A few weeks ago, we posted this article that focused on comments that can be offensive to families built through adoption. After posting the article, we heard from so many people who shared stories of their own experience with insensitive questions or comments. Here is a list of 6 additional comments that we received from our readers:
1. “Do you know anything about his/her real parents?” and “Are they REAL brother and sister?”
Bringing into question the “realness” of a relationship unless it is built through DNA undermines the very real connection and relationship that children have with their parents and siblings. To imply that a child’s relationships are only “real” if there is a biological connection is not true.
2. All kids do that/behave that way. It’s just normal.
Children who come home through adoption may experience unique challenges as a result of the early losses they have experienced. While early trauma is not unique to children separated from their family of origin, parents often struggle to blend the parenting approach they used before they adopted with the trust-based parenting approach that is now necessary to meet the unique needs of a child from difficult beginnings. In order to truly understand what their child has experienced, the impact of those experiences, and how parents can step in to help nurture healing and growth — it is important that we understand the root of their behaviors and remember that actions and responses may differ from children who did not experience the same level of loss or disruption.
3. “What’s their story?” and “When did you get your child?” and “Does he know he’s adopted?”
Well-meaning questions can cause unnecessary tension for both the parents and the child. Each child has the right to tell their own story on their own terms in their own time. In situations where the child may be fostered, it can often even be illegal for foster parents to discuss specific information about a child’s story or circumstances.
4. Why were they given up/given away/taken into state custody?
Phrases like “given up” or “given away” not only communicate an inherent devaluing of the worth of the child, but also bring into question the values of their family of origin. These questions, similar to those found in Question 3, do not affirm a child’s right to their own story on their own terms. While it is natural to want to put into place the framework that contributed to the adoption journey of a child, it is best to allow this information to be offered by the child or their family if and when they choose to do so.
5. Distinguishing between the adopted child and the biological child.
All children, whether they came home through adoption or birth, are equally loved and treasured by their parents. When you label a child based on how they came home, it can be isolating and extremely hurtful.
6. Why didn’t you adopt in America?
Every family has their own unique journey and calling. For families who are called to adopt, some are led to international adoption, some are led to private domestic adoption, and others are led to adopt through the foster care system. Every child is made in the image of God the Father, who does not distinguish between borders.
For some who may not be impacted directly by these questions, we hope this article can be of help as you work to become more familiar with the issues facing those impacted by adoption. Like one of our readers shared, “For the most part, adoptive parents are not being sensitive for their own sake, but for the sake of their children.” We can each make a positive impact in the lives of those who were once among the world’s most vulnerable children by choosing to shape our words and actions to bring life and dignity to others.
Based on your own experience, what ways have others encouraged you or entered into your family’s story in a way that brought life and dignity? Comment below and let us know!
- 4 Comments About Adoption You Didn’t Know Were Offensive
- 3 Things to Know About Adopting from Foster Care
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