Some people don’t get adoption. Whether their questions and concerns are rooted in old understandings of family, personal biases, or even misguided attempts at being helpful doesn’t really matter, because they all come across as equally hurtful when you are in the adoption process.
What do you say to your friends and family — the people whose support you desire the most — when they question your decision to adopt?
These are five of the most common things hopeful adoptive parents hear from people doubting their decision — and five good responses to keep in your back pocket.
Question 1: Don’t you want a child of your own?
Answer 1: Family is more than biology. Family is love.
“Your own” is a phrase that adoptive parents get pretty used to hearing. Many times it is not said with any mal-intent. It’s just part of our cultural and popular understanding of adoption. But, that doesn’t make it any less hurtful.
A child who comes into your family through adoption is no less “your own” than a child who is born into your family biologically.
A parent’s love is a parent’s love. Nothing changes that.
Question 2: Do you really want to deal with a birth parent?
Answer 2: A relationship with a birth parent is a special, amazing opportunity that I am excited for.
Old stereotypes about adoption still hang around, and some of the most common outdated ideas have to do with birth parents. These ideas are, frankly, wrong and harmful.
Women who create an adoption plan for their babies are brave. Adoption is a decision made from love. Open adoption is an opportunity for a child to know that they were chosen by their adoptive parents and deeply loved by their birth mother. Additionally, open adoption maintains a connection to heritage that is very helpful as a child grows and begins to form their identity.
The chance to have a relationship with your child’s birth parents is an amazing opportunity, not a chore that has to be taken care of.
Question 3: Is it really a wise use of your money?
Answer 3: While we know that the cost associated with the process can be high, we believe it is worth it and have made that decision responsibly.
Finances are personal. There’s a case to be made that talking more openly about money could help everyone deal with America’s top stressor. However, it’s generally not appropriate for others to question your financial decisions.
Yes, adoption can be expensive. But when asked about this, simply respond by letting your friend or family member know that you are well aware of the cost and that you did your due diligence before committing.
If you’d like to research this topic more, there are many ways to find help with finances when it comes to adoption.
Question 4: Why didn’t you adopt from foster care?
Answer 4: Each type of adoption is unique, and we know that our adoption is best for our family.
Switch out “foster care adoption” with any type of adoption other than the one you are pursuing, and you’ve got a pretty frustrating question. The base assumption is that children who need to be adopted from certain situations should be adopted first.
This could mean that people question your domestic infant adoption by asking why you didn’t foster to adopt, or it could look like someone telling you that you need to adopt American children first when you are in the middle of an international adoption.
All children should know what it’s like to grow up in a loving family, and all hopeful parents deserve to see their dream of starting a family fulfilled. Each type of adoption has unique pros and cons depending on who you are, but all types of adoption are beautiful ways to start a family.
Question 5: What about IVF?
Answer 5: There are a lot of great family-building options. Adoption is the right one for us.
Healing after a diagnosis of infertility can be a long and challenging road. Choosing the right path forward for your family is a very personal decision. That’s why it can be difficult to respond graciously to questions like this.
Anyone who has chosen adoption has done their research. It’s possible that you have already tried IVF and it didn’t work, which can make this question even more hurtful.
There are many amazing ways to start or grow a family. IVF may be great for someone else, but it’s not right for you. There isn’t a “best” way to do this — just the way that is best for you.
Don’t forget to share this blog with your friends and family through social media to get out ahead of their questions! Remember, at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is that you are comfortable with your family-building journey — and excited for the steps ahead of you.