Telling People You’re Adopting – Lesson 1

I’ve been so consumed by the world of recurrent pregnancy loss and infertility for so long now, that I’ve come to accept or at least tolerate all the helpful comments people offer us:

  • Just relax and it will work next time.
  • Just get a surrogate.
  • Just do IVF.  That helps people get pregnant all the time.
  • Why not just be foster parents or adopt.
  • Just eat more pineapples.
  • Buy ovulation sticks, they will help you know when you ovulate.
  • Make sure you are having sex the right way and always lift your legs up afterwards for at least 15 minutes.

I clearly have a lot of sarcastic responses to these comments now.  Heck, anyone who has struggled in the baby making department comes up with great responses to all of this.

We have learned that we have a become educators of infertility.  People make incorrect assumptions all the time, and we now spend a lot of our time and effort correcting people and educating them about the realities of surrogacy, sex positions and IVF.  We do this because we are hoping they will learn and will be enabled to make more supportive comments to us and others in the future.

But, here’s the thing, we are just entering the world of adoption.  In fact, we have only told 1 person our intentions to adopt, and we have only told her because we need her as a reference.  (We plan to tell more people in our real life after we attend the mandatory seminar – we figure if there is a chance we are going to change our minds, this is when we will).

But here’s the thing, after telling my amazing friend about our plans to adopt she said one sentence that really struck me:

Wow, you guys are going to save an unwanted child.  How amazing is that?

Now, I’m just at the very beginning of my personal adoption indoctrination / education.  I am sure people who have been through the process have heard it all.  But, what this one sentence, it became clear to me that I am now becoming an adoption advocate and will likely spend the rest of my life educating people about adoption.

Without hesitation I began correcting my friend on the two main issues I took with her sentence.

  1. This child is not unwanted.  If it were unwanted, the mother could easily have had an abortion (although, note that in my opinion not all abortions are the result of not wanting a child – there are many, many reasons that women/couples choose abortion. You can read our termination for medical reasons / abortion experience here).   The child is wanted more than anything, and the birth mother is actually giving the child the best gift she can.  More than likely the birth mother actually recognizes that she cannot care for the child in the best way possible and wants the child to have opportunities that she cannot offer.  This child, just like all children, is a gift and not a burden.  Further, it is never okay to refer to any child as unwanted in any circumstance.
  2. It is my humble opinion, as we are choosing to do a Canadian or American open adoption, we are not saving our future child.  It would be different if we were adopting a child from an impoverished nation where they would not have the same opportunities or level of care that we could offer as a life in an impoverished orphanage.  In my opinion, the fact is with Canadian or American open adoptions, there is a substantial waiting list of adoptive parents.  To become an adoptive parent, couples/people are required to go through intense scrutiny of every element of their lives – childhood, income, sex lives, marriage, life plans, etc.  And, even with the daunting process, there are more couples on the waiting list then there are children available.  This means, if we don’t adopt a child in Canada or the US, someone else who has been approved will and chances are the child will live a pretty darn good life.  We are not unique in our desire to adopt, and we are most definitely not saviours.

So, what this first interaction has taught me, is that I need to be prepared for a whole new set of education.  I need to be prepared to tell people respectfully that there statements and assumptions are inappropriate/unacceptable and why.  I suspect as we get further into all of this, I will also have to tell people that certain things are confidential and not something we are willing to share (an example from our adoption agency is that people will ask about the birth mom’s medical history and that this is our child’s story to tell when and if they ever decide to, and for the time being the right answer is simply that this is confidential information that we are not sharing).

Adoption is definitely an entirely new experience for us, and I already know that in addition to raising a wonderful child (or two) through the gift of adoption, we will become adoption advocates and educators as we enlighten people on all the adoption misnomers.

If you like this post, please feel free to share it and please return to myperfectbreakdown.com to follow my journey.

50 Comments on “Telling People You’re Adopting – Lesson 1

  1. Whether it’s loss, infertility or adoption/fostering, so many people are very ignorant with their choice of words; and they should be educated on what not to say, and that not all children in adoptive situations are in a dire situation. All children are a blessing, no matter how they are born into our families. Reading your article reminds me of a few people approaching me after the loss of our son, and the first thing people said was to adopt or foster. We actually were planning on fostering with the option to adopt down the road, and when we finally came out to say we were going to foster and adopt people asked me could I not have my own? It really upset me. Whether I can have my own or not, I still have that desire to foster/adopt.
    I am hoping that the more you tell people/family what you all have decided to do that you will be able to educate them as well, to rid them of the misconception of adoption.

