How Should I Respond To People Who Praise Me For Adopting?

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

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Oftentimes, outsiders looking in on the adoption journey can begin to hail you as a 'hero' or an 'angel' for choosing to adopt. It's awkward. But sometimes, it's unending. How then, should you respond?

On a sunny spring morning in April 2002, we walked into church for the first time after bringing our firstborn adopted daughter home from the hospital. We were sleep deprived and clueless about what we were doing, but 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, someone really asked us that!) Are you going to tell her she’s adopted? Why did you decide to adopt a newborn baby? On and on the questions came. Some were appropriate, and others were well-intentioned but wildly inappropriate!

One woman walked up to us and gushed all over us. “Oh my Lord in heaven,” she gleefully blurted out. “You two are just angels for adopting this sweet little girl. Wow—saints, I tell ya! I mean, where would she be if you had not come into the picture 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.

If you feel uncomfortable reading that last paragraph, I can assure you…it was doubly uncomfortable for us. Admittedly, a piece of it felt good. I struggled with not wanting to pat myself on the back. The truth was, we weren’t heroes who swooped down and rescued this tiny baby from certain demise. That’s 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.

Have you ever wondered how to respond to these people in an appropriate way? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Keep your distance. Many people who think you’re a saint for adopting will quickly turn away from you when your child pulls a crazy stunt or melts down in public. These people are disconnected from the reality of your situation, your life, and your family. Thus you need to be cautious as you share your story with them.
  2. Share the calling, not the intention. Redirect those who praise you. You felt called to do this. You’re nobody special. You didn’t adopt to show the world how awesome you are! And you certainly didn’t adopt because you needed to check “superhero” off your list of life goals. You are simply called to this journey.
  3. Ask them politely, out of earshot of others, to stop. These are well-intentioned people—they’re just clueless. (Most of the time, anyway.) It’s okay to pull them aside and ask them to stop saying this about you. Invite them to see a new perspective.
  4. Don’t be afraid of failure. Your example to the surrounding world will show them what is true and right about the foster and adoptive parenting journey. 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 her journey and the moments of deep grief over her traumatic past. You’re a mom or a dad who has chosen to love deeply!

To the best of your ability, live at peace with others, even if they make your face turn red in public at times. Remember, at the end of the day, you don’t owe anyone an explanation. This is your family, and these are your children. Lead them and love them to the best of your ability. Be kind but firm to those who sing your praises. But remember why you chose this journey.

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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.