The adoption journey is one that is both emotional and beautiful. Whether you are an adoptive parent or birth parent, you probably understand these feelings firsthand. As emotional and life-changing adoption was for you, it was one of the most positive decisions you have ever made. More than likely, you want to talk about it. You may be happy to answer others’ questions about adoption when they are truly curious about your experience. Sometimes, however, people ask tough questions that can be hard to answer.
Anyone closely involved with adoption may understand it is an incredibly sensitive process, but others on the outside – even relatives – may not. Even when intentions are good, feelings may get hurt because of the seemingly ignorant questions asked or comments made by others.
At Adoptions With Love, we want our adoptive parents and birth parents to feel confident in their decisions, and to be able to comfortably address the many adoption questions that will arise throughout theirs’ and their child’s life. We also see these questions as opportunities to help educate others about adoption and all its positive aspects. Here, we will address some of those adoption questions that may not be so easy to answer.
Adoption Questions & Answers for Adoptive Parents
Adoptive parents make the decision to adopt for numerous reasons. You may have struggled with infertility, been influenced by another adoption, or simply are not in a relationship that enables you to conceive a child. These are all personal and private matters that are your business first and foremost. When someone bluntly asks, “Why did you adopt?” Do not be afraid to say that that information is personal and private. There is no more explanation necessary unless you truly desire to share. Some people may try to empathize with you, having responses such as, “Too bad you could not have children of your own.” Try not to take this personally. Instead, explain that they mean you could not have a child biologically but that your child is very much your own. By law, you are his/her parent(s).
Another common adoption question adoptive parents get all the time is, “What happened to your child’s real parents?” This one may be best handled with a bit of humor. You could reply, “Oh, dear, do I not look real again?” Or, to better drive home the point, “Last I checked, I am a very real parent. I am the one changing the diapers and staying up all hours of the night.” People who do not understand adoption often confuse the word “real” for “biological.” You may also respond with, “Do you mean his biological parents? If so, we have lots of great information about them but we are keeping that private for now.”
The topic of adoption fees can be a focus of fascination for some outsiders. Relatives, friends, or even strangers may just be curious about the expense or may be considering adopting themselves and looking for an inside point of view. Questions as bold as, “How much did he cost?” may pop up. This can, of course, take a parent by surprise. Think about your response carefully.
For example, you may explain, “We did not pay for our child. With adoption, you pay for legal, social work, and medical fees.” If a person is truly curious about costs, you may choose to share some general information while keeping your expenses private: “The average cost of adoption today is between $20- and $30,000, however grants, credits, and reimbursements can help with the costs.” You can also answer their question with a question: “Are you interested in adopting a child?”
Many people do not realize that most domestic adoptions today are open adoptions. Therefore, many adoption questions may be related to your child’s birth parents. You may be asked questions like, “Are you worried about his birth mother coming back for him?” or “Are you going to tell him about his birth parents?” These are those moments we mentioned earlier, which present great opportunity for you – the adoptive parent – to drop some knowledge and spread awareness about adoption. You can explain:
- Your child is your child by law. Therefore, no one can take him/her away.
- Your child already knows he/she is adopted. You talk about adoption openly and regularly with your child and will continue to do so as he/she grows. Therefore, it is not some big, bad secret that you will reveal someday (like what is sometimes seen on TV). If you have an open adoption, you may also take this time to explain that you maintain contact with your child’s birth parent(s), and that your child has/will have opportunities to meet her (or them) someday.
No matter the approach from others’ adoption questions, it is important to remind yourself that, unfortunately, many people are unaware and uneducated when it comes to adoption language. This will help you keep your cool and handle these adoption questions with grace and positivity – which will influence the way your child someday answers questions like these, too.
Adoption Questions & Answers for Birth Parents
As if making an adoption plan for your child was not hard enough, you may sometimes face some harsh and hurtful questions from others about your decision to place. It is important, however, to keep in mind where your original decision stemmed from: Love. Your selfless decision to create a plan for your child’s life – to choose a loving family and a stable home for your child to grow – was perhaps the most thoughtful and courageous choice you could have ever made for your child. Still, there will be adoption questions from those who do not quite understand the emotion and consideration that went into your adoption plan. Here is how to tackle some of their questions about adoption:
A very common question birth mothers are asked is, “Why did you give up your child?” In fact, it is very common to hear people say, “give up” and “put up” for adoption. These phrases are wrong and hearing them is a good opportunity for you to explain why. You may say something like, “I did not ‘give her up’, I chose to make an adoption plan for her. I looked through families and chose the perfect one to raise her, who could give her a stable home, financial support, and the best life possible. I planned for her/him. I gave him/her opportunity.
A common set of follow-up questions may sound something like, “How come you didn’t want her?” or “Don’t you love your baby?” Again, these are inaccurate remarks. You came to your decision to make an adoption plan out of love, and it is fair-game to say this: “Actually, I love her so much that I decided to carry her to term and give her a life better than what I could provide at the time.”
One of the birth mothers that chose adoption through Adoptions With Love suggests the same sort of response:
“Yes. More than the earth. More than you can imagine. Imagine what it takes to go through pregnancy, go through childbirth, hold your beautiful baby in your arms and accept that you cannot provide the life you think your child deserves. It’s impossible. It’s an impossible choice and it hurts. It’s the hardest choice I’ve ever made in my entire life, no contest. But the love you have for your child outweighs everything… You make that choice for your child, not for you, BECAUSE you love them so much.” (Read her full interview about adoption language here.)
Making an adoption plan for your child is something you should be proud of. So, when someone asks, “Do you regret your decision?” Just answer confidently, explaining how you brought this incredible person into the world, and this child brought more joy and love to her adoptive parents than they could have ever imagined. She made them the parents they have always wanted to be, and they can provide her with the life and opportunity she deserves. How could a person regret an incredible, life-changing move like that?
Some people may ask you if you ever think about your child or whether you want to see him/her again someday. Since most private adoptions in the U.S. are open adoptions, it is not the cut-off situation they are imagining. More than likely, you think about your child all the time, and you hope and plan to see him/her again someday. When you do, you will remind your child that he/she is loved very much. He/she will already know that, since you placed your child with such a loving adoptive family, who kept you and your family background an ongoing part of the discussion.
Reaching Out for More Guidance
No matter your position, adoption is a beautiful journey that requires time, patience, and plenty of heart. The staff at Adoptions With Love wants to help guide you through that process as smoothly and seamlessly as possible. Reach out to us any time of day at 1-800-722-7731, or text us at 617-777-0072, for more advice on answering questions about adoption. Or, you may download our free “Guide to Talking About Adoption” below.