Deciding to adopt is a momentous decision in someone’s life and the journey to that decision can be filled with a lot of heartbreak, tears, and disappointment. But by the time someone is ready to announce that they’re adopting a lot of the grief has dissipated and is instead replaced by excitement with a twinge of fear.
Or at least, that is how we felt. Like many other couples, the events leading up to our decision to adopt were filled with infertility specialists, medicine, and procedures. After nearly two years (4 years if you count the 2 years we weren’t allowed to get pregnant because of a brain aneurysm) of being unable to get pregnant, we were ready to move on to a different path. After choosing adoption, we decided this was our best option to being parents again and were very excited to announce it to people.
Imagine our disappointment when we were greeted with anything less than someone matching our excitement. To be fair, most people were thrilled as they had followed along with our infertility journey. But the few people with less than stellar reactions compelled me to highlight adoption more.
Here are things you should never say to someone adopting:
Yes, this was the first thing someone said to me. People adopting, just like people who are pregnant, do not have to explain why. That is personal.
Also, your 'why' implies that our decision is not a good one.
If the person adopting chooses to share what led them to their decision, that’s great, but it's not something for you to pry out of them. And it especially shouldn't be anyone’s first sentiment out of their mouth!
2. Did you try IVF (or insert any fertility treatment here)?
Again, this is a personal question. For starters, some people might have been down a long road of fertility treatments and are exhausted from trying them and ready to move on. For others, they might want to forego intense fertility treatments.
There is no right or wrong choice here and neither option is second best.
When someone asks me if I tried IVF after they know that we have decided to adopt, they are implying, to me, that our decision to adopt is not good enough and that I should exhaust all fertility treatments.
3. You’re Giving Up?
Yikes, this really came out of someone’s mouth. I was stunned. Elated, I had just shared with this person the exciting news, and their first thought was that we were giving up. Giving up on what?
Because as far as I’m concerned, adoption will lead us to a beautiful child that is OURS. And that doesn’t feel like giving up to me.
4. You’ll probably get pregnant now that you’re trying to adopt.
This is surprisingly a very common point of view that people like to express to parents deciding to adopt. I’m sure the intentions behind it are pure, but it doesn’t make us feel good.
For starters, there is no scientific data to back up this claim. Sure, a small percentage of people do, in fact, become pregnant, but that has nothing to do with the decision to adopt. Adoption doesn’t suddenly take away the medical reason for infertility some struggled with.
Also, we are not adopting with any hopes or desires to get pregnant. My infertility struggle was real and raw, but I grieved that and now have renewed hope with adoption.
As another parent points out, “Implying that a pregnancy will happen after adoption also implies that adoption is not ‘good enough’ — that biological children through pregnancy is the 'preferred’ way of building a family.”
5. I’m So Sorry
When someone announces that they are adopting to you, there should be no pity or sorrow on your face. Adoption is not a second rate thing. Albeit challenging, adoption is a beautiful process for families looking to become parents or grow their families.
6. You’re So Lucky You Were Able to Have Your First Child
For us, we were able to conceive a first child and successfully give birth to a beautiful boy. Anyone who says that is right. We are so lucky and blessed to have our first child.
However, there is something unwritten in this sentiment. Will we not be lucky to have our second child? Because, the way we see it, we are so blessed that God is leading down this path.
What Should You Say Instead?
Imagine what you would say to a friend or coworker announcing their pregnancy.
Now say that!
- Congratulations! That’s so exciting for you! Have you had any appointments or
- Wow! That’s great news. I’m happy for you!
- That’s awesome! How are you doing and feeling?
- That’s exciting! Please keep me updated on how everything is going.
- Yay! I'll be praying/thinking of you guys. Let me know if there is anything I can do for you.
- You’re glowing! How do you feel about all of this?
- I love this for you! If you ever need to talk if things get hard, I’m here for you.
- OMG! I’m so happy to hear this. How can I support you?
- I’m thrilled for you. What are the next steps?
- You’re going to be such a good parent! I’m excited to hear more about your
Adoption is a different route than pregnancy, but each will lead you to the same result - a child you’ll love very much.
Have you, for better or worse, experienced something similar when announcing your plans to adopt?
Let us know how it went for you in the comments below.
Our next reco: What You Need to Know About My Almost Twins