“You’re adopted” is a common schoolyard insult. Once examined, this retort might seem a little confusing. After all, adoption is a long, stressful, and expensive process, a testament to how wanted and love that child is. However, the subtext is extremely hurtful, especially when it’s weaponized between siblings. “You’re adopted” sounds like “you’re different, and you don’t belong.” And that’s painful to hear, especially since many foster and adopted children struggle with belonging and feeling wanted. Despite what a powerful act of love adopting is, it’s lined with negative connotations.  Movie star Sandra Bullock, 53, knows about this painful subtext. So she asked people to stop saying “adopted child.”
Sandra Bullock is known for her famous film roles, but she’s also a mom of two children, 8-year-old Louis and 6-year-old Laila. And she’s sick of people referring to them as “her adopted children.” After all, it doesn’t matter if the kids are non-biological; they are still hers.
“No one calls their kid their ‘IVF child’ or their ‘oh, s***, I went to a bar and got knocked-up child,‘” she said in an interview with InStyle in 2018. “Let just say, ‘our children.’” 
“Stop Saying Adopted Child”
She had adopted Louis when he was a baby in 2010. Bullock had fostered three-and-a-half-year-old Laila before adopting her. “Lou is super sensitive,” she gushed. “I call him my 78-year-old son… He’s wise and kind. I saw that when they handed him to me.
“And Laila is just unafraid. She’s a fighter, and that’s the reason she’s here today. She fought to keep her spirit intact. Oh my god, what she is going to accomplish. She’s going to bring some real change.”
After she adopted Laila, the paparazzi learned about the child, so Bullock did a photoshoot to publicly announce the newest addition to her family and stop the harassment.
“When you adopt a child, there’s a placement period, and if something goes sideways, they have the right to take the child away. It’s a tenuous, strenuous six months,” she explains. “We had an allergy scare that sent us to the ER and we were followed by the paparazzi, so the word was out that I had another child. And everyone wanted photos.”
The experience was extremely trying on both of the children. “It was heartbreaking. Louis would hear a helicopter or drone, and he’d run to get his sister and drag her across the lawn and hide her under the trampoline. So poor Laila had PTSD. But it took the bounty off once we did those official photos. Everything’s a learning experience.”
When asked if the foster kids’ situation was getting better, the actress became emotional. “Not quickly enough. Look: I’m all for Republican, Democrat, whatever, but don’t talk to me about what I can or can’t do with my body until you’ve taken care of every child who doesn’t have a home or is neglected or abused. It makes me teary-eyed.” 
Myths About Adoption
It’s time to stop the supposed insult of telling a child, “you’re adopted.” It is enmeshed with ignorance about how the adoption process actually works. Many myths and stereotypes surrounding adoption paint an ugly picture that is far from the truth. For example, some people dislike the idea of adopting because they believe the birth parents could come and take the child back at any time. This isn’t true. By law, the child is recognized as part of the adoptive family. Also, if a child is in contact with their birth parents (as in the case of an open adoption), this doesn’t confuse them. Instead, they could recognize that while their biological parents gave them life, their forever family gives them a home, care, and love.
The worst myth of all is that parents can’t love an adopted child as much as a biological child. That’s where the persistent label of “adopted child” needs to stop. Because love is not caused or guaranteed by biology. The process of bonding and becoming deeply attached occurs no matter how the child joined the family. Just because the journey to parenthood is different doesn’t make it any less valid. 
The Truth About Adoption
About 2.1 million kids in the U.S. were adopted into their families. They all carry their own stories, tears, and triumphs, but they all share one important fact: No matter how they came into their family, their adoptive parents are their real parents.
Unlike the dramatic “you’re adopted” reveal in the media, many families are upfront about their child’s adoption story. This helps build trust between them, as well as giving the child the opportunity to ask questions and talk about their feelings. 
All families are unique, but there’s no need to keep up labels for every distinction. So let’s stop persisting with “adopted child” because family is family no matter how they came together.
- “When ‘You’re Adopted’ Is Used as an Insult.” The Atlantic. Ashley Fetters. July 25, 2019
- “Sandra Bullock Makes Emotional Plea to Ban the Phrase ‘Adopted Children’: ‘Say “Our Children“.” People. Stephanie Petit. May 2, 2018
- “Stigmas About Adoption Remain, and Hurt Families.”Psychology Today. Abbie Goldberg, Ph.D. May 21, 2021
- “Let’s Talk About Adoption.”Healthy Children. September 18, 2020