With many families formed by adoption or expanded by adoption, we felt it was important to address some etiquette surrounding adoption. Most people have friends who have adopted, but there are still many misconceptions about adoption. Sometimes people don’t know what’s right or wrong to ask. Sometimes you may say the wrong thing unwittingly. So InCultureParent has put together a list of things you should know about adoption: a collection of adoption dos and don’ts. In our previous article, we addressed what not to say to adoptive parents. Here are some suggestions of the things you can say.
1. Do feel free to ask about the adoption process. It is a complicated process and people have lots of questions, but just think about the timing of these questions. It is often best to have these discussions–especially those involving the costs of adoption–when my child is not around.
2. Do compliment our family, with the exception of saying, “It’s so great what you are doing.”
3. Do refer to me as my child’s mother (same goes with father) and her biological mother as her biological or birth mother.
4. Do avoid using the word “real” when referring to my family, as in real mother or father, my real children, their real siblings.
5. Do refrain from making comments about how lucky my child is. You wouldn’t tell a child how lucky he is to have made it out of the NICU if he was born prematurely.
6. Do make my child feel as if our family was created in a very special way.
7. Do presume that adoption was my first choice— not my second, third or last.
8. Do assume my children can hear and understand (so don’t ask things like, “How did their parents die?” in front of them).