Adoption can be a sensitive subject to broach, because it is unfamiliar territory for many people. It can be hard to know what to say to be encouraging and comforting. We have included some examples of what to say and what not to say. Don't feel bad if you have ever used a "do not" example. Also, don't focus too much on these specific examples, we just wanted to illustrate a point: be upbeat and encouraging, just like you would for any other couple awaiting the birth of a child.
Here are some phrases or comments to avoid when talking to an adoptive couple (especially the woman!):
1. “Oh, you’re adopting! I had a cousin who tried to adopt, but….” (fill in the blank with any number of adoption horror stories). Please refrain from sharing sad adoption stories. It doesn’t help. It’s akin to saying to a woman who is expecting, “Oh, you’re pregnant. I had a cousin that has had seven miscarriages.” You would never do that!
2. “Oh, you’re adopting! Well at least you won’t have to get fat and have stretch marks.” When speaking with other adoptive moms, we have agreed that this comment comes up the most. Although it is meant to be comforting, it’s not.
3. “Oh, you’re adopting. I had a friend who adopted twice and then got pregnant. Maybe that will happen for you, too.” Although this scenario has been known to happen, statistically speaking, it’s not very likely, and it also implies that adoption is somehow inferior.
We have also had numerous people respond to our situation in uplifting and encouraging terms:
1. “Oh, you’re adopting. That’s wonderful! We hope you don’t have to wait very long. We will tell everyone we know.” I like it when people respond to our adoption approval announcement like they would respond to someone who is expecting. It is exciting! It is wonderful! We couldn’t be happier!
2. “I have a friend who adopted six children!” Happy adoption stories are great to share. I know I always feel more hopeful after hearing them.
3. “Man, you look good for just having a baby!” I loved getting this comment after bringing Maya home. It’s positive and funny!
4. “Oh, what a beautiful baby. She looks like she belongs with you.” Although Maya doesn’t share our genetic make-up, she is our daughter. She belongs to our family forever.
5. Also remember that adoptive couples may still have moments of grief over their infertility (yes, even after adopting a child). Although it is sometimes hard to hear that someone is pregnant, it’s always worse to be the last to hear.