It Drives Me Crazy When People Say These Things About Adoption

Everyone in the adoption community hears them, but I’ve been surprised how often these statements come up.

Amy Harmon September 07, 2016
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Adoption has been around for ages. But in spite of its permanency in history, people still say things that show how little they really understand. I’ve been surprised how often these statements come up. Everyone in the adoption community hears them. Here are a few of the routine questions and comments that drive me crazy.

“I could never give up a child.”

There are so many things I despise about this statement. For starters, no one gave up on this child. A life was prayed for, searched for, and chosen for that child. It was a process of love and nothing short of a feat of strength. I am not sure why people say this phrase. I try to make a habit of looking at the intention of what people are trying to say. I understand that people don’t always choose the right words, and sometimes you need to translate their words into what they truly meant to communicate. I have yet to figure out the intention of this statement. It always comes across as judgmental and pointless.

“So his real parents couldn’t keep him?”

I really can’t handle yes/no questions about adoption. These statements formed as questions (AKA high resolution terminators) completely oversimplify a very difficult life experience. There is so much more to our story than a simple yes or no answer. And every situation is vastly different from one another. I know that when people ask this question, they really just want to know more about our story. I usually try to clarify. I ask them, “Are you asking about our adoption story? There is so much to tell, and it is incredible.” Also, the phrase “real parents” is frustrating in any context.

“So you couldn’t have a child of your own?”

I did have a child of my own. Through adoption. And if they are asking about our fertility status, that is entirely none of their business. And again, yes/no questions imply there is only one reason to adopt, and they seem to think they know it already. There are many reasons that people choose to adopt. Maybe the real question they want to know is “what led you to adoption?” But again, that is an incredibly personal question. People rarely ask someone what led them to pregnancy, because that is obviously inappropriate.

“They had two children, and they adopted one.”

So they had three children. There is never a need to divide the biological and adopted children into teams. They are all children in the same family.

“Adoption breaks apart families.”

People who say this are clearly members of the glass-is-half-empty camp. Adoption builds families. It creates families. The child has a family. The parents have a family. A birth parent is still a part of that family and will be remembered for generations. Adoption respects families.

“He looks just like you!”

I know my child was adopted. He knows he was adopted. We are also aware that aside from brown eyes, we don’t look alike. I think people are well meaning with this statement, but it drives me crazy, nonetheless. Biology doesn’t make a relationship more legitimate. I can, and do, love a child who doesn’t look like me. I love him in the same way I love my biological children. I love his brown eyes, but not because they match my eye color. And for the record, my biological children have blue eyes. They look nothing like me either. And I love them too.

“Now that you’ve adopted, you’ll probably get pregnant without any trouble.”

Adoption is not an infertility treatment. Adoption is one way families have children. Pregnancy is another way. It is not cause and effect.

“You are such good people, to take in a child like that.”

Wrong. Adopting a child was an incredible blessing for me and my family. From the moment that sweet child was placed in my arms, my life was changed forever. I can only pray that I can become the mother he deserves. I didn’t adopt in order to prove my worthiness to anyone. Adopting a child was not some act of charity. But I hope and pray that I can prove my worthiness to God in providing the life my son deserves. I hope to teach him, learn from him, and make lasting, family bonds.

What drives you crazy? How do you respond to questions and comments like these?

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Amy Harmon

Amy Harmon lives in Kansas with her husband and two boys. Each child was a miracle; the first through adoption and the second through IVF. Her family is her passion, but in addition to that she is an RN, pianist, avid reader, slow jogger and an adoption advocate.


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