Monday, February 7, 2011

Adoption Etiquette

Disclaimer: I do not by any means claim to be an expert in this area, having not completed an adoption, yet. However, during the past 3 years of our adoption journey, we have encountered several occasions in which I wish I had known the etiquette of adoption, specifically the etiquette of appropriate adoption language.
Here is a helpful chart that I found on adoptive

Now here are a few of the less blissful comments we've heard during the last 3 years along with the response that we didn't always have on hand
(we harbor no ill will toward the authors of these comments, we may have uttered even worse before we became passionate about orphans and adoption)

1. "what about your real children, aren't you worried about how this will impact them?"

First of all, any adopted child of ours will be our real child, no pretend kids here.
Secondly, yes we have thought about how this will impact our kids, we think it will be an excellent way for them to experience firsthand the amazing way we have been adopted by God through Jesus Christ.

2. "aren't you worried what people will think, your parents, other relatives?"

No. Our parents and family have been amazingly supportive and excited. And, gasp, we all live
in the Deep South.

3. "I could never adopt because you just never know what you are going to get, mental, physical, emotional issues. With my biological children at least I can trace our medical history and know what to expect".

News flash...we never can know what we'll "get". How many families do you know whose kids don't have some sort of unpredictable issue ranging from a severe aversion to vegetables to severe physical handicaps? None of us can know, being a parent is the ultimate, unpredictable journey.

4. "aren't you worried about the issues a child of a different race may face as he/she grows up and feels alienated in your blonde headed, mainly blue-eyed, fair skinned family?"

I did, honestly do, worry about this. We have sought out countless books and other families who have adopted a child of a different race. I believe it is important to educate yourself on your childs' birth culture and be willing to embrace that culture. Sometimes I worry about our future adopted child rejecting us or being embarrassed by us in their teen years. Wait, isn't that a rite of passage for all teens, bio, adopted, blue, yellow, green?

5. "why spend so much on international or domestic adoption when there are so many children languishing in our foster care system?"

Usually this is said in an accusing tone, interestingly always by those who have never adopted. We are not opposed to adopting from the foster care system, we recognize there is a huge need.  Furthermore, there is no perfect adoption scenario, an orphan is a child in need of a loving family.  Sadly, orphans can be found on every continent and from every race.  Instead of debating where someone chooses to adopt from why not rejoice that they are willing to adopt, period.

If you have adopted and have advice to share, please do so.  I am eagerly seeking ways to educate myself and others, not only about the need for adoptive families, but also how to respectfully support those families.



  1. Great post, Polly! I really appreciated your explanations and bringing light to this important subject. And thank you for introducing yourself on my blog! Great to "meet" you! Love that you have an Oliver too...such a great name! Blessings to you on this amazing journey!

  2. Oh girl!! This was so great to read. I gave a *she knows! sigh* I've heard just abot each of those comments. 8 yrs later and I still get them....sometimes even from my best friends.

    Your responses are awesome and wise! Believe me, once that child is in your will be amazed at how different everything looks.

  3. Well said/written! I'm so sorry you've had to go through folks being rude like that. I honestly believe most don't have any idea how their questions come across, but the words sting nonetheless.

    About the "real children":

    Hmmmm.....please tell anyone who says something like that to put themselves in the position of the adopted child--they ARE REAL children.

    My parents are my REAL parents.

    No, they're not BIOLOGICALLY mine, but they love me and I love them.

    They took care of me and now I take care of them.

    REAL families do that!


    MANY Blessings to you,

  4. Oh Polly this was so well written! You go, girl. The child lucky enough to get you for a mommy will be so blessed. :-) xoxo

  5. Amen sister! :-)

    SO glad Shannan shared this post with me tonight.


  6. As an empty nester with one child (age 21) who just moved away for college last month, I read your posts and thank God that there are people like you who have a passion for children. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  7. Great post, Polly! Thanks for stopping by my blog with your encouragement and sweet comment. I look forward to hearing about your adoption journey as well. You know, I find that people have a tendency to say "those things" about topics they don't understand and it often comes across in a negative way. This is certainly the case for my husband and I as we've gone through our struggles with infertility. It always makes me feel strong to see those comments and questions as an opportunity. It's an opportunity to inform others and to empower yourself. People perhaps don't think they would be strong enough themselves to do what you're doing--which is following God's call to you. You're doing the right thing; let your voice be heard, girl! Much love to you.

  8. I just came upon your blog through Life in Grace. First of all, you have a beautiful home. My dream would be to have my home completely done and decorated, but alas, that hasn't been Gods plans. He has allowed us to adopt 16 children in our life and now I can say, our family is complete ;) I will continue to read your blog and see how God finishes His story in your life.


Your kind words are such an encouragement, thanks for stopping by