Adopting children can be the happiest time of a person’s life. Many people adopt children for a variety of reasons. And as a society, it is our responsibility to respect the decisions of others, even if we don’t necessarily agree with them. And that is precisely why it’s important to understand how you should interact with parents who’ve adopted children. Saying the wrong thing could hurt feelings, ruin relationships, and even alter the children’s outlook on life.

So, what should you do?

Firstly, understand that adoptive families are still families. They go through the same issues that any biological family goes through. Diapers must be changed, lunches must be packed, children must be picked up from school; it’s all the same. But the most important thing to realize about an adoptive family is that the parents love their adopted children as much as they would their biological children. They don’t love them any less. So don’t view these families as unique, or different, or complicated; view them as what they are: a family.

Secondly, you have to understand what to say and how to speak to an adoptive family. Saying the wrong thing, even once, can have disastrous consequences. Don’t ask questions like, “will you have kids of your own?” While it may seem innocuous at first, it’s rather rude to ask. It implies that these children are not considered a part of the family. Adopted children are the adoptive parents’ children; they are their own. Instead, you should consider asking something along the lines of, “will you also consider having biological children?” 

Also, if at all possible, try to avoid asking about money. Unless you are interested in adopting a child of your own, don’t ask how much the child “cost.” They are not purchasing a child; there are fees associated with the adoption. And don’t ask why the biological parent “gave up” their children. Sometimes it isn’t as simple as that. If you are curious, try your hardest to educate yourself beforehand and ask questions appropriately. It might even be worth your time to determine whether or not it is your place to ask a question at all.

Adoptive parents are going through a range of emotions. And your added questions and speculation can simply add fuel to an already burning fire. Don’t add unnecessary stress. Be respectful and give the parents time.