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    • You are just so right that people are ignorant in there choice of words regardless of the situation. Basically, adoption, loss, infertility are all awkward to people who have never been through any of it. So, educating people is going to be part of the process.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We had similar reactions (and still do, 8 years later). The most common is, “Oh, isn’t he a lucky boy”/”oh, he should be so grateful you saved him”. My answer is always the same, “We are the lucky ones!” or “he saved us”. What used to grate me is that they say these things in front of him!!! At age 8!!!!

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    • They say those things in front of him?! People are amazing! I suspect what really matters in that circumstance is how you respond so that it does not become awkward for your son.
      I do love your response, and I couldn’t agree more – we will be the lucky ones when this is all said and done! 🙂

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  3. Unwanted child? Good lord, what an odd thing to say. And I’m sure it was meant with complete love which is why you’re right: education is the key to removing their ignorance. I look forward to learning more myself about the adoption process through your blog and I’m sure your research will serve as a beacon of support to others walking the same journey. Sending you hugs and prayers as you begin the adoption process.

    Liked by 1 person

    • She absolutely did mean it with love, and not to be hurtful or ignorant. But, I still felt the need to correct her as I’d rather do it now before she (or someone else) makes such a comment in front of our future child or another adopted child.
      Thanks so much for the encouragement! I do hope others will be able to learn from our experience, as I am so grateful to those who are helping us navigate the process.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Be ready for people to straight up say things like “Oh, are you infertile?” For some reason sharing the decision to adopt makes people think you are also completely fine with sharing the reasons behind it, and as a young married couple the assumption is that you must be adopting because you can’t have your own. Since sharing our news I have been asked SO MANY TIMES if I am adopting because I can’t have my own children. I understand that it’s an easy assumption to make but it still catches me off guard by the ease in which people can ask such personal questions.

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    • Thanks for the heads up for what to expect from people!
      Mr. MBP and I have already discussed not going into any details about our RPL when people ask questions like why did you adopt or are you infertile. We think that our losses is not our child’s story. We want to focus the narrative of adopting on being happy and excited about adoption, not why we eventually turned to adoption. I know we wont be able to control everything, but we can at least try.

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    • Just addressing another misconception: a child you adopt will be every bit *your* child as a child you birth yourself. A birthmom pointed that out to me when I used the same phrase; the more positive way is to say you cannot have children ON your own. That one preposition makes all the difference in the world!

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  5. Wow it never occurred to me this is what someone would say to a person who is intending to adopt. You’re right; this is a whole new level and a different kind of education from bringing awareness to infertility and losses. I am so glad that you have the clear mind to know what to say.

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    • Nor did it occur to me, and now I’m kind of intrigued about what other comments we will hear in the future! I know her comment was meant with the best of intentions and she was not meaning to be hurtful or negative, rather she was trying to super supportive and loving of our decision. So, I hope she understood that my response was meant to only help her understand adoption a bit better. I think she did. I hope she did.

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  6. In regard to #1 having an abortion for an unwanted child … I have to add that not all abortions are because the baby was unwanted. Many, many, many, many babies are wanted and some mothers make the heartbreaking choice of termination for medical reasons (TFMR). If you’ve never actually walked in these shoes it can be difficult to understand this decision.

    Here is a blog to put a face on TFMR … the examples of the women here all wanted their babies, but what they didn’t want is for their little one to suffer living a life of physical, emotional, social and cognitive impairments. The mothers made a choice that wasn’t taken lightly being one of the most difficult, if not the hardest decisions of their life.

    1 in 10: http://1in10blog.wordpress.com

    A bit off topic in the sense of adoption … but a little information that not all abortions and done for “oopsy” pregnancies.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for sharing and point out this very important perspective. My comment in this post was directly purely at those choosing an abortion as those who do not want a child – I absolute understand and respect that the decision to terminate a pregnancy is not always the result of not wanting the child. In fact, I probably understand this better then most as I have walked in these shoes and will live with our decision for the rest of my life.
      We had an abortion with our 3rd loss. We were told we could continue to wait for the baby to die (which it would eventually), but due to the onset of a septic infection I may die before the baby and there is no way to know when my infection would turn critical and life threatening. You can read about it here – http://wp.me/p4qQfg-8X. This is without the hardest decision we have ever made, and a decision I would never wish upon anyone. Our child was more wanted then anything, but our circumstances did not allow that to occur.
      Thanks for the link – I will absolutely check it out.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes, I know about your abortion with the 3rd loss and how heartbreaking it must have been FOR SO MANY REASONS! 😦 I replied about the abortion and unwanted child mention in case anyone else reading (NOT YOU) doesn’t know about TFMR. There are so many people who don’t even know the TFMR aspect of abortion … so many people. In fact, I’d make a guess that for most people the idea of TFMR never enters their mind when they hear abortion and they truly do think “unwanted child” and I’m sure that some other people who do know about TFMR also think “unwanted child” not know the very special circumstances and decision making that these moms & dads undergo.

