Things You Should Never Say to Adopted Children

Adoptive parents are typically required to attend educational classes and read books on open adoption, but that may be where the educating stops. As open adoptions are becoming more and more common, it is important for the public to understand some of the basics surrounding children of open adoption. Below are a few examples of some of the things you should never say to children who have been adopted:

1. Who are your real parents?

Most adopted children have known their adoptive parents since birth and therefore do not know any different. The only family they know is their adoptive family, their forever family. Adoptive parents should always talk to their children about their adoption story so they are well aware of why their birthparents chose adoption.

2. Why would your real parents give you away?

Every adoption story is different and every child has the right to decide whether or not they want their story shared. Families should talk to their children about their adoption story and explain to their children that they don’t necessarily have to share their story with anyone. They also have the right to share certain parts of their story.

3. You must hate your real parents for giving you away?

Children of open adoption are not “given away.” Birthparents make a selfless and responsible decision to place their children for adoption. By choosing an adoptive family, they know who will raise their child and can continue to have ongoing contact. By keeping an open relationship, everyone will always know the adoption was made out of love.

4. Do you ever think about leaving your adoptive family and going to live with your real parents?

By having knowledge of their adoption story and access to their birthparents, children of open adoption don’t feel the need to go out of their way to find their birthparents or fantasize about them.

5. Who do you love more, your real parents or your adoptive parents?

Children of adoption certainly have love for their birthparents, but the love that they have for their birth family will never replace the love they have for their parents.

6. Being adopted must be hard.

Though being adopted is a part of the child’s identity, it certainly does not make up their whole lives or create restrictions for them. Children of open adoption are unique, just like every other child.

7. Why do you look different then your parents?

Love makes a family, not the resemblances one has to their parents.

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  • Lane Mashal

    Though we can try to educate adults about what “never” to say, it will happen anyway. It is helpful to teach our children how to respond when these questions are inevitably posed to them. In particular, many of their peers ask these questions, starting in day care and preschool. Arming our children with answers helps them tell their own stories and remove any shame. Being proactive to educate caregivers and teachers also empowers them to be alert to these interactions and to help the children learn about each other in a non-judgmental way. Children (as well as adults) told that questions are ways for people to learn, see their role as educators, not assuming their source is mean or judgmental, just that they don’t know about adoption. Children can be great teachers.

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