8 Things I Wish People Wouldn’t Say To Waiting Adoptive Parents

This guest post is by Barb, a waiting adoptive mother.

The adoption journey can be a roller coaster ride. It has its ups and downs, good times and bad.

It’s important to surround yourself with people who support you and encourage you.

Too often, though, even well-meaning people will say the wrong things.

Sometimes, if you don’t know what to say, it’s better not to say anything.

My husband and I have been waiting to adopt for more than a year and-a-half and I’m pretty sure we have heard it all.

Here are eight things I wish people wouldn’t say to hopeful adoptive parents.


1.  What’s wrong? You can’t conceive?

There are many reasons for choosing adoption and infertility is just one of them.

For us, it’s actually the first choice.  Why not?  It’s just another way to grow your family.

Some people might be adopted themselves and wish to follow on that same path.

There are many other reasons too but the important thing to remember is that you should never ask a person or a couple about fertility.

If that is, in fact, the reason for pursuing adoption, I would imagine it to be a very sensitive topic.

2.  I could never give up my child.

Children are not given up for adoption.  They are placed for adoption.  There is a huge difference.

As well, there are many reasons why a woman would make an adoption plan for her child.

She may be facing an unexpected pregnancy or she may be very young and not able to provide for her baby the way she would like to.

There are countless reasons but unless you’ve been in her shoes, you shouldn’t make a judgment.

3.  God has a plan for you.

If you’re not religious, this statement can be pretty bothersome and insensitive.

Not everyone has the same views and it’s important to keep that in mind.

Instead, say something like, “I hope this works out for you.”

4.  Good things come to those who wait.

The truth is, nobody knows what will happen.

There is no crystal ball that predicts the future and hopeful adoptive parents know this.  We don’t need sugarcoating.

Instead, be realistic and say something like, “I can’t imagine what the wait must feel like.  Is there anything I can do to help?”

5.  You’re doing something amazing by saving a child.

We will not be saving a child.

Saying that implies that it needs to be saved from its biological family and that there is something wrong with that family.

Nobody should assume that they know the circumstances surrounding an adoption situation.

6.  Why don’t you just adopt from another country like China?  There are so many babies there.

International adoption is not the answer for everyone.  For some, this could be due to finances.

For others, perhaps it’s important to have the child share the same skin colour.

Also, there may be cultural differences that some people are not ready for or comfortable with.

We would love to have an open adoption and being in the same country as the birth parents is important to us.

Everyone will pursue the path that is right for them.

7.  What if you end up with a problem child?

This question is very hurtful on so many levels.

We should not automatically assume that children who are adopted will cause problems.

In addition, any child could end up facing issues at some point in life regardless of whether he or she was adopted or not.

This is a stigma that will hopefully disappear sooner than later.

8.  How can you love a child who is not your own?

Once you adopt a child, that child will be your own.

DNA is not what makes a parent.  Love is.

If you can love your partner, for example, you can love someone whose genetics you don’t share.

Offering hopeful adoptive parents support and encouragement during their adoption journey is one of the best things you can do for them.

But because adoption is such a sensitive subject, it’s important to educate yourself beforehand about what you should—and shouldn’t—say.

Barb is a waiting adoptive mother who lives in Toronto with her husband Tony and their awesome dog, Gretzky. They are excited to become parents and are hoping for that right match to come along. 

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