5 Questions Not to Ask Adoptive Couples about Their Adoption

When a friend or family member completes an adoption, it is natural to have questions about their adoption experience and about their new child. In general, many adopting families are happy to share about their experience. However, there are some questions you may have that can come across as insensitive or intrusive. Avoiding these questions when you discuss adoption can help to make the conversation less awkward and more rewarding for everyone involved. Following are a few of the questions never to ask an adoptive family about their adoption.

Who are your child’s real parents?

The intent behind this question is an innocent one: You want to know more about the child who has joined your loved one’s family. However, to refer to a child’s biological parents as their “real” parents devalues the fact that the adoptive parents are their real parents too. Their love for and commitment to their adopted child is equal to the love and commitment parents have toward their biological children. It is better to refer to the child’s biological parents as just that: The biological parents or the birth parents.

In addition, asking about personal information regarding the adopted child’s birth parents can be viewed as intrusive. There are many details of the adoption and adoption process that are private, including the names and situations of the birth parents. While the adoptive couple may share this information with you if they want, you should refrain from asking for personal details that the family may wish to keep to themselves.

Why did the birth mother give such a sweet child up for adoption?

This question and all its variations (such as “where is the birth mother?” or “what is wrong with the birth mother?”) reflect a misguided perception of birth mothers as irresponsible and uncaring people. The fact is that most birth mothers have placed their child for adoption as the result of a long and difficult decision-making process. And, they have made that choice because they love their child and want what is best for them. They are not bad people. In fact, they love their children enough to make a difficult decision in their best interest.

In addition, the term “give up” a child for adoption implies that the birth mother abandoned or did not care for her child. The truth is that the birth mother made a heart rending decision to place her child for adoption. She did what she thought was best for the child, instead of “giving up” on the child because she did not care about him or her. The better term to use is “place” instead of “give up,” because “place” more accurately reflects the care and effort that went into finding the very best forever family for the child.

How much did you pay for your child?

This question is insulting to adoptive couples because children are not commodities to be bought and sold. While there were expenses involved in the adoption process, there are also hospital bills and other costs associated with giving birth to a biological child. The adopted child has not been purchased any more than the biological child has been. Instead, the child is a beloved member of the family whose value does not have a price. In addition, asking about the expense of an adoption is similar to asking a family how much they spent on maternity bills and hospital expenses when having their biological child. Such information is private and irrelevant to the love the adoptive family has for their child.

If you are thinking about pursuing adoption yourself, you may find it tempting to ask about the costs your friends or family faced. In this case, however, you can learn about the costs associated with adoption online or through consulting an adoption agency. Instead of asking your friends or family about how much they personally spent on their adoption, ask them instead for references to good adoption agencies whom you can consult for help with your own adoption journey.

SEE ALSO: Tips for Helping Children Process Their Adoption

Are you afraid of being in contact with the birth mother?

One of the common misconceptions regarding open adoption is that the birth mother will want to take her child back at some point. The truth, however, is that legally, the adopted child is the adoptive couples’ child. They cannot be taken back by their birth mothers, so adoptive couples do not have reason to worry about being in contact with the birth mother.

In addition, assuming that the birth mother will try to take her child back from the family she carefully chose herself reflects a view of birth mothers that is both inaccurate and insulting. Most birth mothers are good people who made the decision to place their child for adoption because they love their child. The open adoption relationship often reassures them that they have made the right decision, instead of making them want their child back. As a result, reflecting concern that something bad will happen to the adopted child because the family stays in contact with the birth mother can come across as insensitive and awkward for your adoptive friends or family.

Discussing adoption can be a rewarding experience for you and for your adopting friend or family member. They will need people who can share in their joy as they grow their family. By avoiding certain insensitive questions, you can support adoptive families, make their adoption experience a little bit easier, and become the type of person that they want to have around them as they ease into life with their new child.

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