Patiently Waiting | What Not to Say to Expecting Adoptive Mothers

Just for fun

October 30, 2017

We are now just days away from Baby Sister joining our family! With November being National Adoption Month, I have had time to reflect on our waiting period of this adoption. I’ve had a lot of things said to me during this time, so today I am going to share to educate. And yes, if I’m sharing this, it’s because I have had it said to me. I am not sharing to put anyone down or make anyone feel bad about themselves; because I know I have said at least one of these things before being in these shoes myself. When you’re not there, you often just don’t know! I hope that this post helps people understand that sometimes their joking comments aren’t the best things to say. I hope you find this educational and that I share this in a loving way that doesn’t upset anyone. And I know I can probably do another one of these when she’s here with the comments that will be made to me then… we’ll see what people say to me!

1) At least you don’t have to be pregnant
This is the number one thing said to me during this time of waiting for our baby and is honestly the hardest one. Unless an adoptive mother leads the conversation and talks about how she is glad to not be pregnant, please never say this to a mom expecting a baby through adoption. Don’t make comments about how she’s lucky she doesn’t have to go through a pregnancy or push a baby out. Don’t make jokes about her ability to have alcohol and how lucky she is to get to drink. Many women (not all) have come to the place of adoption after years of trying to conceive their own baby with no success. Just because they are adopting does not mean that their desire to carry a baby in their own womb just magically goes away. I’m in an adoption support group online and a lady asked a question the other day: “are pregnancy announcements still hard for you to see?” And the resounding answer was “yes” from the women in the group. A few said that it wasn’t hard for them, but majority of them said it was still hard. We LOVE our babies no less because they are adopted, but our bodies are designed to grow a baby in them and we are given those desires to do so. Just because I am adopting doesn’t mean I no longer wish I could carry a baby myself.

2) You look so good for expecting 
On the same lines as above, please don’t joke with an expecting adoptive mom about how good she looks for being 9 months pregnant. She’s not pregnant. Yes, she is expecting a child, but this is through adoption. Don’t make jokes about being in her third trimester. Don’t make jokes about how her body looks. Just don’t do it.

3) Now that you’re adopting, you will get pregnant!
You know what, THIS might actually be the number one thing that has been said to me, not the first thing; but they are both really close. This is an urban myth that people cling to. There is no research out there that shows this to be true. Sure you can think of a friend or maybe two who have adopted and gotten pregnant, but how many more people do you know that have adopted and not gotten pregnant. People cling to the couple of stories they know and assume this is just what happens to everyone; and this comment is so hurtful in so many ways. Not everyone comes to adoption after infertility. Maybe the Lord has called them to adopt and they have no desire to have a biological child. And on the other side of it (as I have mentioned before), there are those of us who have tried to conceive and haven’t been able to, that was a rough, emotional, (and often) expensive road, so joking about how a mom will get pregnant is not funny. In fact, you never know someone’s story. They might have medical issues keeping them from ever getting pregnant and you saying something like that just hurts even more. Please don’t assume just because they are adopting that some magical pregnancy dust will fall on them and they will get pregnant.

4) I’ve adopted my dog, too! That’s so cool! 
Please don’t compare you going to a shelter to pick out a dog to the same thing as an adoption. Did you have to get background checks, fingerprints, a home study, referral letters, physicals, pay thousands upon thousands of dollars to adopt your dog? Did you go through months of waiting and praying and wondering if the adoption would actually happen? Did you struggle with the emotions of everything that comes with an adoption? Please do not compare your dog to a child. Yes, it’s a great thing that you rescued your dog from a shelter; and that’s exactly what you did- you rescued your dog. Adoption of a child is not the same. Don’t compare getting a dog to the adoption of my child.

5) Your child is so lucky 
As I have learned in my reading and studying throughout this process, all adoption comes with some sort of trauma, even newborn adoptions. Some children have to live in an orphanage for years before finding their forever family. Some are bounced from one home to the next in the foster care system before they get their forever family. Some never know who their birth parents are. There is nothing lucky about any of this. These children walk these challenging and hard roads before finding their forever families. In my case, we are adopting a newborn and she will not experience these things; but she will still deal with emotions as she grows up about her adoption. I get what people are trying to say here, but this is something that rubs me the wrong way. In the adoption support group, this has been discussed as well. There is a lot of implication behind the “your child is so lucky” statement. Instead, say something like, “what a blessing the two of you will be to each other.” This is a much better way of saying what you’re probably trying to say.

6) I’d be so scared that the birth mom would change her mind 
While I get the reason behind the comment, it does not help an expecting adoptive mother to hear this. She most likely already is dealing with her own doubts and fears, so having someone reinforce that or create new fears is not good. The adoptive parents want to go into this fully expecting their baby to go home with them, they also understand that there is a chance it won’t happen. They don’t need you to remind them. Trust me, it’s in the back of their minds probably more than they want it to be. In Georgia, we have a 10 day revocation period in which after the baby is here, we get to take her home with us; but the birth mom could contact us in that period and say she wanted the baby back. Some states have as short as 24.5 hours and some as long as 30 days. Instead of saying, “I would be scared out of my mind during those 10 days,” say “I will be praying (or thinking of you) during that time of waiting.” Adding to the fears or stresses of a new mom (or about to be new mom) isn’t helpful.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. Again, I hope you find it informative and helpful! Thanks for the continued support in our adoption!

  1. Carolyn Hebel

    October 30th, 2017 at 3:22 pm

    Wow Mandi!! This is beautifully written!!!
    I pray every one should read this!! In today’s world this is an excellent reminder for every one of us!!! Thank you for sharing some practical approaches to adoption and the families involved!!!!! Bless you and your family and the adoption of your baby girl!!!<♡

  2. mandi

    October 30th, 2017 at 8:23 pm

    Thanks so much Carolyn! My hope is that is helps people see a perspective they never thought before. 🙂

  3. Diane Mason

    October 31st, 2017 at 12:50 am

    Mandi, thank you for this insightful and helpful piece. God bless you all and your soon to be arrival! What an exciting time!

  4. Amy

    November 1st, 2017 at 1:53 am

    Yep. All of this. As an adoptive mama, I totally agree with every single one of these. The “he/she is so lucky” is such a hard one to explain – I usually just say “WE’RE the lucky ones”. Wonderful article, Mandi!

  5. mandi

    November 1st, 2017 at 2:09 am

    Thanks Amy! I know you get it! 🙂

  6. tracy

    November 9th, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    So well written. I’m so excited for you Mandi!

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