Adoption, Better Understood

Adoption, Better Understood

By: Elizabeth Koth

“Their biological parents didn’t want/love them so they gave them up” for adoption.

“They were taken from their biological parents because their biological parents were bad parents”.

“You are so amazing because you saved that child from so much pain by adopting them”. 

Have you ever been part of a conversation about adoption and heard something similar to the sentiments above?  

Perhaps you’ve had similar thoughts about adoption yourself, though you may not have ever verbalized those thoughts to anyone. 

At Elevate Counseling, we have had the privilege over the years of supporting several individuals from children to adults that have been touched by adoption in some way. As the office manager at Elevate, I can empathize with those individuals as my own family has our own adoption story. My husband and I adopted our third child just before he turned 2 years old. And, I confess, prior to our own adoption journey, I had many thoughts and feelings about adoption that needed some adjusting. 

Misunderstanding #1:

“Their biological parents didn’t want or love them”. 

The truth: While it is easy to jump to this conclusion, it is almost always wrong. Biological parents generally don’t “give their child up” for adoption because they don’t love them or want them. Most of the time, the biological parent wants what is best for their child, even if it means they themselves are not what is best. A biological parent who is giving up their child is choosing to go through a significant loss, whether immediately realized or not. To admit you are not what is best for your child requires a brutal honesty with oneself that most of us cannot fathom. 

Misunderstanding #2:

“They were taken from their biological parents because their biological parents are bad parents”.

The truth: They aren’t bad parents…but they may have their own struggles or personal trauma. It is true that our brokenness can cause us to make less-than-ideal choices or do bad things. While I cannot imagine making the choices our son’s biological parents made, I also cannot imagine the events that took place in their lives that caused them to become so broken. We think of our son’s biological parents often. And while we have no contact with them, we do hope they are okay and on a road of recovery and healing. 

Misunderstanding #3:

“You are so amazing because you saved that child from so much pain by adopting them”. 

The truth: While this statement is partially true in that many adoptive parents are saving their child from life circumstances that would likely be more painful in some way, it is equally true that many adoptive families feel that their adopted child really saved the family in some way. This definitely rings true for me and for our family. Our son has stretched my heart in ways I didn’t realize needed stretching.  His life has taught us to see the world differently in many ways. We did not give our son the gift of life, rather life gave our family the gift of him. 

The list of “awkward” questions asked/thoughts of adoptive families is lengthy.  I’ve touched on a just few here to serve as a reminder to pause before asking questions of an adopted family; especially when it may appear to be more obvious that the child is adopted (ie, the child is of a different race). Try not to assume that you know that family’s story. Because, the truth is, EVERY family has its own story to tell, whether adoption is part of that story or not. 

Jamie Dana

Jamie Dana

Jamie Dana, MC, LPC, helps teens and adults overcome mental roadblocks and achieve their goals to live an elevated life. Specialties include research-based interventions to address stress and anxiety, trauma, self-esteem, eating issues and struggles of the gifted and high-achieving population. For more information about her techniques, services and additional resources to help you succeed, check her out at or follow us on Facebook and Instagram. You can also Contact her to schedule an initial appointment today