Adoptimist Adoption Blog
July 26, 2016

It’s Different When You’re Adopting


You can usually tell when someone is pregnant — not the whole pregnancy, but usually after the third month or so, you can tell. It’s not like that with adoption. You can’t tell by looking at us. Men look the same whether they’re going through an adoption or a pregnancy, but not women. Women feel the difference. We know.

There are no growing or changing physical characteristics to mark an adoption journey. If we want people to know we are adopting, we either rely on others to spread our news, or we announce it ourselves. But you can’t tell by looking at us.

Speaking as someone who has an adopted and a biological child, this is both a blessing and a disguise.

There were plenty of days during our adoption when I didn’t feel like talking about it. I was in a mood or maybe I got some discouraging news. Who knows? There were many days when I was excited about it though, and I did want to tell people. Either way, when people found out, the responses were, quite often, awkward.

When you announce a pregnancy, people get all excited like you did something super amazing. You had sex; that’s what you did. I can understand being excited for someone who had to go through years of uncertain infertility treatments, but most people had sex a bunch of times and “Jackpot!”

No matter how you get there, when you tell people “I’m pregnant!” it’s exciting. You’re starting a family! The news is great, and the responses are as well.

It’s different when you’re adopting.

When you announce you are adopting, people usually don’t know what to say. They want to know what to say because they mean well, but unless they have adopted themselves, most people stumble a bit.

If they’ve been prepped, that helps. Prepping (I made that up just now) is when you give someone a heads up about the adoption before committing to the actual act. I can’t remember if we prepped anyone about our adoption, but we probably didn’t.

Even if you prep a whole bunch of people, you’re still going to run into others who don’t know you’re adopting, and you’ll want/need to tell them. Sometimes, and this is always fun, you will be with a friend who decides it’s a good idea for her to announce you’re adopting.  Then you’re put in a position for discussion whether you want to be or not.

When it comes to adoption, most people (not everyone, but most people) feel the need to say something other than “Congratulations, you’re starting a family!” Even though that’s exactly what we want to hear.

So, what do you do?

When you get this:

“Oh, you’re adopting, that’s so great! I know someone who adopted. Well, my sister knows her, I actually have never met her. But I think she adopted from somewhere in the United States. Maybe not. Maybe Russia…I’m not really sure, but she adopted…blah blah blah…”

Just do this:

Let them talk. They’re looking for a way to connect, and that’s normal. When they are done, just say “That’s SO cool, thank you for telling me.” Then, if you want to talk more, you can, but if you don’t, you’re good to go.

When you get this:

“Oh, you’re adopting…?” like it’s a question. That is usually the person not having enough background information. In other words, they want to be excited for you, but they don’t know for sure if you really want to adopt, or if you can’t get pregnant. They don’t want to say the wrong thing, so they kind of stand there like a deer in headlights.

Just do this:

Help them. Throw them a bone. Try something like “Yes, we are adopting! We are so excited! And we’re going to mess this kid up same as we would a biological kid!” (Just kidding, don’t say the last part, unless you want to.) But definitely say the first part, and if you’re done with the conversation at that point, that’s fine. You said the right thing, and you’re good to go.

When you get this:

“OOOOOOOh! You’re adopting…” like they feel sorry for you. That usually means they assume you can’t get pregnant, and maybe you can’t. But you don’t need sympathy. You’re starting a family and it’s going to be awesome. You are excited, and they should be too.

Just do this:

Yes, we are adopting, and we are very excited!” (A slight variation to the response above.) From there, if you choose to further explain yourself, you can always give a quick back story about why you chose to adopt. Everyone’s story is different, so expect questions. Or, if you’re not feeling it, that’s okay too. You were set with your original response anyway.

Adoption is amazing, but it’s not the norm. (Most amazing things aren’t.) People don’t always know how to respond to adoption, and it’s not their fault. It’s just not an everyday conversation, so people often stumble when you tell them. But now you’re prepared. Preparation is KEY, and you will find if you’re comfortable and excited about your adoption, everyone else will be too.


About The Author


Robyn Coden

Robyn Coden is the straight-shooting, dessert-eating, mistake-making voice behind “Dim Sum & Doughnuts,” a blog that focuses on parenting, growing up and Robyn’s life with her husband and children at their summer camp in Northern Michigan. Robyn is the mother of one adopted daughter and one biological daughter. You never know what you’re going to get with Robyn—sometimes controversial, sometimes comedic, but always a voice that’s powerfully honest and entertaining.

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Visit Robyn's site at www.dimsumanddoughnuts.com
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About This Adoption Blog

The Adoptimist blog features advice, tips, and inspiration for adoptive parents who are actively pursuing adoption connections online.

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