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Awesome Etiquette: Talking About The Choice To Adopt

People sometimes struggle to know how to talk about your choice to adopt and can mistakenly offend. When should you tolerate these comments and when can you educate someone about what they've said?

Sometimes people can unintentionally offend us with a statement that they think is a compliment. What is the best way to let someone know about their mistake, without making them feel terrible?

I'm the mother of three beautiful adopted children. Our family decided that we would be open about the adoptions from the start and most people know that our sons are adopted. The problem is that many people choose to make statements like "you and your husband are such good people" or that we "saved" our sons. It's not something we did because we wanted to be better people. It was just the way we chose to grow our family. Their father has always felt it is best just to accept the compliment. I feel that it does a disservice to not take the opportunity to educate these well-meaning people on how their compliment comes across to many of us in the adoption community. Can you please ring in on this debate.

Thank you,


This is not an uncommon thing for parents who have adopted to feel and to experience. It's really hard to walk the line between feeling the desire to educate other people and doing what's right.

Sometimes you need to take your husband's suggestion of just letting them say it; often it's not the moment where you're going to educate so just be tolerant and move forward. You might find opportunities if they ask a follow up question to get into that role of educating.

Try using a quick phrase like "I appreciate that you might not know this but we didn't save our children, we adopted them."

However, when you're dealing with someone who is ignorant of the fact that they are offending you, it's okay to make a quick correction to let them know that an offense occurred. Try using a quick phrase like "I appreciate that you might not know this but we didn't save our children, we adopted them." Showing some understanding about what they're trying to say is a good way to open them up to the issue.

It's important to not become a crusader on an issue like this but to make yourself feel like you can stand up for what you want. You need to be in assessing in each situation to what degree you're going to challenge people's assumptions and to what degree you're going to move on.

This is a really important concept to be thinking about and to be handling well. We hope this helps and best of luck moving forward. 

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