Quite often, families built via adoption can feel like they have trouble relating to parents who have solely biological children. The nuances of open adoption relationships, the stress of the adoption process, and the added layer of effort and knowledge required in parenting a child who joined your family through adoption can be foreign to them. In any situation, humans want to be around people they feel they have something in common with; it’s just our nature. By finding other adoptive families and forging relationships with them, you can gain a great deal of support for yourself as well as benefits for your children.
One of the best ways to “find” other adoptive families is online. On Facebook especially, there are many adoption-related groups. Some focus on the country of origin of the child, some focus on where the family is located geographically, some focus on families who all adopted through the same adoption agency. A general search on Facebook for “adoptive families” can lead you to a great deal of groups that will be full of people who can relate to you on a deep level. Adding more specifics such as searching “adoptive family” or “adoption” and your city, state, or region can yield groups of people who may be just up the road from you. Most larger metropolitan areas have area-centric Facebook groups. If you live in a small town, try searching for whatever larger town or city is nearest you if you want to connect to people who are somewhat local. Often, these groups will have in-person meetups where you can connect with other adoptive parents and, just as importantly, your child can connect with other adoptees. If a child knows no other adoptees, he or she can feel isolated. Meeting other adoptees at any age can be helpful for your child’s sense of identity and self-esteem.
The other way to connect with other adoptive families is in person, out in the world. Granted, it is often hard to tell if a family has a connection to adoption. If you are a transracial adoptive parent like myself, you basically spend your public life walking around with an invisible sign around your neck that says “talk to me about adoption.” Sometimes that communication is unwanted (so many Nosy Nellies in the grocery store!), but often it can lead to someone sharing a personal connection to adoption with you. I once had a woman come up to me at a playground and ask if my daughter had been adopted. I said yes, and she then shared with me that her daughter, who was currently playing with mine, had also been adopted. In further conversation, we found out we also attended the same high school. Boom! Instant connection! I found her on Facebook later that day and basically informed her that I was forcing her to be my friend. Even if you’re not as gregarious as I am, don’t be afraid to strike up a casual convo with that other mom at a soccer game, or during “meet the teacher” night, or really anywhere. You never know who might also be an adoptive parent looking for a connection. If nothing else, you can serve as an advocate and ambassador to help educate others about how modern adoption works. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. The rewards for you, and your child, are worth a few minutes of awkward conversation.