10 Things Adoptive Parents Want You To Know

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10 Things Adoptive Parents Want You To Know

1. It’s not okay to ask how much I paid for my child. It’s okay to ask how much money adoption costs in general, but please don’t ask me how much money was spent on my child’s adoption. There are a lot of ways to adopt and each of those ways cost a different about (foster to adopt vs. private adoptions) but to ask how much I paid cheapens (pun intended) our family. 

2. If you have questions about adoption please ask us! We (mostly) love to talk about it… but please don’t ask in from of our child. Some of us don’t mind talking about it with our child next to us (in general terms), but some of us do. You never know what lead to the family being created by adoption so it’s best to have the conversation in private.  

3. It’s not okay to ask if we still have our child or if they have gone back to their “real” parents. Especially if we have been a family for over three years. Yes, this actually happened to me and my then three year old (who over heard the conversation) was very worried about who her “real” family was and why she had to go back. Please think through your question before you say it and please also refer to #2.

4. A lot of us have had very good adoption experiences, but some of us have not. Don’t assume either way.

5. Please don’t ask why our children were placed for adoption, and especially don’t say “why didn’t their mom want them”. I’ve never met a birth parent who didn’t want their birth child. Children are placed out of love and the desire for them to have a better life than what the birth parent can offer, not because they are not wanted. Furthermore the only people that truly know the reasoning for placing a child for adoption are the birth parents. And even if we do know, that is a very private story that should only be told by our children when they are older, and only if they want to.

6. Please don’t ask details about our children’s birth families. That is also private and between our families.

7. Please don’t ask where we got our children. It’s a strange question really. If you would like to know how they joined our family please ask if they were adopted domestically or internationally. If we are comfortable saying more we will. If we don’t elaborate it’s safe to say we are not sharing that information.

8. Please never use the word real. Real mom, real dad, real sisters, real brothers, real family are all words that do more harm than good. I think the term you are looking for is biological, but even that should be used carefully. We are a family. That is all that matters.

9. Please don’t tell me my child is lucky to be adopted into our family. I promise you we are the lucky ones, not the other way around.

10. What we really want you to know is that we are a family. There is no difference between our biological children (if we have any) and our children through adoption. We are just a regular family, regardless of how we became one. 

What would you add to this list?

Heather Reese
the authorHeather Reese
Heather Delaney Reese is the storyteller and photographer behind the lifestyle and family travel blog, It's a Lovely Life®! For the past decade, she has vacationed over 150 days a year with her family. She is a vegan, and loves being by the water, spending time with her children, husband, 2 Shih Tzus and Cat.


  • I hear people use the work “real” all the time and it really irks me. Why does someone have to be referred to as “real,” “step,” “half,” and “adopted.” anyway?

  • Great tips, especially the one about people asking about the birth parents. It’s so intrusive and unnecessary.

  • Oh my gosh I can’t believe people would ask some of these!! I think adoptive parents are amazing to be able to share their love like this!

  • I honestly never thought about any of these questions because I just haven’t dealt with it enough. This is great information for people to remember!

  • I’m not adopted, nor do I have adopted childern, but I have always felt like I could see myself fostering, then adopting. We discourage the word ‘real’ in several family themes (divorce, adoption, etc) as family IS real, no matter how it comes together. Great article!

  • I think many times people ask the questions you mentioned above, not out of meanness but pure interest and curiosity. Thank you for sharing your views.

  • My friend (pale skin, red hair and her husband, brunette hair) adopted a child from Korea. As soon as she adopted her, everyone said – oh you’ll get pregnant now naturally (they had done 5 years of IVF for unknown infertility). I used to think how insensitive that question must have been. Guess what, they didn’t get pregnant and adopted another Korean child a couple of years later to make their family complete.

    • That is a really good one too (or shall I say bad one?) I heard that one too… I can’t imagine how horrible that would make the child feel? Like they were not good enough… or that poor Mom who had tried for so long and it probably brought ups a lot of pain from the past. So happy to hear that they were able to finally complete their family! And thank you for being such a good friend to her and know that those words hurt!

  • Oh my goodness, I could not ever imagine even thinking some of these questions. LOL… But I am sure someone out there does, so this is just great. I have friends that have adopted and I don’t see them any different than we are 🙂

  • I will never understand why anyone would ever ask any of those questions, but there are some really rude people out there. We have an adopted bi-racial child and my husband and I are caucasian. We get strange looks and a couple of times people have actually said, “I was trying to figure out if you had him before you got married.” Lord, have mercy!

  • These are great tips! My situation is a little different because my son is mine biologically but adopted by my husband but we still get some of the same questions.

  • I can definitely see how those questions could be intrusive and even hurtful. I hope more people come across this information!

  • I can not believe some of the things people have asked you. I can understand being curios but people need to think before they speak.

  • I would never ask some of these things to an adoptive parent. You poor child to have to worry about having to go live with her birth parents because of a stupid remark.

  • These are great things to share. I have a friend who has adopted her children and I know she has expressed these same thoughts.

  • Yes, definitely this list – all of it! I love this post and although I don’t think people mean to be insensitive, it would be lovely if they would take a sec to think through the question before asking – especially in front of the kids.

  • These are great tips, I am sure so many people ask hurtful questions without realizing it. Posts like these are so helpful to bring awareness to offensive situations, I feel like this happens a lot with infertility/miscarriages too.

  • Adoptive parents are to be commended for their love and concern. However we should be sensitive to their needs and emotions especially when it comes to their adoption

  • This is such a great post! I wish everyone I know would read it…as I have fielded many of those questions over the years. Adopting from the foster care system provides it’s own challenges – they certainly don’t need to be magnified, especially within the child’s mind. Thank you for sharing your insight 🙂

  • I’d like to commend you for this post. This is something we should all read and they’re all points I’ll keep in mind.

  • This is a great list. Friends of mine are trying to adopt and I think it is so fantastic! Family is family and love and doesn’t have to mean blood relation!

  • I am a birthmother. I have my own reasons for giving my child up for adoption. Most people don’t know about it, so I am not asked many questions. I just hope that my child had parents as loving, kind, and intelligent as you are. I hope he wasn’t hurt by hurtful, insulting questions as he was growing up.

    • Thank you so much for the kind words! I’m sure your child was well loved… she had an awesome start with a birthmom like you!

  • Oh I can’t imagine having someone just flat out ask how much your child costs. Wow, asking about adoption is one thing but people just need to think before they open their mouths.

  • It is rude to ask these questions. A lot of people don’t think before opening their mouths.

  • This is great information for what adoptive parents want you to know. Sometimes people say or do the wrong things when they don’t understand certain situation so a post like this is so important. Thanks for sharing.

  • Great tips to know. Sometimes I think I can put my foot in my mouth. I’m curious about how things work because I find it interesting and amazing but my words come out wrong.

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