What Not to Say to Parents of Adopted Children

iVoice Sharon Rowley, a proud mom of six, on the "intrusive" and "uncomfortable" questions she gets asked about her adoptive children.

There are times when I am "out and about" with my crew of six kids (three of whom are biological and three of whom are adopted), that I receive some pretty crazy comments and questions. When I first arrived home from China with my youngest daughter, I tried my best to answer questions posed by well-meaning strangers. Back then my daughter was too young to understand what we were talking about, and I was so head-over-heels in love that I didn't mind explaining myself.

Flash-forward a few years, and a few more kids later, and I am still head-over-heels in love, but not as patient as I used to be with strangers’ intrusive and sometimes uncomfortable questions. Here are a few examples of some of the "gems" that I sometimes hear…

"I hope that your children know how LUCKY they are!"

I know that you mean well, but if you really stop to think about it -- were my kids lucky that they were unable to be raised by their birth families? Were they lucky that they spent time living in an orphanage? Were they lucky when they were pulled away from everything they knew and taken out of their own birth country to be raised in a culture that was not their own?

Whether or not my children feel "lucky" about all of these things, is for them to decide and not for someone else to lecture them in a tone that underscores how appreciative they "ought to be."

"Oh, God bless you! You are just a saint!"

I did not add to our family through adoption in order to achieve sainthood or to have people praise me. I did it pretty much for the same selfish reason that everyone does when they choose to have children: Because I wanted to do it and I wanted to be a mom. And trust me, if you heard me yelling at all of them this morning that we were going to be late for the bus if they didn’t get moving RIGHT NOW!, well, you would be taking my picture down from that pedestal and chucking it out your back door.

A few weeks ago I got together with some of my mom-friends who are also adoptive parents, and we talked about these things that we wish people wouldn’t say in front of our kids.

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When we were in the process of adopting our first child, and were sharing this news with our friends, someone asked me if I could ever love my adopted child as much "as my own." That question dumbfounded me, as I couldn’t believe that anyone could actually make such a distinction. But, in case you are wondering the same thing,  here is what I have to say:

Love does not come from blood, love grows in your heart. My husband and I are not related by blood, and I have never loved anyone more. I very honestly don’t see how carrying a baby in my womb and going through childbirth has anything whatsoever to do with my love for all six of my children -- not a drop.

And while I am on this topic, I really can’t stand it when people refer to my biological children as "my own" and my adopted children as “adopted."  For goodness sake, I got them all ready this morning, fed them breakfast, made their lunches, helped them brush their teeth and comb their hair. I will help them with their homework when they get home, feed them all dinner, read to (and with) them at bedtime, and lavish them with hugs and kiss before they go to sleep. I may not have given birth to all of them, but I am the Mom who is helping them to grow up - and I know EXACTLY who the lucky one is in this relationship.

Sharon Rowley is an iVoice on iVillage from Bedford Corners, NY. She and her husband Steve have six children ages 11, 9, 8, 7, 6 and 6. Sharon blogs daily about running an organized household over at Momof6.com.  Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sharonmomof6.

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