Things You Should Never Say to an Adopted Child
10 Things Your Adopted Child Should Never Have to Hear
No matter how your child is conceived or becomes a member of your family, nothing can lessen the legitimacy of the bond between a parent and a child. Parents who adopt are often confronted with questions about what it's like to love a child that is not "their own," and adopted children also have to deal with ridiculous and insensitive comments from others — sometimes even from those who really mean well. If you're welcoming an adopted child into your family, if your adopted child has reached an age where they're starting to ask more questions, or if they've been hurt by something someone said to them at school, nothing is more important than transparency, honesty, and incredible amounts of love. Here are just a few things you (and everyone else) should never saying to a child who is adopted.
- "I'm sure your biological mother did what she thought was best for you." Whether she did or she didn't, mothers put their children up for adoption for all sorts of reasons, and your child doesn't need you to justify that reason in order to feel loved.
- "You're much better off now than you would have been." Adopted children shouldn't have to compare their family to a family they never knew. No one can say whether the situation would have been any better or worse, so it's not productive for them to wonder what could have been.
- "I chose you, which makes you even more special." "Chosen" and "special" are nice, but what an adopted child wants to hear more than anything is that he or she is just "normal."
- "Who are your real parents?" This question suggests that the people who raise an adopted child aren't real, which isn't true at all. This question can cause confusion and hurt, because you're asking them to choose one over the other.
- "You should feel so lucky." If there's something adopted children do not owe their adoptive parents, it's their eternal gratitude. Kids can (and should!) feel grateful for kind and loving parents, but an adopted child shouldn't be made to feel that you did them this huge favor. You love them, they love you, and you're a family. That's it.
- "You're just as much my child as your siblings are." Comparing your love for your birth child to your adopted child only brings attention to their differences. This is something that shouldn't have to be said if it's really true.
- "I bet most people can't even tell that you were adopted." Resembling their adoptive family isn't something adoptive children should aspire to in order to feel legitimate.
- "Where are you really from?" This question can make an adopted child feel like they don't fit into a certain box that society tells them they should. They may have a different heritage and not look like their siblings or parents, but that doesn't mean they aren't from that family.
- "I wish I was adopted." Children who are adopted can go through a lot, and to casually throw this into a conversation with them can be heartbreaking. You're implying that you don't like your parents and wish for the "easy" way of just joining a new family.
- "I love you just as much as I would if you were my own." The minute you decide to welcome a child into your home, he or she becomes yours. It's not "if" they were your own, because they already are.