Adoptive Family

9 Things Not To Say To Adoptive Parents

I recently read a brilliant post by the lovely Catie over at entitled 10 Things Not To Ask An Autism Parent which had me nodding along from beginning to end.  It got me thinking about the types of things I’m either asked as an adoptive parent or throw away comments made by people one they realise the children are adopted.  Nearly all of these are from strangers or acquaintances  – thankfully my friends wouldn’t consider saying them! They range from the inquisitive to the downright odd!

So here is my list of 10 things to avoid saying to an adoptive parent:

  1. So, what were their real parents like?  Ummm, I have to tell you that I am their real parent! I’m not the fake one, or the imaginary one, or the pretend one – I’m their real mum! Once we adopted them, they legally became our children – for real!
  2. Gosh, they don’t look adopted!  What?? What do adopted children look like? Yes they are clean and looked after and well dressed and can use a knife and fork (well on good days!) They are children, which is what they look like!
  3. Aren’t they lucky to have been adopted by you? I understand what you are getting at here but, no not really.  I wouldn’t say that they were lucky at all with the start they have had. Yes it has become significantly better for them, but I definitely wouldn’t call it lucky.  I wish that they had had a good start in life and hadn’t had to have gone through all the trauma and emotional upset that no child should have to deal with.
  4. Don’t they look like you! That’s very nice of you to say and to try to find similarities, but we really are OK with the fact that we don’t really look alike.
  5. What do you know about their background? Umm, pretty much everything.  But please don’t ask me to go into detail – it isn’t my story to tell, it it theirs, and they will decide if and when they want to tell anyone about it in the future.
  6. What do they call you? Umm, Mum??  Yep, they call me Mum and Mr N, Dad, because, well that’s who we are!
  7. Why did you choose your children? Well, we didn’t choose them.  It really doesn’t work like that!  In fact, we were chosen as their parents over other adoptive parents, rather than us choosing the children.  The emphasis is on finding the right parents for the child!
  8. Will you keep trying for your own child?  I really do know that you mean, will I continue to try for a birth child, but please recognise that my children are my own children – all of them – regardless of how they came to be in the family.
  9. When will you tell them they are adopted? Well, they already know. They’ve known from the day they came to us – it’s really not a secret!

I know that everyone is, naturally, curious about adopted children, the process and how we are getting on, and that is lovely. But please do think about the way your questions are phrased before you ask them – all you really need to know is, we are a loving, caring family with 2 gorgeous children who are ours through and through, and we adore them!

A Mum Track Mind


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  1. Some of my cousins are adopted so I know exactly what you mean about what you shouldn’t ask. My aunt and uncle knew their full backgrounds, about the parents and pretty much everything there is to know. I don’t know why people think that it’s OK to ask these questions, they’re your children, nobody else’s! #fortheloveofblog

  2. People just don’t think before they speak! I don’t think I’d even consider asking anything like this to a complete stranger- rude! I understand the adoption process is long and traumatic, you certainly don’t need to be questioned about it afterwards! xx #fortheloveofBLOG

    1. Author

      It always surprises me that people think they can ask all sorts of questions that are really quite personal! Thanks for the lovely comment.

  3. I think that these sorts of posts are really useful, insightful and interesting. I read Catie’s post too and was glad she wrote it. I can’t imagine ever saying any of the points you list, however, it’s always good to be reminded and it does give people an idea of what parents who have adopted, go through. Alison x #AnythingGoes

    1. Author

      Thanks Alison! I don’t think I’d ever say any of the things on either mine or Catie’s post – but it always amazes me the questions we sometimes get asked! x

  4. This was a really interesting read for someone who has zero experience with adoption. I guess people are just curious and nosey. like with all things really – it used to wind me up no end when people would question me on whether my son was sleeping through the night/potty trained etc etc. People just like to nose! I cant believe you get asked some of these questions though -they are completely personal and no ones else’s business! #fortheloveofblog

    1. Author

      Thanks for your lovely comment – I agree people are really nosey and I completely get that – but sometimes I do wonder about some of the questions we get asked!! x

  5. What a great post. A lot of people don’t know what to say and instead of not saying anything at all grasp at straws and end up putting their foot in their mouth. Hopefully you’ve educated a few people x

  6. This is a great post, although I can understand why people say quite a few of these things especially numbers 3 and 4. I do think a lot of the time people are trying to find something to say and come out with the wrong thing but it was likely unintentional. A few of the things on the list are daft though, and people should engage brain before opening mouth! Thanks for linking up to #TheList

    1. Author

      I think 3 and 4 are the ones I hear the most and the ones I understand the most. I definitely agree that it’s not intentionally meant to upset or irritate, and I really do try hard not to take it that way – especially the one about the kids looking like me – they are super gorgeous and I’d LOVE to look a bit like them :). x

  7. This is really helpful. My daughter’s best friends are 2 sisters who are adopted. For someone who has no previous knowledge or experience of it, your guide has been a real eye-opener on how well-meaning comments can come across in a not-so-nice way. Thank you

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