10 Things People Say That Drive Adoptees Crazy!

    People say the craziest things to adoptees! Don’t they? There are things you just shouldn’t say to adoptees. I get it; adoption is an awkward topic to speak about. However, it does not excuse the words you choose to use or what leaves your mouth. At the mention of someone saying, “I am adopted,” people tense up and get verbal diarrhea saying anything that comes to mind with no filter in hopes to relate or whatever. When you meet an adoptee, just chill. Be cool. You don’t have to touch on the subject or say anything because when you do, nine times out of ten, you are going to say something you should have never said. With that said, here are 10 things you should never say to an adoptee:

    When you meet an adoptee, just chill. Be cool. You don’t have to touch on the subject or say anything extra, because when you do, nine times out of ten, you are going to say something you should have never said. Also, you don’t have to try to relate and say your mom or dad was never really in the picture or that you grew up feeling like you were adopted. Just relax and listen if we feel like digging deeper into the conversation about being adopted.

    With that said, here are ten things you should never say to an adoptee:

    1. I wish I were adopted; you’re lucky.
    2. You should be grateful to be adopted.
    3. You will get over your feelings in time; it’s just a phase.
    4. You look just like your adoptive parents.
    5. Your birth mother gave you up for adoption out of love.
    6. You are special because you were chosen.
    7. I understand how you feel; I never felt like my parents loved me either.
    8. At least your mom didn’t have an abortion.
    9. At least you have a better life. Your mom could have been poor or on drugs.
    10. Why are you so angry about being adopted? You have a family that chose you and loves you.

    Have you heard any of these before? What comebacks do you have when people say these things to you? For example, when someone tells me how lucky I am to be adopted, the only thing that comes to my mind is how much grief, trauma, and loss I have experienced. Is that really considered lucky? Lucky is winning the lotto or finding a hundred dollar bill at the park. Now that is “lucky.” Or what about when people ask, why are you so angry about being adopted? Unfortunately, most people don’t know that when you are adopted you often lose your identity, your culture, your birth records are closed including your medical history. You receive an amended birth certificate erasing the names of you gave birth to you and possibly more. That should be enough to make anyone angry.

    What have people said to you about being adopted? Post your answers in the comment section.

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    Jessenia Parmer
    Jessenia Parmer
    I'm Jessenia. I am an adult adoptee with 10 years of experience advocating and fostering relationships with adoptees, and over five years of experience teaching adoptive parents how to have a successful and genuine relationship with their adopted child.


    1. Anonymous says:

      On the city data adoption forum, the forum leader "Jaded" informed me that the adoptee is not the chief stakeholder in adoption…. Then I asked if it isn't about the child… you know the adoptee… then who is Adoption about? She deleted my post…..

    2. Audra says:

      These sound all too familiar. One of my favorites… "Oh, you're one of those." Or, after telling someone I was adopted… "So that's why you don't look like anyone in your family." The unfortunate thing is that I don't think they even felt bad after saying those things – it was they felt they should say. Normally, I just move on with the conversation, but if I am told I was chosen, or lucky…those are too hard to just walk away from and not try to explain just a little bit. I have a great adoptive family but I do not consider myself lucky in the sense they mean. I was lucky to be placed with a loving family, but not lucky to be adopted. And chosen…that's my least favorite one. Love your blog, Jessenia!!

      • Hi Audra, that is a good one I missed, "ohhh so that is why you don't look like anyone in your family". That probably was one of the most hurtful phrases I heard. I agree with you, blessed to have great adoptive parents, but definitely not lucky to have been adopted. Thank you so much girl!! I appreciate you from my heart. You know that!

      • Anonymous says:

        Audra no offence but why should you be upset if someone says you are lucky? Since in fact you were lucky. I mean this not to make you angry but in reality adopted kids should feel happy they at least you have a family. Some never get a family. And it is very true that, that is why you do not look like people in your family just that people should not say it to your face.

    3. Pam Lavertu says:

      The one thing my adopted daughter hears most often is.. " You are not really adopted" I finally printed a copy of her adoption certificate and let her have it. She is 15, and was tired of trying to defend herself as an adoptee. She and her sister look so much like us, it is not likely anyone would guess they are adopted.

      • Wow! That is a new one. That is pretty cool that they were able to look alike. Lessens the stress a bit from the crazy things people say. How old was she when you adopted her and told her she was adopted?

      • Do you REALLY think they look alike? The adoptive people that have my daughter have 3 that are adopted and she says people say they all look alike. I am Swedish and they are Italian..my daughter is the only blonde in the family…lol

      • LOL. Rhonda. I got it all the time growing up. I look NOTHING like my adoptive family, and yet some how people would find a way to say I have my mothers nose or my dad's height. I would be laughing deep inside. Silly people. Great hearing from you Rhonda!

    4. As a Birth Mother who just found my child after searching for more than 4 decades, I find this frustrating and annoying because my Child really was adopted and I really could not find her –

    5. Jordan C says:

      I think many people just do not understand what adoptees go through. Some of them, might not get offended… but the majority do. I would get very offended if anybody said number 4 (You look just like your adoptive parents) to me. I look nothing like my adoptive parents.

      Also, if a person told me, "I wish I was adopted; you're lucky." I would be very offended. My blog is about my struggles of being adopted… and trust me, it is not easy when someone likes to say something about a Latino or Hispanic, because I was born in Guatemala. In my area, in the US, there is so much discrimination against Latinos or Hispanics… so it is tough. So if anybody wants to read it, please go on ahead and read about my struggles of being adopted. 🙂

    6. Anonymous says:

      Don't you love it when non-adoptees know better than adoptees about adoption? Von

    7. Anonymous says:

      I think one of the things that has aggravated me as an adoptee is when people say stuff like oh well have you ever thought about finding your "real" parents? My parents are my real parents. Yes I have been fortunate to have had a reunion and have been part of my birth family now for about 20 years but I still hate that comment. Another one is when I was growing up I would hear people say to my mother, oh is that the little girl you adopted? Or relatives saying well your not really a and put my last name in the sentence. People are ignorant and need to learn to shut their mouths. We are people not subhuman. My birth mother did the best she could given her circumstances. My adoptive mother did the best she could given her circumstances. Other than that it's nobody's dang business!!!!

    8. Lioness says:

      I got the "You're lucky to have been moved out of a potentially abusive situation and into a safe adoptive home" line the other day. I had to correct the speaker, my adoptive family was abusive. What was done to me did not benefit me and probably made things worse.

      To give the speaker credit, she seemed genuinely moved by my story.

      • Hey Lioness! You know what, people think that just because we were adopted that we would automatically have a better life. Yea right. There are no guarantees in adoption, and that is something that birth mothers, adoption professional, and outsiders need to realize. Great comment!

    9. People say similar things to the children of divorce. "You'll get over it," "You'll be fine because your parents are happy," "Why are you so mad?" "They aren't rejecting you," "You should be happy because you have TWO homes, TWO bedrooms, etc." "You have so many parents to love you!" bla bla bla

      I realize it's not the same thing as what adoptees experience… but I think it's interesting that in both cases, childrens' needs are set aside in favor of adult desires. The Sexual Revolution has screwed over two generations of children and created a tremendous amount of inequality for them.

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