5 Ways to Respond to Criticism About Your Adoption
So, you finally decided to make that move for your family towards adoption. You found your adoption agency, and now you are ready to announce it to the world that you and your family are adopting!
This is such an exciting time of daydreaming about what your future child is going to look like, how it is going to be when they get to your home – and you get to be their mom or dad!
This is the “paper” pregnancy time. It is a time for joy and celebrating, planning and preparation. Maybe even a shower or a party to get you ready for this big, new step in your life!
Our adoption announcement.
But what happens when everyone in your life doesn’t feel as excited as you? Or maybe some are not just - not excited, but not even supportive?
I think I was a little caught off guard, and perhaps even a little naïve to the fact that this could be a possibility in many different areas in life. There are family, friends, neighbors, schoolmates, church members, coworkers, business acquaintances, and strangers that want to pipe in. Every. Where. You. Go. There is going to be at least one person in your life who is not going to approve of your decision.
So now is the time to prepare for how you are going to respond. I wish I had done this more when were going through the process.
First of all, give all your fears, worries and anxiety to God. If He has planned this for your life, He is going to orchestrate all these things as they should go. Be prayerful now about God’s plan for your family and how God is going to use you. Specifically, pray how you can best answer the questions, comments and opinions.
Any time I have a stressful situation or trials in my life, my dad sends me this verse – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6
2. Come Up With Canned Answers Now
At a minimum, there will be questions from strangers for sure. I have been so fortunate that we have not had any really awful experiences in this area – but it is still jarring some of the questions you get (especially at first).
We have had everything from: ‘Why in the world would you want to adopt?’ ‘Do you have fertility issues?’ ‘What is your son’s story – why was he in CPS care in the first place?’ and ‘Do you get looked at funny for being a mixed family?’
Some questions are from the truest, purest parts of people. Some are just an attempt at a conversation starter.
I remember when we first got Nathaniel, we had soooo many questions from everyone. At that point, I was still classified as a “foster-to-adopt” mom and we were still battling legal issues. So every new doctor we saw, every new worker we had come in our home, I had to explain our whole story over and I had to keep saying I was a “foster mom.” It was exhausting and heart breaking many times. I even remember telling my husband one day, “I am just ready for the day that I feel normal and don’t have to talk about this adoption anymore. I just want to be his mom!”
And it was that very moment that it hit me. I was ALWAYS going to have talk to people about being an adoptive momma. So I decided I was going to do this with style and grace, and use this as our biggest witnessing opportunity. I have been able to talk to so many strangers I never would have gotten to talk to before!
So now when I am asked, “Why in the world would you decide to adopt?” I can say, “Because God put a love for children without a home in my heart at a very young age. I realized I have an amazing home, support system and a whole lot of love to give that some child was just waiting for me to give them. And it was the best thing I ever did for me and my family.”
3. Be prepared to be direct.
There are times when questions or comments are too detailed or personal for you to give information. Everyone wants to know the child’s path and birth parents story; some out of concern, some out of curiosity.
I had to find a balance in what I revealed. I am people pleaser, I like to talk, and I have a large community of friends, family, extended family, etc. who all want to know everything. And I so much want to give everyone everything of myself! But I learned, that some of our story is not mine to share. So it is okay to say, “Since this is such a personal issue, we have decided not to share out of respect for our son’s privacy.”
Do you want all of your dirty secrets laundered around? Asked every time people saw you and then talked about at length? Maybe a fight you and your spouse had. I would venture to say no. And when your children are little it feels like such a small thing to tell, but as they get older and realize what that adoption means, everyone knowing everything about them is usually not something children want – adopted or not!
4. Prepare for the possibility of losing relationships
A stranger not agreeing or understanding what you are doing can still hurt your feelings and make you mad about the narrow-mindedness of people. But a close friend or a family member, that is a direct hit to the heart.
There may be people close to you who do not accept or support your decision to adopt. They may invite you for visits – minus your new addition. Or they may feel the need to voice their opinion every time you see them in front of your children. Which of course is NOT okay!
Just a word of caution: Sometimes people change once there is an actual child in your home. Just because they have strong feelings prior to the adoption does not mean that has to be how they will always feel.
5. Just Be the Light
This is kind of a family mantra that we have at our house. And we pray every night that we can just “shine our light.”
Jesus references many times in the New Testament the analogy of being the light. I particularly like the verse in Matthew 5:16, "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
The Bible tells us to be in this world but not of this world. So when we actually do what Christ instructed, we are extreme! So that may not sit well with others. That’s okay. That means we are actually setting ourselves apart!
For our family, our adoption has been our biggest testimony. It was hard, it was long, it was risky, and it was radical to many people – so why would we do this?! Because, God loved us first and saved us first. And then he told us to love everyone around us.
I am praying for you and your sweet family – whether you are going through your adoption now, thinking about adopting one day or you already adopted. Don’t let the questions scare you from doing what God instructs of you. Change those questions from annoying to edifying and keep on loving like Christ did!
Holly Nicole James