Adopting my daughter almost three years ago has been an incredible journey. There are highs and lows, but every situation has made our love grow! Adoption isn’t a topic typically discussed unless you are directly impacted, but you never know when a family member or friend may choose adoption! Unless you experience it yourself, many don’t understand the process or the right way to talk about it. I’ve had many people unintentionally insult the way we built our family, and it’s because they simply don’t know any better.
We know you mean well, but knowledge is power, so, here’s 5 things I wish others knew about adoption:
Photo Credit: Roxana Snedeker
Note: For the sake of this article, I will refer to my daughter as my “adopted daughter,” but the first thing to know is that when addressing my family, we prefer both children to be introduced the same and not one as the “adopted child.”
Here we go…
1. Adoption isn’t a plan B.
When I announced we were adopting, most people assumed we weren’t able to have biological children. For some couples, that is their reason for adopting. But for most, it is not. Either way, couples who adopt do not go into it considering their adopted child to be their second choice. When people assume an adoption is a plan B, they unintentionally treat the adopted child like a plan B. When I announced we were pregnant three months after adopting my daughter, so many people approached me with much more excitement saying things like, “Wow! It’s a miracle! They say after you adopt, most people are able to have a baby of their own.”
There are many things wrong with this statement. 1. My adopted daughter is a miracle too. 2. An adoption doesn’t automatically make a person more likely to conceive. 3. An adopted child is my “own” as well. Which leads me to my next tip…
2. An adopted child is just as much a member of my family as my biological child.
There is no difference. Adopted children are our “actual,” “real,” and “own” children. Using those words to an adoptive family are not appropriate. If you are trying to distinguish a difference, please use the term “biological” child.
3. Adoption comes from pain.
Many people have told me how “lucky” my daughter is since being adopted. Adoptive families often discuss how frustrating this phrase can be. These children should never be made to feel “lucky” that we gave them what every child deserves. Their stories are painful and they walk around with trauma that was never supposed to be theirs to carry. Adoption is a beautiful example of redemption, but the pain that is there shouldn’t be ignored with the words “blessed” or “lucky.”
4. The location of where we chose to adopt is irrelevant.
Sure, feel free to ask about the birth country, but do not judge the response. There are children in need everywhere. No child from a continent, country, state, or city is better or worse. A child here in the states is in just as much need and as important as a child in another country. They all matter. Where the child was born is not a choice of theirs and neither is losing their family. If there is a way to give a child the family he/she deserves, cross whatever oceans you need to cross or go right next door. The location of the adoption is not a concern when a child is in need and should not ever be questioned or criticized.
5. Adoptive families often feel lonely and misunderstood. Find a way to support!
Not everyone is called to adopt, but I truly believe everyone is called to support adoption is some way. Families like mine often feel misunderstood and lonely. Read a few articles online about adoption, ask questions (preferably not in front of the children), be there when the attachment isn’t working, when the trauma reappears, and we struggle finding ways to connect with our kids, and when we feel like no one understands. You don’t have to understand, but listen and give us your time and love. We need it just like you do!
What questions do you have about adoption? We would love to write more about this topic and could use some advice on where to start. Tell us in the comments!