        The 1 in 10 blog describes many other heartbreaking stories of women who have gone through IVF and had to terminate for various medical reasons … and others haven’t experienced their loss(es) with IVF also.

        I don’t want to go on about abortion because that’s not the gist of your thoughtful post sharing your early experience with the adoption process.

        AND are you eating more pineapples by the way! — That one was a hoot! 🙂

        Like

      • Thank you elizabetcetera for your explanation. Right after your first comment, I actually went in added a line into my post about the fact that there are multiple reasons to have an abortion – while it wasn’t the focus of this post, I was being rather cavalier about it. I also provided a link to my TFMR post. I also contacted the 1 in 10 blog and offered to share my post on there site, as I would like to be part of the bigger story and support more people going through this journey.
        Thank you for sharing this link with me and offering your support, as it is nice to know I am not alone in our decision.

        Liked by 1 person

    • It’s obvious you don’t read this blog regularly, or have not attempted to learn MPB’s history if you are a new reader. I encourage you to learn more about the bloggers you read before posting comments like these. MPB heartbreakingly has first-hand knowledge of what you’re asking her to think about in this comment. Please be more educated and thoughtful in your commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Your friend and my MIL share the same sentiments. ‘All of those many poor, unwanted children.’ Even children taken into the foster system are often times very wanted by their parents, their parents just aren’t able to function in that role for whatever reasons. But yes, her comment was more about how wonderful you are than how “unwanted” adopted kids are. She’s a great friend… Trying to be supportive and positive! 💗.

    Like

    • You are so incredibly right, she is a great friend, and was absolutely trying to be supportive and positive about our choice. I love her to pieces, and I love that she wants to support us.
      And, the more people I/we can educate about adoption, IF, RPL, etc. the better! 🙂

      Like

  8. Oh boy!! I’m sure you will have to deal with a lot of these kinds of comments unfortunately. I think it is very good that you are willing to gently correct and educate along the way!!! 🙂 These comments are often due to lack of awareness vs people just being insensitive but it sure does sound that way sometimes. I just have to assume they don’t think before they speak. I know I’ve been guilty of it sometimes for sure.

    Like

    • You are so right, these comments are due to a lack of awareness as they have never critically thought about adoption and appropriate language to use when discussing adoption. My friend, and most other people do not say these things to be hurtful, in fact I believe most people think they are being supportive and loving.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. So true. It must be offensive to hear your child being called “unwanted” when you want him or her so badly! People tell me IVF stuff all the time and I’m like, really you think I don’t know that?!

    Like

  10. This whole “you’re a savior” thing just blows my mind. Almost every person I’ve told that we might adopt one day has said that very thing your friend said! And I’m like, you guys do realize that there is a line of people out the door and down the block waiting to adopt pretty much any healthy baby in the US, right? They are so wanted, by both their birth mothers and the people waiting to adopt them. I guess with most things, if you’re not in it, you don’t get it. I think it’s an exciting (although frustrating) opportunity to be able to educate and advocate for adoption. It truly is a miracle, and the more people who can be set straight about it, the better!

    Like

  11. There are so many stupid things said when dealing with infertility but that comment your friend said is so so ignorant! I have several friends that have adopted and it truly is such a beautiful thing! It made me think of what one of my friend’s birth mom’s wrote. You can read it here
    http://lovenelson.blogspot.com/2014/09/dear-future-best-friend.html
    These kids that are adopted are loved by so many!
    I’m sure you will have a beautiful adoption story too!! I look forward to seeing how adoption will bless your life, your child’s life, and probably so many others you aren’t even aware of yet 🙂

    Like

    • Thanks so much for sharing!
      I think the ignorant comments are a result of having never thought about the situation critically and just responding without thinking. I know she meant it with love, but I also know upon reflection she would choose better words next time. 🙂
      And, thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement. 🙂

      Like

  12. This post really made me think. While those words weren’t exactly what I would use, her sentiment is the same as what I would say, something like “taking in a child who needs a home.” And yes, I guess I do think the savior thing is kind of cool, and what makes me feel an occasional pang of guilt when I’m splashing all this money out on IVF when there are definitely kids out there who need homes.

    It never occurred to me the savior thing would be offensive. It’s definitely how I always framed adoption, and my FIL is adopted. I honestly do think of adoption as more caring, as more beneficial to the world in general, and yes with a big dose of savoring, I guess. This made me think.

