Adoption Language and Three Things Never to Say to a Family

There are certain phrases and questions that send adoptive parents through the roof. They may not look like they are about to blow, but look closely, you may see some steam coming out of the top of their heads, I’ve felt it coming out of mine, all while I had a smile pasted on my face.

I understand adoption has its own lingo. There is a lot of paper work involved in adoption, examining of your home and life (homestudy) and fingerprinting you to  see if you are a criminal. It’s a whole different planet when it comes to being a parent.

Just remember, families are families. Parents are human. Just because someone adopts doesn’t mean you should/could ask parents anything. Let’s turn this around for a minute and pretend you are asking a bio parent these questions.

  1. Your kids don’t look like you. Which ones are your real children?
  2. How much did you have to pay for your kids?
  3. What’s wrong with him? He seems to misbehave all the time. You must not be a very good parent!

How’s that sound? How would you like to be asked those questions point blank at the local zoo or playground.

Let’s look at number one, our kids are our real children. The definition of adoption states that. They are legally part of the family. It’s not a question of eye color, skin color or hair. It’s a legal question. And from the bio side, who doesn’t know at least one family whose kids look nothing like them?  And do people question them as often or freely?

Number two. We all pay for our kids, financially, physically and mentally. Most days it is more of the last two. But, we pay. We just don’t walk around quoting figures. You don’t leave the hospital without that kid racking up a bill for being born, but we don’t talk about it (well, most of us). Can you imagine going to visit your friend in the hospital who had just delivered the cutest little girl you had ever laid eyes on and you say, “How much did you pay for her?”

When a mother is adopting

Number Three. Sometimes we feel like saying this when a child is melting down repitiively, but it is not polite and not helpful. The better thing to say for adoptive parents or bio parents is, “Do you need some help?” Maybe you could get the child a glass of water, or the mother a glass of water. Maybe you could offer to watch the other children on the playground while mom gets the one who needs to calm down some attention. Maybe, if you don’t feel comfortable doing any of those things, you could well, just not stare or say anything at all. Our parenting skills are not the only reason a child will or will not meltdown. There may be other reasons, a special need, a Captial Letter Syndrome (FAS, ADHD, ADD, SPD, RAD). Don’t be quick to judge parenting based on one chid’s behavior. Are all the children in the family struggling with self-regulation? If not, then it is the child struggling, not the parent.

I don’t think it’s difficult to determine what the proper phraseology is for adoptive families, it just takes a few seconds of thought. I’m sure people are curious about adoption and that’s fine. Just don’t ask any question you wouldn’t want to be asked yourself.

It’s adoption Link Up time!


3 thoughts on “Adoption Language and Three Things Never to Say to a Family

  1. Yes to all of these! But ohhhhh number 3. That one really drives me over the edge. Often I feel like my children are EXTRA scrutinized for being adopted. Like people are watching extra closely to see about behaviors they think children who are adopted exhibit. Most of the time it’s just kids being kids!

    1. Exactly, Erin! And what kid walks around spouting thankfulness to mom and dad constantly? Or doesn’t ever whine or pitch a fit? They all do. (I do too sometimes).

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