What I Want People To Stop Saying To Adoptive Parents

Last week was the 4 year anniversary of Hannah’s placement with us. We don’t celebrate Gotcha Day, I’ve actually written about the reasons why here: https://www.theblessedbarrenness.co.za/one-year-anniversary-why-were-not-celebrating-gotcha-day/

So I’m not going to revisit why I we don’t celebrate Gotcha Day, but I did want to you about another common adoption sentiment that I wish people would stop using…

Your children are so blessed to have you.

I know when people say this, they mean well and they say it with the best of intentions, but here’s why it’s a problem for me:

For my children to be truly blessed, their original family unit would still be in tact. They would not be living with the burden (and ask any adoptee, there are a lot of complex thoughts, feelings and identity crisis’s) that go hand in hand with being adopted. A child placed for adoption, is in my opinion, a tragedy. There is so much loss in placement. 

The only people blessed by adoption are adoptive parents.

I know I must be sounding so incredibly negative about adoption right now, and it’s not my intention to be negative, but I do want to present both sides fairly to you, readers. The only people in the adoption triad (birth parents, child & adoptive parents) are the actual adoptive parents, we are the ones that gain EVERYTHING while everyone else loses a little in the process. While adoption is so very joyful for us, it is also bittersweet knowing that there is an incredible amount of loss and heartbreak woven into the process.

The other sentiment I wish people would stop expressing to adoptive parents is…

Your children are lucky, you love them unconditionally.

I’ve never had a biological child, but I kind of assumed that that was what parenting involved, loving your child unconditionally first and foremost. And my children, my adopted daughters, are first and foremost JUST my children, I don’t think of them, on a daily basis as adopted, the only time I think of them as adopted is when complexities surrounding their placements come up and I have to act in their best interests, but first and foremost they are my children, as if my own flesh and blood and I can’t imagine any other way of loving them or parenting them without loving them unconditionally first.

At the end of the day, adoptive parents, like biological parents, are simply just parents.

Striving to give the best to their child, to raise them in a loving home with thought, care and discipline, growing them to adulthood where they can go on to be a legacy for who and what we are and contributing members of our society. Isn’t that what every parent wants for their child? 

Disclaimer – this is in NO WAY a dig at anyone, simply and observation and some thoughts and feelings shared on how I feel about adoption. My primary reason for writing this was for our friends and family and perhaps if you have a friend or family member who has adopted, to simply be mindful of the messages sent while using adoption jargon. 


    • Melanie Pieterkosky

      May 8, 2017 at 11:06 am

      Firstly don’t make any assumptions and treat the new parents the same way you treat any new parents.

      Please don’t ask about the first parents, the life the child had before, or anything personal about the child. If the adoptive parents want to talk about it they will, but ultimately it is none of your business.

      For support, offer to do the dishes, cook a meal, hold a crying baby or play with a grumpy child. Offer to listen to the parents if they wish to talk. Adoptive parents can also get ‘post natal’ depression, and sometimes they need a shoulder to cry on.

      Finally tell us how perfect our new addition is. No parent gets upset when you recognise the beauty and wonder of our children. But please don’t make a comment like “her mother must have been beautiful!”. We already know that the genetics of our child don’t come from our line. For me this causes even more pain as we have no family medical history of our childs genetic line, so we have to be extra careful.

      We are all just regular parents.

  • Melanie Pieterkosky

    May 8, 2017 at 10:56 am

    Thank you for making this clear.

    I saw a comment from an adult adoptee: “Adoption is the only trauma where one is expected to be grateful for it. ”
    My daughter is experiencing many adoption related psychological difficulties, I wish there was the option of her being with her birth family, or even a family of the same race. That this option does not exist for her causes her such pain. I am so lucky to have her in my life, but my joy does not trump her pain.

    I also have a bio child. Unconditional love is what they both get because I am their parent and they are my children. So you are very right in what you say about this.

    We also don’t celebrate the placement, adoption or any other day focused on it. The closest was when the paperwork came through we could finally name her in our synagogue. She got to decide if she wanted this, and we haven’t celebrated it since.

  • Bridgette

    May 15, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    I agree Sharon , and I have found in my experience that the questions directed at us aren’t always meant to be malicious. People tend to speak from a lack of understanding about the complexities stemming from adoption, and from the post you just created, more awareness is generated. I try as kindly as I can to tell people who ask or remark about this, that adoption and adoptive kids are just the same as biological, and very often people remark what a wonderful “thing” is it that we have done. We too have struggled for almost 11years to have a family, and it is not lost on us the cost it took another mom to change this for us. I salute your post for the awareness it creates and I hope that all mammas break stigmas, speak out and own their story. As for raising my boys, I tell them what I can in the best way possible. My 5year old asked me recently if I know who his tummy mummy is and I simply answered…”not really but Im sure she is super special for being so obedient to the Lord”. That was good enough for him and he just said :I think so too”
    Thank you for being a tireless voice for all things adoption.


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