    Like

    • Thanks so much for sharing.
      I don’t think most people would think of the saviour thing as being offensive, and maybe that’s just my personality where I don’t like too much praise?
      As for a child needing a home and a loving family, I must prefer that to calling a child unwanted. It’s a much healthier perspective for the child. 🙂

      Like

  13. Very interesting. I love your perspective on this. It’s true that there is ignorance with whatever challenging life event you face. And that’s why we are all here: to educate and build a bit more compassion in this world.

    Like

  14. Eat more pineapples to become pregnant????? I’ve NEVER heard that one!!!
    I’m glad that you take obstacles and opportunities in your life, as your own opportunity to educate and help others understand how things really are. You’re definitely special people, and I’m proud that I’ve gotten to know you here 🙂

    Like

  15. Oh wow, I thought the infertility comments were bad, but this is a whole new level. I can understand that she was trying to support you, and I commend you for handling it with grace and education. You are in my thoughts and I hope that this part of your journey brings you a wonderful child to your amazing family very soon.

    Like

    • Thank you so much for your kind support! I think you are spot on with her comment – she was trying to be supportive and as she has never thought critically about adoption she just didn’t realize her language could be seen as hurtful. Also, I so hope you are right, that this leg of the journey is short. 🙂

      Like

  16. Good for you for correcting your friend. I’m always amazed by the things people say when it comes to anything related to this journey. The ignorance never ceases to amaze me. I know she was just trying to be supportive to you, but I think you handled the situation perfectly. It is important to educate people, especially our friends. Sending you a huge hug hon.

    Like

  17. I really like this post. No one ever gets it. We constantly get, “why didn’t you just adopt/foster?” (We chose IVF). The reality is that there is no easy answer. You can’t snap your finger and hand over a little cash and have a baby appear. There are complications with EVERY option. Unless you have been through the horrid of infertility and/or loss, you just don’t get it. Thank you for writing it.

    Like

    • There absolutely are no easy answers! Once you join the IF/RPL club, the answers are hard to find and th solutions can be even harder.
      Thanks so much for commiserating! It is so wonderful to know that people understand all of this. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  18. In regard to sharing your story on 1 in 10 … I’m very sure Christie the owner of the site would love to have your share your story because all the stories are so different, so hard and emotional in their own way. AND your story might resonate with some particular women out there. I know there is one story that resonates with me on that site.

    Now going back to TOPIC, I just wanted to share some thoughts I have about adoption. I went to school with three people who were adopted — that I know of. One set of adoptees was a brother and sister. I always thought it was so lucky to be adopted and wished my parents had given me up for adoption because at that point, both families I had known severely loved their children and were very involved and proactive in their lives. I only looked at adoption with perfection lenses.

    The other kid who was adopted a my school growing up was a girl who was adopted to give her sister a playmate. The parents couldn’t have any more kids so they adopted a girl for the older girl to have as a sibling and friend. The adopted sister became amazingly protective of her older sister who had some mild cognitive deficit.

    I’ve never thought as anyone who adopts a child as being a savior. In my mind, I’m always seeing a young mom who can’t raise a child just yet due to financial reasons and/or lack of familial support — that’s the mother I see and I know it’s not true for all cases.

    I’ve also never thought as any of those children as unwanted … in fact, just thinking about children who are given up for adoption, I think of the timing as being off … kind of like how I view termination for non-medical reasons (TFNMR) (yes, their really is an acronym for the non-medical abortion!). Somehow, I never think of any termination for any baby as an unwanted child … simply as a timing and circumstances issue. For the TFMR, I think of the mothers as making the most selfless choice — instead of having a baby to hold that has a beating heart, the child’s whole quality of life is considered. Choosing to interrupt a pregnancy is a hard decision to make because of religion (those who subscribe or are indoctrinated), social mores, family pressure and simply self-recrimination to name a few.

    Anyway, there I go bringing it around full circle back to termination.

    Let’s get back to that pineapple therapy — it’s a bit lighter and full of vitamin C! 🙂

    Like

    • Thanks so much for sharing your adoption stories – it’s amazing once you start talking about adoption, just how many people have been touched by an adoption. Everyone seems to have some sort of experience, good or bad.
      Yes, pineapple therapy, I think it’s hilarious. 🙂

      Like

  19. I am looking forward to hearing all that you’ll experience/learn/teach in this new chapter of life. Blessings to you for being an advocate of Truth in whatever circumstances you might find yourself.

    With heart & friendship,
    Dani

    Like

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