Adoption Support for Birth Grandparents

Birth grandparents may feel marginalized during the adoption process, but this is not necessary.

Jennifer Mellon March 23, 2016
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Adoption can be an emotional and challenging time for all involved. Thankfully, numerous resources are available for expectant parents going through this journey. Often, however, birth grandparents can experience strong emotions throughout the experience, yet feel marginalized or displaced in the process. Birth grandparents may feel emotionally pulled between wanting to support their child’s adoption decision and also experiencing strong feelings about the choices their child is facing. However, birth grandparents can be specifically supported through the adoption journey in a number of ways. These include:

1. Counseling Many counselors specialize in, and are well-educated about, the joys and perils of the adoption journey. Being a birth grandparent, you may feel you do not have a safe space to share all of the emotions you are processing as you support your child in their decision. Finding a counselor you trust and respect can help you work through the grief you may feel so that you can be fully available to give unconditional support to your child.

2. Getting to know the adoptive family.  Through the open adoption process, your child is going to need as much support as you can offer. Make yourself available to them to attend any and all visits with the adoptive family. By getting to know the adoptive family, you can gain peace in knowing the family in which your birth grandchild will be raised and building a relationship that will allow you to continue to stay in touch and be in your birth grandchild’s life as much as you all decide.

3. Joining a support group.  There are wonderful resources in addition to counseling for the birth grandparents to gain adoption support.  Adoption.com’s Community Forums are a wonderful and easy way to connect with others who have gone through similar experiences. You can also be a beacon of support and hope for those going through this journey by starting your own support group online or in your hometown.  You are not alone in this experience, and having the support of others will make a world of a difference in processing your emotions.

4. Search/reunion.  Many times, particularly with adoptions completed decades ago, the birth grandparents may have had a birth grandchild placed with a closed adoption plan. The desire to reunite, or at least know about the well-being of a birth grandchild, can leave a void. The desire for information or a reunion is a very real feeling for many of these birth grandparents. A wonderful resource for the search and reunion process is Adoption.com’s Registry. You can also use a private investigator to help in the search process.  Although a reunion may not be on the forefront of your mind, gaining any information on the child can bring peace to you in the process. There are many emotions to being a birth grandparent – joy, sadness, helplessness, fear, grief and anger. Recognizing those feelings and learning to process all of the emotions will allow you to accept the adoption while supporting your child’s decision and your own well-being.

Finding the support you need is critical during this time. In what other ways did you find support as a birth grandparent?

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Jennifer Mellon

Jennifer Mellon has worked in the child welfare field for more than a decade, serving in varying capacities as the Executive Director and Chief Development Officer of Joint Council on International Children's Services (JCICS) and the Corporate Communications Program Manager for the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI). Jennifer has served on the Board of the Campagna Center, which provides critical educational services to children and families in the DC Metro Area and on the Development Committee for the National Council for Adoption. She is the mom of three children and resides in Alexandria, Virginia.


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