Adoption can be a difficult decision to pursue – but it can be even harder to explain it to your loved ones. This is true whether you’re a birth mother considering placing your child for adoption or a family desiring to create your family through adoption. Talking to your family and friends can be stressful; however, if you approach it the right way, it can also give you much-needed support.
For Birth Parents
If you’re considering placing your child for adoption, you are probably experiencing some stress. The prospect of explaining your decision to friends and family can make it even harder. If you aren’t sure how to talk to your loved ones about your choice, there are a few steps you can take first.
Decide Who You Need (or Want) to Tell
The first thing to remember about telling others your adoption plan is you don’t have to tell everyone! Remember that every conversation will likely be somewhat difficult. Some people will be very supportive of your plan and others may not be. Therefore, it is important to take some time to determine who should know about it.
If you limit your discussions to people who know you’re pregnant, you’ll save yourself a great deal of stress. You can also always wait to tell people whose reactions you’re not sure about until after the adoption is finalized.
If you’re planning on giving your child the gift of a family through adoption, you need to be prepared for an emotional conversation. Some family members might support your choice, but others might be confused, angry, or hurt by your choice. It’s important for you to remember that, ultimately, placing your child for adoption is your decision. If you feel that adoption is the best way for your child to have a safe and loving family life, you shouldn’t be afraid to express that decision.
Set Your Expectations
Even though adoption placement is your choice, your family members and friends might not understand that choice right away. Time is your friend here. Don’t pressure your family to support you – simply present your reasoning and your feelings and allow them to come to terms with it. You can’t force someone to change their mind, but you can give them the time and space they need to do it themselves.
Don’t Be Afraid of Professional Help
If you think your family won’t support your choice or you want another perspective, don’t be afraid to seek out an adoption or family counselor. Support from someone, even when that person isn’t a family member or close friend, can still make the adoption journey easier. Professionals will also be able to point you toward specific resources and services that can help you along your adoption journey.
For Adoptive Parents
Making the decision to create your family through adoption is, in many ways, just as difficult as the choice to place your child for adoption. Adopting a child means letting another person and another family into your world. Often the choice to adopt is brought to us through hardship – the inability to have our own children or the support of a child or family in need. However, that doesn’t make explaining your choice any easier. Here are a few strategies you can use to make your own discussion go smoothly.
Decide Who You Need to Tell Ahead of Time
If you’re seeking to adopt a child, you have a difficult choice to make. Should you keep your desire private (so you can manage people’s expectations more easily) or should you tell everyone (so you have a wider support network)? Remember that the adoption process can take a long time. Waits of one or more years aren’t uncommon, and adoptions can – and do – fail.
If you decide to tell your friends and family members you are trying to adopt, make sure you manage their expectations. Let them know the process is a slow and challenging one. Help them understand what you’re looking for in an adoption and why. Remember, too, that you don’t need to tell everyone you know. If you think someone might not understand your choice, you’re under no obligation to tell them about your plan.
Be Ready for Questions
Most people don’t know much about the adoption process. The popular understanding of adoption is tainted by depictions of crowded orphanages in movies and TV shows and the actions of philanthropic celebrities. The average person knows very little about how adoptions actually work – so be prepared to answer lots of questions and correct lots of misconceptions.
Additionally, be ready for at least some measure of confusion or insensitivity. Many adoptive parents have heard comments like, “I could never raise someone else’s baby,” or “Do you think he’ll try to find his real family some day?” Try not to take these comments personally. Instead, think of them as an opportunity to educate people on the way adoption works and how a wonderfully and lovingly a family can be created by adoption as well as by birth.
Give People Time
If someone has a negative reaction to your plans, don’t write them off or get angry. Give them time to come to terms with your choice. Your parents might not understand why you’d want to adopt instead of “trying a little harder” for a biological child – but they’ll almost certainly come around when they meet their new family member.
Find and Use Outside Resources
Sometimes the best help during an adoption isn’t a person – it’s a book, website, or article. There are thousands of different resources an adoptive family can use to educate their friends and family about their choice. You can even point people toward books or websites and have them find their own answers. Some adoptive families also attend counseling or support groups to have their questions answered. The choice is up to you for what works best.
If you have questions about adoption or you want support and guidance through the process, call us today at Deaconess Pregnancy and Adoption. We can guide you through every step of the adoption journey and answer all your questions and concerns along the way. Call (405) 949-4200 or visit us on Facebook to get in touch and learn more.