It starts innocently enough. You begin considering building your family through adoption, so you do a little research. You read all the books in the public library. You read all the articles on the internet. You follow all the adoption bloggers. And then life happens. Your adoption journey unfolds. Your family is not perfect, but it is amazing. And you become, by default, an adoption expert. You don’t mean to come off as a know-it-all, but you are so excited to share your story, to share your wisdom, that it really can’t be helped.

So, I guess, the first step to handling know-it-alls in adoption is to realize that you will probably eventually become one! So please hang in there and give us some grace.

If you’ve encountered a few know-it-alls along your journey, here are a few ideas to keep the peace:

Listen for their hearts. 

Most often, we adoption know-it-alls love adoption. We are passionately committed to our children and want to share that passion, as well as more than enough information, with everyone else. If you ask a seemingly simple question about adoption, the truth is that there is rarely a simple answer. There is no way to answer, “So, how long does it take to adopt?”  or “Why did you choose foster care adoption?” in just a minute. So we will ramble. And our answers might be more story than fact, more experience than numbers. Take a few minutes to listen, even if we give way too much information. Be gracious enough to listen beyond our words and hear our hearts. Hear our passion for our kids. Hear our zeal to empty orphanages, to change laws, to value our children’s birth parents. Even if it doesn’t answer your simple question.

Take what you can. 

Surely in your conversation with an adoption know-it-all, there will be little nuggets that you can take away. A book to read. A website to check out. A contact to call. Take them, graciously, and let the rest be.

Tell them they’re doing a good job. 

Often know-it-alls come off this way because we are needy for affirmation. We fought so hard for our children, for our families, and we want to know that we are doing a good job. We don’t have many opportunities to share our experiences, so when someone asks a question about adoption, we take it as an open door. Want to make your know-it-all’s day? Find something that you see them doing well. And tell them. If you think this will extend the length of your actual conversation unreasonably, send a quick follow up text or e-mail. We know-it-alls want to believe that we aren’t all talk, that we’re doing this parenting thing, this advocacy thing, this life thing well. A quick comment can go a long way.

What are your thoughts? How do you handle the know-it-alls along the path of your adoption journey?