Adoption today is less veiled in secrecy than it was just a few decades ago. But as every adoptive parent knows, that means sometimes friends, co-workers and even random strangers feel they can blurt out whatever weird thoughts pass through their head on the topic. We polled adoptive parents on some of the worst things people had said to them–or worse, to their kids. The responses left us gobsmacked.
1. Apparently some people equate adopting kids to rescuing a pet from the animal shelter:
“Oh, you adopted older children. That’s like adopting an older dog–they’re already toilet trained.”
“What mix are they?”
– Uh, my children are biracial, not labradoodles.
2. And one co-worker whose dog had just died joked to an adoptive parent:
“So, I’m going to go to Children’s Aid and get a kid too.”
– Sorry if my not laughing just made this conversation awkward.
3. Some people seem to think adopting a child is like sale shopping:
“Good thing you adopted him, I would have returned him.”
4. Or a mail-order book club that just keeps sending new packages.
“Why did you adopt so many? Didn’t you like the first ones?”
– Must cancel that subscription.
“Do you ever regret adopting all of them?
– That’s my FAMILY you’re talking about.
5. There are still people out there whose brains hurt at the concept of transracial adoption:
“Oh, the youngest one’s adopted? We all thought that you’d just stepped out on your husband.”
“You must be the nanny.”
How adopting my daughter helped me reconnect with my roots 6. Fortunately some people totally get why we might adopt a child with a different skin colour:
“At least people will know your kids are adopted, if they misbehave.”
– Yup, that’s exactly it.
…and they feel us:
“I understand what you’re going through… I ‘foster’ a child in Ethiopia.”
Sorry, your $10 monthly bank transfer to WorldVision does not make us kindred spirits.
6. One neighbour didn’t say anything objectionable to the new adoptive dad next door. Instead she loudly addressed his three-year-old:
“Do you miss your REAL parents?”
– Are YOU for real?
7. Some people just don’t get that there’s more to family than blood. A family friend actually said this to a mom who had adopted a little boy a few years previously:
“Your mother must be so happy to finally be a grandma, now that your sister’s having a baby… I mean a real grandma.”
– Should I tell my son the woman he’s been calling Grandma is actually a hologram?
8. And some people can’t wrap their head around teen adoption—like this elderly lady who said to the new mom of a 15-year-old daughter who was STANDING RIGHT THERE:
“Oh, she’s adopted? My friend was going to adopt an older girl to look after her in her old age too.”
9. Don’t get us started on anyone who starts any sentence with ‘everything happens for a reason,’ like this mind-blowingly offensive offender:
“Everything happens for a reason—you lost your pregnancy because you’re meant to adopt.”
– My infertility was NOT part of a divine plan.
10. And please don’t be surprised if we’re not totally enthusiastic about the totally unsolicited ‘expert’ advice you want to share:
“I was watching Dr. Phil, and he says with children such as yours, you should try this…..”
11. All adoptive parents want is for people to think before they open their mouths… or to know when to keep their mouths shut.
“So, do you tell them they’re adopted?”
– Uh, not a bad question, except you just asked it in front of my kids. Imagine if YOU had just broken the news.