Say This, Not That

Six alternative things to say when talking to adoptive parents about their children and adoption.

I love a website called “Eat This, Not That,” which gives you alternative choices of foods to eat when faced with something unhealthy or high in calories. I thought this was a good idea not only for food, but for things to say to adoptive parents.

Say This:
1. Say This: "What do his birthparents look like?"
Not this: "Does he look a lot like his real mom and dad?"

Remember that the parent is the "real" mom or dad. They're not fake in any way.
Say This:
2. Say This: "Do you mind me asking how much it costs to adopt?"
Not This: "How much did you pay for her?"

The adoption cost money. The child was not something the parent bought at the supermarket.
Say This:
3. Say This: "You're so lucky to be his parents"
Not This: "He is so lucky that you are his parents!"

Often times, people assume that the child was in a very bad situation before being adopted, so they think the child is so lucky to have the parents. Ask any parent, adoptive or biological, and they will tell you that they are indeed the lucky ones.
Say This:
4. Say This: "I'm so happy for you!"
Not this: "I don't know if I could love a baby that wasn't biologically mine"

This was said to me a couple weeks after my son was born while I was showing pictures of him to a few of my friends. This comment made me feel like she thought she loved her baby more than I loved mine. That my love for my son was different than other mothers'. I wish she would have just said congratulations or something similar instead.
Say This:
5. Say This: "What a beautiful family you have!"
Not This: "Which ones are yours and which ones are adopted?"

If you don't know them well enough to know the answer already, than you probably shouldn't be asking this at all. This question has been asked several times to a friend of mine whose children are Asian, Caucasian and African. It is usually asked while at public places like the grocery store by complete strangers. Remember that the children can hear you, and you don't know how it may make them feel.
Say This:
6. Say This: "I think it is wonderful you adopted your children"
Not This: "Now that you've adopted, I bet you'll get pregnant. I hear that happens all the time!"

Families adopt in order to build their families. They adopt to become parents. They adopt because they love their children. Adoption is not a means to eventually hit a higher goal of getting pregnant. The highest goal was already achieved. By saying this, it feels like you are undervaluing the importance of this child and how he or she came to the family. And most people who are unable to get pregnant and later adopt do not end up pregnant later. Even though you know someone who has, it is definitely not the norm. And for those who do become pregnant later, it is not because they adopted.
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