First, I am not a fan of those “what not to say” blogs that inevitably pop up on any given subject. Most of the time, I find these blogs describing missed opportunities to educate. So, I realize the irony in my writing one. However, it’s Adoption Awareness month, so here I go.
7 Things You Should Not Say To Adoptive Parents
1 :: Adopted is a verb; adoptive is an adjective. My child is not adoptive; she was adopted as an infant. Adjectives are qualifiers, and my family doesn’t feel the need to qualify her in this way. It’s unnecessary. And while it’s not exactly a secret, we don’t broadcast that she was adopted. She’s ours. Our names are on her birth certificate. And right now, her privacy is our number 1 concern. We believe that how we came to be a family is not anyone’s business. So, please don’t call my daughter “adopted” unless you also call children “biological” on a daily basis. I’ve certainly never asked anyone if their child came out of their vagina. Asking if a child was adopted, is crass. Don’t be crass.
2 :: Don’t ask about the birth parents. If this is someone you know well, they’ll tell you. And if not, why do you need the info?
3 :: If you know someone has adopted, ask them before you spread their news. For some, it’s an intensely private experience. We once had a family member tell someone my husband had worked with 10 years before that we had adopted. Why? I have no freaking clue. I don’t know why this person had to be told anything; but anything other than, “They have a daughter now,” is way too much information for anyone other than us to share.
4 :: Some people adopt because they have medical issues and cannot have children biologically. This is none of your business. If you don’t understand this, please re-read until you do. If you are close enough to the parents to know if this is the case, awesome. If not, it’s not your concern.
5 :: Don’t ask in front of children. I have a cousin who was interested in adoption. He came to me and specifically asked if we would share our experience. This is the time, place, and only way to do this. It was respectful, thoughtful, and we had a great time talking. Just don’t ask us about our daughter in front of our daughter.
6 :: I don’t know why but people insist on telling people who’ve adopted because of infertility, “Now you’ll get pregnant and have one of your own.” Uh … okay, that does happen … sometimes. And yes, I know what you meant, but you just made me feel horrible for not being able to make a baby in my body and completely disregarded everything I went through to get my child. And you managed to do that at the same time. So, think twice before telling anyone that gem. Also, my daughter is “my own.”
7 :: And lastly (and I really wish this went without saying, but sadly it doesn’t), it is never, NEVER appropriate to bring up or discuss the fact that a child is not a parent’s biological child in public. Not ever. It will completely take the parent off guard and probably stun them into silence.
If you are interested in learning more about becoming certified to foster and adopt in Louisiana, please visit the Department of Children & Family Services website.