“Real Mom”

For both the birth mother and adoptive mother, the often offensive, “real mom” statement will come up. For most, we have found the words themselves don’t matter as much as the intent behind them. Most comments, we must understand, result from not being properly educated about adoption. Yet, when people we don’t know use the word “real” in regards to adoptive families it strikes a nerve in us.

The “real” in all this is how to handle the questions and so we provide this list:

Smart Responses to Stupid Adoption Comments

Things to Consider Before Responding to Insensitive Comments

  1. Do I have an ongoing relationship with the individual?
  2. Are their insensitive thoughts/comments on adoption likely to be a reoccurring problem?
  3. Are they asking private information that I’m comfortable sharing?
  4. Is this the location I want to talk about this? Should I make plans to talk later?
  5. Does the person have a legitimate concern or question?
  6. Is the person just curious or noisy?
  7. Is the person trying to say something that is valuable but is using adoption language that is insensitive or outdated?
  8. If the comment is made in front of a parent & child, should the parent or the child respond?
  9. Is the person’s brain just momentarily disconnected from their mouth?

Generic Responses:

  1. Educate the person on adoption issues while maintaining your privacy.
    1. Children don’t cost anything. Costs are for legal and agency services.
  2. Use humor.
    1. Didn’t anyone ever explain to you where children come from?
  3. Privacy responses:
    1. That’s private.
    2. That’s a very personal question that I do not want to answer.
    3. I can’t believe you’re asking a personal question like that.
    4. Excuse me, but I don’t know one reason I need to answer your question.
    5. Information on birthparents is our personal information.
  4. Deflection responses:
    1. Ignore the person or comment
    2. You’re confused about that
    3. How surprising that you would ask that
    4. Children are priceless
  5. Why do you want (need) to know?
  6. That’s unkind. It is not ok to talk to someone that way.

For Children



  1. Where are your real parents? Do you know your real parents?
  2. Why didn’t your real parents keep you? Why did they give you away?
    Why didn’t your real mom want you?
  3. Is he (or she) your real brother (sister)?
  4. Where are you from?
  5. You don’t look like your parents?
  6. Why don’t you look like your parents?
  7. Where did you get that hair?
  8. For kids living with 1 parent

    Where is your father (mother)?

  9. Do you see your birthparents?

    Do you want to meet your real parents?

  1. I live with my real parents.
    My mom & dad are my real parents.
    Why would I call him “Dad” if he wasn’t my dad?
  2. My birthparents couldn’t raise any child- if all children in family were placed Birthparents aren’t always able to provide and raise their child.

    She didn’t give me away, she gave me parents.
    Actually I was always wanted. My parents wanted me before I was born.

  3. Yes, can’t you tell?
  4. Albany (or the town you live in).

    Didn’t anyone tell you where babies come from?

    Are you asking where I was born or where I live now?

  5. You’re real observant!

    I look like other members of my family.

    We may not look alike but we are alike in other ways.

  6. Why do you need to know that?
  7. It is a gift from God.
  8. My family is me, my mother (or father), brother & sisters.
  9. I know you’re curious but I don’t want to talk about my birthparents right now.

For Adults



  1. Now that you’ve adopted your probably get pregnant and have a child of your own.
  2. How much did he (she) cost?
  3. I hear adoption is extremely expensive.
  4. What a shame you can’t have kids of your own.
  5. Your kids look so different, which one is yours?

    Are they brother & sister?

  6. What do you know about his (her) parents?
  7. Aren’t you worried that the birth parents will want their child back?
  8. Where is your child from?
  9. What is she (he) mixed with?
  10. Do you love him (her) like your own?
  11. Don’tmostadopteeshaveemotionalproblems?
  12. Why would you want to keep in touch with their birthparents?
  13. Howcouldanyonegiveupsuchabeautiful child?
  14. Why couldn’t she take care of him?
  15. You’resospecialforadopting.
  16. Your son (daughter) doesn’t look like you!
  1. I have a child of my own.
    It is a myth that many woman get pregnant after adopting.
  2. Children don’t cost anything. Adoption costs are for services only.
  3. After adoption tax credit &, employee benefits adoption is usually no more

    expensive than giving birth to a child

  4. (Child’s Name) is my own child.
  5. They’re my kids.

    They’re brother & sister.

  6. I’m his (her) parents. Is there something you need to know about me?

    If you’re asking about his or her birthparents we have information we can share with our child. My child will choose to share that information as they see fit.

  7. No, we’re their parents by law. It is a myth that birthparents frequently come back to reclaim their child.
  8. Respond with ethnic history of everyone in the family –adults & children. Didn’t anyone tell you where babies come from?
  9. She (he) is part child, part angel.
  10. Of course, I don’t know why you would think anything different he (she) is

    my own child.

  11. No, research has shown that adoptees are just as well adjusted as their

    non-adopted peers.

  12. Therearemanygreatreasonstokeepintouchwiththem.
  13. They didn’t give them up. By choosing adoption, they made the unselfish decision to put their child’s future first.
  14. She couldn’t take care of any child.
  15. I think families formed by adoption and birth are equally special.
  16. He (she) looks like other members of the family.

We feel that all adopted children have two “real” mothers. One nurtured the child for their first months in utero and the other has nurtured them since. Both “really” have held or are holding an important role and should be rightly insulted by strangers who imply one of the mothers is fake. Without their real birth mother and their real adoptive mother these children would not be who they are today.