After several years of trudging through the infertility treatment jungle, my husband and I started to research adoption as a possible option. In all honesty, we were tired and angry AND had huge doubts that adoption would "work." We attended an adoption class through our local agency and that class truly changed us. We learned about adoption, met couples going through similar experiences and we left that class with hope, excitement and renewed energy. We. Had. A. Plan!
Over the next several months, we completed the steps necessary to be added to our agency's waitlist and just like that, WE WERE "ADOPTION PREGNANT"! We were elated and started to share our news with family and friends. Overall, people shared our excitement, but it became clear very quickly that there was going to be more to this than just sharing we were going to have a baby. We were going to have to help educate people on adoption.
We were unprepared for the crazy things people said to us when we told them our news. My husband and I would recap our days and share the questions and comments we heard from people, how we responded and how we could respond better the next time.
I truly believe people were not being malicious with their comments and questions; they were just unfamiliar with or uneducated on adoption or how best to congratulate us.
So, it is for that reason that I share this post -- not to complain, just to help prepare those considering adoption and to help educate others how to best respond when hearing someone's exciting news!
1. You just wait, now you'll get pregnant!
This is the most common thing people said to me when I told them we are adopting. It was usually coupled with stories about how they know 25 women that have adopted and then gotten pregnant. I can understand how that might happen. The stress is off, you finally have your baby, so I've heard many wonderful stories of people adopting and then getting pregnant. BUT... this is not the case for everyone. You don't know what the couple has been through or why they haven't been able to have biological children, so don't assume because you've heard about it happening that it will happen for this couple. Saying, "now you'll get pregnant," in a way says, "don't worry, there is still hope that you can have 'your own' child." Instead, just congratulate the couple that they will soon have "their own" child through adoption!
2. Ohhh (concerned voice), my best friend's brother's cousin's daughter's uncle adopted and [insert adoption horror story].
Listen, there are sad adoption stories, no doubt about that. As adoptive parents, it's a risk we know we are very possibly signing up for. A risk we are willing to take, because we know the potentially rocky road will eventually lead us to our little one. BUT, we don't need someone else to remind us of the potential heartbreak. Instead of adding to our fear, how about offering to pray for our adoption journey!?
3. So, you can't have kids of your own?
I was shocked the first time someone asked me this. I'm sure I gave them a classic Natasha confused blank stare, because I was thinking, What the heck?! I just told them exciting news! We're going to adopt a baby! First of all, that question is way too personal, but since I was unprepared, I found myself sharing way more than I needed to in order to answer the question. The response I should have had: None. Of. Your. Darn. Business. If you get asked this question, you don't have to share your personal history with strangers! If you ask this question, it feels like you are A.) snooping, and B.) saying, "great, you are adopting, but that isn't quite as exciting as if you were telling me you were pregnant." Instead of raining on our exciting news, just tell us how excited you are for us to start our family!
4. We've always wanted to adopt too! Maybe, someday, after we have a few of our own.
OK, if you're serious about adopting down the road, then awesome! But, 1.) please know the children we adopt will be "our own" 2.) please don't make it sound as simple as heading to the Humane Society and picking out a new puppy... fun! And double fun for you that you can pick, choose and plan when and how to have your family! If you are serious, we'd be happy to fill you in on adoption and the process; if not, just don't go there.
5. That child will be so lucky to have you as parents/You have such big hearts to adopt those children.
I believe these two comments come from a loving place and thank you for your nice compliments. BUT, let me let you in on a few little secrets: We are NOT adopting children to achieve sainthood. We are adopting children because WE WANT CHILDREN and a family. So, while it's true we have big hearts and lots of love to share... that's just being a good parent. You're right, the child we adopt will be lucky, but WE are a zillion-trillion-gazillion times luckier to be blessed with that child. Lastly, please don't say "those children" like they are dirty or lesser in any way than someone's biological children. THOSE CHILDREN are made by the same God that blesses families' biological children.
And here is a BONUS that I'm hoping needs no explanation for why it might not be the right thing to say.....
Us: "We're Adopting!"
Them: "What's wrong with you?"
If you are planning to adopt, this post is a heads-up on some of the feedback you may receive. It took us a while to understand how not to be angry at the comments! Just know that they usually come from a loving place, but as an adoptive parent, it kind of becomes part of our job to help educate people on adoption.
If you know someone who has adopted and have made some of these comments, don't fret... now you know!
Former jet-setter and business woman, Natasha Hanneman is currently rocking out motherhood to twin 2-year-old boys and wifey-hood to a great hubby. She blogs about family and adoption at Giggle Giggle Toot Roar. You can follow Natasha on Facebook and Twitter.
From "30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days," a series designed to give a voice to people with widely varying experiences, including birthparents, adoptees, adoptive parents, foster parents, waiting adoptive parents and others touched by adoption: