One Phrase You Must Never Say To An Adoptive Mom.

and 8 reasons why!

*Editor’s Note- This is a guest post from our good friend Rachel Lewis. She is a foster mom, biological mom and adoptive mom. She started her fostering journey before enduring recurrent loss and infertility, and shares transparently about her journey to creating a family on her blog The Lewis Note. Connect with Rachel on Facebook and Instagram.

Adoptive parents are no strangers to inappropriate statements from others. But some statements that should never be uttered, regardless of the situation, or how well you know the person saying them.

Power of the sea

I’ve heard it. You’ve heard it. Maybe you’ve said it. You know someone. I know someone. Maybe you know 10 someones. And yet saying it is seriously not cool.

“As soon as you adopt, you’ll get pregnant.”

Here are 8 reasons why you should never say this to an adoptive mom…

1. No one likes a “know it all.”

When a friend adopts a child, then announces a pregnancy later (no matter how much later), please keep this phrase far from your lips.

When you say, “I just knew you’d get pregnant as soon as you adopted . . . “, you are in essence saying, “Everyone knew exactly what was going to happen to your uterus the moment you added a child to your life. Aren’t you so glad you know now what the rest of us have known forever?”

Instead say, “I’m so glad *adopted child* will be a big brother/sister.”

2. You assume that they are adopting because they can’t get pregnant.

After starting foster care classes, I had excitedly told a coworker we were starting the process to get licensed with the hope of adopting. Her response?

“Now that you’re adopting, you’ll get pregnant.”

I was TOTALLY taken aback. Our daughter Maddy was 2. We conceived her from just skipping a few birth control pills on accident. We had no losses. . . no reason to believe that if we didn’t just skip a few pills, we wouldn’t be pregnant with another healthy child. In fact, I was convinced I was Mrs. Fertile Myrtle herself.

We weren’t adopting because we couldn’t get pregnant. We just wanted to adopt!

Instead say, “I’m so happy for you.”

3. You take the focus off the child who’s been adopted.

Imagine going to the hospital to meet a friend’s brand-new baby. Instead of ooh’ing and ahh’ing over their precious little bundle, you say, “Now that you’ve had a baby, you are SOOOO going to get pregnant again right away. It always happens.”

Of course, your friend likely doesn’t want to hear commentary on her fertility at that point. She just wants you to celebrate the beautiful addition to her family she has RIGHT NOW.

Instead say, “I’m celebrating with you!”

4. Adoption cures childlessness. It does not cure infertility.

“We’ve tried every test and treatment science has to offer. But — have you ever thought about just adopting? I once had a patient get pregnant right after adopting. Yeah . . . So, go adopt, and see me again when you’ve gotten that positive pregnancy test. Consider that a prescription!” said NO reproductive endocrinologist EVER.

If fertility doctors aren’t saying it — please — please — please — don’t you say it. Adoption cures childlessness. It is not a cure for infertility.

Instead say, “You’ve had a long journey to get here. We’re here for you all the way.”

5. Adoption is not a consolation prize. And pregnancy is not first place.

Whether you mean it to or not, this hated phrase sounds a lot like . . . “Now that you’ve gone through adoption, you can get what you REALLY wanted all along.”

Adding to your family through adoption is not a lesser way to have a child. Neither is pregnancy the Holy Grail of family planning.

Instead say, “I love that your family chose to adopt.”

6. Speaking of family planning, it’s not entirely your business.

For some reason, many of us think that the way others plan their family is totally our business. (It’s not.)

If someone chooses to pursue pregnancy at the same time as pursuing adoption, by all means let them. (Without your commentary.)

Maybe they are adopting an older child and want to have their children spaced just-so. Maybe they weren’t sure which would work out first — adoption or pregnancy. Maybe they have a condition that makes their biological clock tick much faster and waiting for an adoption to go through is not an option.

Instead say, “I’m here to support you as you grow your family however and whenever you choose.”

7. It makes it sound like infertility (if they have it) is just all in their head.

The idea behind the “just adopt so you can get pregnant” philosophy is that someone has an aching need, a need so great and so big, it’s self-destructive. They don’t have something because they want it too much, or are just trying too hard.

And finally, once that need (aka a baby) is filled through adoption, their body magically opens itself up to more babies. Ta-da!!!

So the reason they weren’t getting pregnant wasn’t that they had polycystic ovaries. Or their husband had crappy sperm. Or their uterus was an abnormal shape. Or any other reason people suffer from a physical disability.

No. None of that. It was just all in their head. Right?

Instead say, “I wish I could have spared you from all the pain you’ve endured on your way to growing your family. But I’m so grateful your family is growing now!”

8. This phrase never gives someone warm fuzzies.

Along our adoption journey, I’ve had this said to me every time I’ve gotten pregnant. I’ve been pregnant 6 times since we started this process — and suffered 5 losses. Now that we will have officially adopted (as of this Tuesday), I fear that I will hear this whenever we get pregnant again in the future.

Adopting, or starting the process of adopting, did not save any one of my much-wanted babies. Having my adopted child to hold and love has NOT cured my fertility issues. If we get pregnant again, and carry to term, it will be an act of God. Not an act of adoption.

After an adoption — and in the subsequent time of maybe having another biological child — please do give adoptive moms lots warm fuzzies. And not cold pricklies.

(And if you were still confused, the “you’ll get pregnant now that you’ve adopted” is definitely a cold prickly.)

Instead say, “I love your family. And am so glad to be a part of your life.”

And trust me, they will know that you are.

Question: Have you ever heard someone say this? Has someone said it to you? Share your story with us? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • joyfulgirl_3

    Here are my ‘favorites’.
    1. He’s so lucky to have you.
    2. I’m so glad people like you adopt.
    3. But, your older child is *yours* right? (meaning biological).
    4. Why would a 41 year old woman have a child? (Not everyone knows my youngest is adopted.)
    5. They *look* like brothers. …This….this from a social worker.

    • Wow! Unbelievable. Unfortunately, we’ve been there!

    • Sharon Jennings Bowler

      We had three adult daughters when we adopted a baby girl. More than a few times we’ve been asked if we were trying for a boy, even by people who knew she was adopted.

  • Tracey Kazimir-Cree

    I get a lot of “she looks just like you (even though she’s adopted)” and “thank goodness you saved her from the life she could have had” and “I could never do what you guys did.” I just try to be gracious and joke that “I couldn’t have cooked a better one myself!”…mostly to make myself feel better that I wasn’t able to get pregnant. It doesn’t always work, but it’s my way to end this kind of conversation and move on to something else. It all hurts, but I _am_ blessed with a beautiful, smart, funny little girl who is the love of my life.

  • Allisonm

    In the late 1950’s, when my parents started their adoption journey, a woman had to be diagnosed with infertility to adopt in their state. I was placed as a newborn. By the time the state allowed finalization 18 months later, my mother was four months pregnant with my next brother, but couldn’t risk telling until I was permanently theirs. Thus, I have three younger siblings who are biologically related to my parents. No one knows why that worked out the way it did, but I’m glad it did because I love my siblings and wouldn’t trade them. In my generation, two of us have adopted a total of six children due to surgical infertility and one of us has identical twins who shared the only viable in-vitro embryo. My three adopted children were placed with us as school-aged siblings. They resemble each other strongly and by chance, all three share several physical characteristics with my husband. Of course, we have a lot of expressions and mannerisms in common now that we’ve been a family for years. There are many ways to become a family, all of which involve risk, and one is not superior to another in my view. I guess I was so old when we adopted that no one thought I would get pregnant at 49, so I missed out on that particular set of comments, but have gotten the ones others have mentioned.

  • Maria Larramendi

    Mike, the comment I get most is “Why did you adopt a teen, wouldn’t it have been easier with a younger child?”. Thankfully, this does not hurt my feelings. Perhaps because I would be thinking the same thing had it been someone else. When most people make comments, it is just coming from a place of a lack of understanding. My husband and I joined an adoption/foster care small group at church for 1 year before adopting, and I wonder what stupid questions/comments I made in that process (LOL).

    The one comment that makes me uncomfortable is “You are such good people or You did such a good thing”. Honestly, I don’t know how to respond. I usually say something like “If you only knew how many children don’t have families…it is so sad…we can all do something, even it it’s helping that family who does choose to adopt.”

  • Nevins Street

    My mother-in-law looked at me and said ‘well I guess I will never see a real grandchild from Richard (Her son)’. Thank-god her attitude changed or should would not have seen ‘any’ grandchild. BTW the ‘adopted’ grandchild, my daughter, is her favorite grandchild. She has taken her everywhere. Sometimes patience and forgiveness is needed. Some parents/family members come from another era and just don’t get it.

    • BigFatMama

      We only have biological. I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that when we adopt my Mother-in-law will not accept our adopted children as our children. We’ve been married 17 years and she still refers to my biological mother as my mother, even though I NEVER have. We have always wanted to adopt but haven’t been able to afford it and we have not been approved for fostering. The first time we applied they said that it was because we were too eager to be a forever home and they don’t approve people who they think wouldn’t want to give the child back to their biofamily. The second time they turned us down because we wanted children under our eldest’s age, and they told us to reapply once he was 10. When we did apply again and they said that we didn’t qualify because our yard wasn’t fenced. The last time they turned us down was because they said that I wanted to foster more than my husband did. That wasn’t true, I just have more of a gushing personality than he. We were so heartbroken over these rejections that we stopped applying for a while. Now they won’t take even an application from us because we have too many biological children to qualify. But if they change that law, or when our eldest moves out, we’ll reapply again.

  • Kelsey Jade Crockett

    My favorite (not) as we were preparing to foster and adopt was “Can you not have your own children?” So frustrating! We haven’t tried, but fostering and hopefully adoption next year is what God put on our hearts!

  • Katherine

    For me you left out: Oh that child/baby is so lucky to be with you guys! Oh dear friend, we are actually soooo blessed – grateful that God choose our arms for her/him to land in. They say it like we rescued them, saints, that child saved us… My dear hubby ALWAYS says, this was NEVER plan B, it was always God’s Plan A for our family…. and I agree…. I think taking those moments when peeps say not so smart words, view, to gently educated in kindness, so they better understand and awareness. As well as when they might start inappropriately asking questions about baby/child birth history, that is another private and delicate topic of boundaries!!!! It is their story to tell one day. But I can tell you about our love story. I literally had to teach my circle of friends as we journeyed a new road none of them knew how to navigate… Grateful I am wise aware and smiling strong, and love for others to know what a gift adoption is all around. Afterall, we are ALL adopted into the family of God, no family is left behind !!!!

  • Emilie Bishop

    Our story is unusual: we never got to adopt, but got pregnant instead. We had a miscarriage followed by infertility and decided to adopt (something we always wanted to do anyway, the stakes were just raised). After two years of waiting for a newborn through a large agency, we renewed our home study…and got pregnant. We had a couple (kind, well-meaning, but clueless) people tell us we should be happy because now we don’t “have to” adopt. Very, very few people have offered any comfort for the huge holes in our hearts from not fulfilling a dream that was every bit as real as a healthy pregnancy. Now I’m actually sterile (hysterectomy and ovary removal) with one miracle son and we’re trying foster-to-adopt. And it is a lot like my experience with pregnancy following loss and infertility–guarded, anxious, numb sense of deja vu. But we still feel called to parent a child we didn’t create alongside the one we did So yeah, #5 all the way.

    • Glad you were not discouraged enough to brave the rough waters again! Yay!