How Do You Respond To People Who Praise You For Adopting?

Author of 5 books, podcaster, parent trainer, husband and father.

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We are living in a world that, for the most part, drastically misunderstands the 'why' behind adoption. This can often bring on unwanted praise and adoration from outsiders. How do you handle this when the point of adoption is not to receive accolades?

On a sunny spring morning in April, 2002 we walked into church for the first time after bringing our firstborn daughter home from the hospital. Through sleep depravation and absolutely no clue what we were doing, we held our baby girl close as we opened the door and stepped into the foyer. You would have thought the Pope had come to town. They almost had to start the church service late because everyone had gathered around us to get a glimpse of this precious gift we held in our arms. I stood behind Kristin and she cradled our sweet girl close to her chest.

People asked us a ton of questions. Where did you adopt her from? Do you have a relationship with her birth mom? Did her birth mom do something wrong? (yes, actual question!). Are you going to tell her she’s adopted? Why did you decide to adopt a newborn baby? On and on they questioned. Some appropriate, some well-intentioned…but wildly inappropriate!

One woman, in particular, walked up to us and just gushed over us. “Oh my Lord in Heaven,” she gleefully blurted out. “You two are just angels…ANGELS I TELL YOU…for adopting this sweet little girl. Wow! I mean, where would she be if you had not come in and rescued her?” This went on and on for weeks. Every time we saw her she hailed us as the greatest heroes in the world! At church, at the grocery store, in the park, even as Kristin was walking into a doctor’s appointment. She just appeared out of nowhere….everywhere!

It was uncomfortable to try to respond. She was so insistent in her praise that I struggled with not wanting to pat myself on the back. Who wouldn’t? You want people to gush over you every now and then, don’t you? But the truth was, we weren’t heroes. And we weren’t some superhero who swooped down and rescued this tiny baby from certain demise. Just not true.  And it wasn’t even what we were called to do as adoptive parents. We were called to love and lead this child to the best of our ability.

The truth is, you will encounter people who praise you for adopting. They will hail you as heroes. They will call you saints. They will gush all over you. And you will feel embarrassed. It happens because most of the world just doesn’t understand why we do what we do. But have you ever wondered how to respond to these people in an appropriate way? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Keep Your Distance. I want to say this right out of the gate because I think it’s an important piece of advice to give you. With many people who think you’re a saint for adopting, they will often be the first people who turn away from you when your child pulls some crazy stunt, melts down in public, or just generally behaves like a child. These well-intentioned people may be informed on adoption, but really have no working knowledge of the journey itself. At the end of the day, they are separated from reality by a wall of glass. The people who hail us are disconnected from the reality of our situation, our life, and our family. Thus, you need to keep your distance from them and not overshare information, or invite them too deep into your journey.
  2. Share The Calling, Not The Intention. Bring up the subject with them…that you felt called to do this. You are just a parent, not a hero. Your child is just a child, not a project. You are called to this journey, plain and simple.
  3. Ask Them Politely, Out Of Earshot Of Others, To Stop.  It’s okay to pull them aside and ask them to stop saying this about you. Let them know that you don’t see yourself as a saint, or a hero. You just see yourself as a human being who decided to use your resources and your heart to care for a child who needed a forever family. Some people are just not clued in to the things they say and do. They need enlightenment just like you and I have needed enlightenment in our lives over certain things.
  4. Love and Lead Your Children Wholly And Don’t Be Afraid Of Failure.  When you fail, pick yourself up and keep moving. As they say in Meet The Robinsons, “Keep moving forward!” Love your child through the hardship of their journey. Keep your attention focused on what is best for them. This will show the world you’re not a hero. You’re a mom or a dad, who has chosen to love deeply!

You are doing this because your heart beats for vulnerable children. That should always be your focus, and it is something you can kindly explain to those around you who constantly sing your praises!

Have you been the subject of praise from others? How did you handle it?

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Mike and Kristin Berry are the Co-Founders of The Honestly Adoption Company and have been parents for nearly two decades. They are the authors of six books, and the host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is the executive assistant to Mike and Kristin Berry. And she is the best in the land. In addition to providing a warm and friendly response to the many emails our company receives on a weekly basis, she also manages Mike and Kristin’s speaking and meeting schedules, and makes sure that team events go off without a hitch.

Nicole Goerges

Nicole Goerges is a Content Contributor & Special Consultant for The Honestly Adoption Company. She works with Mike and Kristin as a recurring co-host for the Honestly Adoption Podcast, and co-host of Kitchen Table Talks, exclusive video content for Oasis Community, along with Kristin. She is a fellow adoptive mom, and former foster parent.

Matt McCarrick

Matt McCarrick is the Content Production Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. If you’ve loved listening to our podcast, or enjoyed any of the videos trainings we’ve published, you have Matt to thank. He oversees all of our content production, from video edits, to making sure the tags are correct on YouTube, to uploading new videos to Oasis, to hitting publish on a podcast episode, he’s a content wonder!

Karen Anderson

Karen Anderson is the Community Engagement Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends the bulk of her time interacting with, and helping, people through our various social media channels, as well as providing support for Oasis Community members through chat support or Zoom calls. In the same spirit as Beaver, Karen is also passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and supported. Karen is also an FASD trainer and travels often, equipping and encouraging parents.

Beaver Trumble

Beaver Trumble is the Customer Care Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. Chances are, if you have been in need of technical support, or forgotten your password to one of our courses, you have interacted with Beaver. He is an absolute pro at customer care. In fact, he single-handedly revolutionized our customer care department last year. Beaver is passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and encouraged.

Kristin Berry

Kristin Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Content Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends most of her time researching and connecting with guests for our podcast, as well as direction, designing and publishing a lot of the content for our social media channels, blog and podcast. She loves to connect with fellow parents around the world, and share the message of hope with them.

Mike Berry

Mike Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Marketing Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. He spends the bulk of his time and energy designing and building many of the resources you see within our company, as well as social media and email campaigns. His goal is to use media as a means to encourage and equip parents around the world. He is also the co-host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.