10 Things Not to Say in the Adoption Community

Man covering his hears

1. “The way you handle open adoption is wrong.” I have found that while some people think we are too open and share too much with our kids’ birth parents, others have called me insecure and narrow-minded for not being more open. Open adoption is different for everyone. It is even different between my two kids. Each situation is unique and I believe we all try to do what is best for everyone involved. There is no need to ridicule someone for being too open or not open enough.

2. “You shouldn’t adopt transracially unless you are willing to move to a diverse community.” I have had this said to me and I have read it in articles. I have also had transracial adoptees tell me they were fine in a less diverse community. Just like each adoption is different, so is each adoptee. Might moving to a diverse community be something your child wants or needs? Yes, but that doesn’t mean you have to move before you adopt.

3. “Be mindful of your words. Your child will hate you for them.” Yes there are some words that our children may be sensitive to and it’s our job as parents to be aware of that. However, when I was told my child would hate me, it put me in a panic. I know that my child will probably say those words as a teenager, but I hope that my words are not the cause.

4. “Don’t take your child’s birthmother for granted.” I would never ever take my children’s birth parents for granted. These wonderful people gave my children life. They made me a parent. While I don’t feel obligated to them, I do feel blessed by them. At the same time, I don’t think that means that I have to shower them with gifts for the rest of my life (as some have suggested).

5. “You shouldn’t have changed your child’s birth name. They will change it back.” When this was said to me, I was shocked. Choosing your child’s name is something so special and the fact that they might change it back to their biological name scared me. With our daughter, her birthmother wanted to name her on the first birth certificate, but wanted no say in her final name. With our son, his birthmother wanted the name we chose to be on his original birth certificate. I get upset when people call me selfish for naming my kids.

6. “We will love this child as our own.” I have seen and heard this phrase so often (mostly in “Dear Birthmother” letters) and it makes me cringe. I understand where people are coming from, but to me that child will be yours. Saying you will love them as your own sort of downplays it. Yet, I’m learning that is really just my personal opinion.

7. “You owe nothing to your child’s birth parents.” While as stated before, I don’t feel obligated to my kids’ birth parents, I feel that they deserve my respect and gratitude for giving my children life and making a plan for them.

8. “ Your child will always feel like something is missing from their life.” I have had many adult adoptees tell me this is true and I’ve had many tell me it is false. My point is, no one should tell someone else this. They don’t know that person’s child or their adoption circumstances. Feel free to share your stories about how you always felt something was missing so we can be aware that this might happen with our children. Just please don’t tell us that it is a fact.

9. “You need to adopt another child of the same race.” I was told this before and after the adoption of my son. I was told to adopt another white child. Then after adopting my black son, I was told I needed to adopt another black child. I understand the importance of race. However, I didn’t let race dictate who my children would be.

10. “You can never properly raise a child of another race.” Is raising a child of another race the same as raising a child of the same race? Yes and no. Children all test limits, make you laugh, and need love. Yet when you are a parent of a child of another race, you do face new challenges. Skin and hair care can be a learning process. Dealing with stares in public is another factor as well. However, do I feel that I cannot raise my son as well as my daughter just because of their race? NO.

Please stop and think before you talk to adoptive parents, birth parents, adult adoptees, and prospective adoptive parents. We are all doing the best we know how.