Sunday, November 22, 2015

7 Questions You Never Ask a Pregnant Woman

Thanks so much for the overwhelming response to our story. It is my prayer that it encouraged you as well as entertained you. Our journey was far from smooth, but there is nothing about it I would change knowing the outcome it brought us. I also want you to know that I'll be blogging soon about some of the challenges we've faced along the way and still face when it comes to parenting kids who come from challenging situations. But, today, I wanted to share something a little different.

So, with tongue firmly in cheek, I present to you 7 Questions You Never Ask a Pregnant Woman (also known as 7 things people hear all too often when they announce they're adopting).

1) You're pregnant? Congratulations! But couldn't you adopt your own children?

This one tops the list for couples who don't have biological children. Frequently, yes, couples have struggles with infertility prior to making the decision to adopt. But that isn't always the case. Sometimes a couple has decided to adopt BEFORE attempting to have biological children. Or perhaps a couple has just seen the need for adoption. Regardless, and ESPECIALLY in the case of a couple struggling with infertility, they probably don't want to discuss it with you. If you are a close enough friend, you most likely already know their struggles. If not, then just remain curious (which is a nice way of saying, it's probably none of your business).

2) Aren't you afraid your biological baby will have problems?

This is one no one ever asks a pregnant woman, but adoptive families hear all the time. While it is true that children who are adopted often come with a unique set of challenges, it is no more guaranteed with an adopted child than it is with a biological child. As a matter of fact, for a couple who is adopting an older child (and not a newborn), frequently the child's needs are known before the child comes home. Biological kids sometimes don't come with the same information.

3) What if your biological kid doesn't look like you?

I have brown eyes. My mom has green eyes. While I have many of her mannerisms, I don't necessarily look like her even though we have the same skin tone. My children have brown eyes like I do. They just happen to have darker skin and hair. Regardless, it's just cosmetic. (And, yes, I realize this is oversimplifying trans-racial adoption. I'm just saying, for couples who are willing to adopt children of a different race, they've already thought about it.) Next question.

4) Why would you get pregnant when there are so many kids who need good homes in this country?

This is the one that people who have adopted internationally get a lot. It can also be phrased, "why would you go to Africa (or Haiti, or Russia, or....) when kids here need homes?" Simple answer, "because that's where my kid was." Everyone has their own reason why they adopt from where they adopt. Regardless of that reason, they are providing a loving home for a child who needs one and that is the most important thing.

5) Doesn't it cost a lot to have a bio kid?

Oh, yes, the money thing. Adoption can be expensive. Or it can be almost free (if you adopt through foster care). Giving birth can be expensive (especially if it involves infertility treatments), but it's rarely free. People usually find it off limits to ask about another family's finances. Unless an adoptive family willingly tells you how much it's going to cost and asks you to contribute, they would probably you rather not ask.

6) Are you sure you can love your bio kid like you do an adopted kid?

I have a friend who answered this one beautifully. She says, in some ways, she loves her adopted kids MORE than her bio kids. Because the bio kids just came to her, but she had to FIGHT for her adopted kids. And there's just something about fighting for something (whether it's fighting for their custody, their trust, or their attachment) that makes you cling to it even harder. Any parent with more than one child will tell you that their love for their children may be different at times, but it is no more or no less for any of them.

7) If you get pregnant, I'm sure you'll adopt right after that.  I hear that happens all the time.

This is my personal favorite. It usually goes like this, "my cousin's sister's friend adopted and RIGHT AFTER THAT found out she was pregnant. They just relaxed and quit worrying about it and then it happened." First off, see question number 1. If a couple has struggled with infertility, they have probably labored over the adoption decision for a long time. And, while there may still be hope of a biological child in years to come, that is not why they are adopting. They have made the decision to become parents now and this is not a "second best thing" to having a bio kid.

As I've said, if you are family or close friends with someone who is adopting, then you're probably in the circle of trust and can ask these questions. But unless you're sure you've earned that trust, the most appropriate response is just "Congratulations! I'm so excited for you!" And then mean it. Because that couple that just announced it is just as excited as that couple that just announced their pregnancy. And they are probably also more nervous. So hug them, cheer them, pat them on the back. Just don't immediately ask them things they may not want to tell you.


  1. Nice perspective shift! Thank you for sharing your experiences.

    A great book that we shared with our circle of friends and family (and they found useful):
    In On It: What Adoptive Parents Would Like You To Know About Adoption. A Guide for Relatives and Friends. (Mom's Choice Award Winner)
    by Elisabeth O'Toole

    1. Thanks so much for reading! I really should have researched books before we told our family and friends. They were incredibly supportive, but some education would have helped. Thanks for the info!