adoption but not all people are and it is their decision.
- “Will you send a card to her real mother on Mother’s Day?” and the related “Do you have a relationship with her real mother?” – So many things wrong with these questions. We are the real parents. Giving birth does not make you a parent. Sending a card implies a relationship which never existed and which a judge severed. If you want to foster a relationship with the person who birthed, it is your choice. We have real reasons for her protection to not have a relationship. This question is beyond rude, it is dangerous to even ask.
- “Do you think she’s acting out because of her genetics?” and “You can blame behavior on the biological parents.” – This nature vs nurture implication would place all the onus on nature. This ignores the values and love instilled which would shape a world-view. Does this person really believe that being loving parents and teaching proper behavior have no affect on a child?
- “She looks so much like you. How’d you do that?” – Makeup can do wonders … Fate … It’s a God-thing. I think next time I might say “I paid the magician extra.”
- “She’s so pretty and smart, who would want to give her away?” – Do people give up babies because they are not pretty or not smart? If most babies look like Winston Churchill and cry a lot, why aren’t most babies put up for adoption? Maybe because it does not work like that. This one baffles me.
- “Did you change her name?” – The problem with the question is it is rude and insensitive. Please assume judges do not terminate rights lightly and name changes are good. Often a hospital has to pick a name until the adoption paperwork completes months later. This can be sensitive and often very private.
We have had people not include our child because she is adopted. It does not matter if the child is adopted, biological, fostered, a step-child, or any other guardianship arrangement. Treat them with love, respect, and equality.
Ask questions about how to talk about Foster Care, Adoption, Miscarriages, Infertility, and Suicide. I will have a post on what people have said for each one. Ask what is appropriate or how to help a loved one through it in the comments below or private message. Have you heard other cliches?
Thanks to Donna Lloyd for helping me remember some quotes.