Deciding how and when to tell your family members and friends that you are choosing adoption can feel scary and overwhelming from both a birth mother’s perspective as well as that of a prospective adoptive parent’s perspective.
Adoption can be filled with uncertainty and should not be taken lightly. While those in the adoption community are pretty well aware of this, most who have never experienced adoption in their lives may not accept or understand your decision as you might expect.
Many people who are unfamiliar with adoption have preconceived notions about what adoption means. Unfortunately, many of these thoughts, ideas, and opinions are perpetuated by stereotypes and myths.
So, it can be tricky navigating whether or not to share your plans with others in addition to taking time to plan the best way to do so. No matter how your road has brought you to this critical point in your life, taking the time to think this life-changing decision through by understanding the pros and cons of telling people and what to expect upon sharing the news is important.
In recent years, communication has gone viral. Be careful and have good judgment in how you choose to tell people about your adoption choice. Just because, for instance, social media is available, it does not mean you need to use it.
While it can be a wonderful decision, adoption is filled with just as much sorrow as it is joy. Treat your news and all those involved with respect.
For an Adoptive Parent
Oftentimes the road leading up to the decision to grow your family through adoption is not an easy one. There are many reasons why people choose to adopt and while many of these reasons are happy, joyful, and full of promise, some are not. There are many instances where a person’s decision to adopt was born out of years of grief due to infertility and loss.
Before you decide to share your adoption news with other people in your life, make sure that you have done the proper amount of soul searching and research to be able to answer the questions and concerns that are bound to come your way. The questions may come from those who care about you most or from those who are just curious and will want to know more about how and why you’ve come to this decision.
Hey Everyone, We Have Some News
Once you are confident in your choice, you’ll really want to decide whom you want to tell and when. Our first adoption experience was relatively short compared to many, although the years leading up to it were not. My husband and I were sure of our choice and excited; however, it was a topic that we’d only shared with very few members of our circle. Despite the fact that we had a strong and healthy relationship and were super excited about our news, we also understood that it might come as a shock to one or two family members. So, we trod carefully with the understanding that not everyone would be as happy about it as we were.
Because we’d chosen international adoption, you can imagine the additional range of questions that followed. Let’s face it, adoption itself is a major mystery to the majority of folks who have not had personal experience with it. Add in the element of travel to a place known for civil conflict and unrest, and you can imagine one or two jaws may have dropped just a little bit (if I’m being honest).
Wait, You Want to Know What?
Aside from the questions and concern about our well-being (and in some cases our sanity), we were pelted with the usual questions, “Why not go biological?” “How much?” “What if?” and “When?”
Believe it or not, you eventually become pretty savvy at answering or dodging these and many other inappropriate queries, but I’d be a liar if I said that happened overnight. Be prepared for the questions to fly throughout your wait and for years to come. I tried to look at the questions as an opportunity to educate the people in my life as well as some curious strangers on adoption, so there are pluses to being open to answering questions.
In some cases, you may feel like a human version of Snopes—debunking adoption myths daily!
Still, you are no more required to respond than any other parent on the planet, adoptive or otherwise. Remember that you are in control of the amount of privacy that you want to uphold for yourself as well as that of the birth parents and your adopted child.
One way to help you to prepare for and remove yourself from some of this is to have educational materials at the ready, examples include: links to adoption websites like Adoption.com loaded with helpful links to articles and guides, books about adoption, videos, or even support groups and networking for family members and friends on social media platforms like Facebook.
For the most part, you will find that your family and close friends are going to be as excited (and possibly as nervous) as you are and they are going to want to be a part of your adoption journey leading up to and well after placement. Remember that the decision to adopt was yours and not theirs and give them the opportunity to catch up as needed.
For a Birth Parent
Making the decision to make an adoption plan for your baby is difficult and deciding how to make your choice known to others is personal. It’s not uncommon for an expectant parent considering adoption to feel anxious, confused, or conflicted over this choice. Before you decide to make your decision public, you may want to consider whether or not you are ready to accept the reaction you will undoubtedly receive.
Make no mistake, our family and friends who love us typically want the best for us, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t misinterpret, misunderstand, or judge the choices we make throughout our lives.
Adoption is a deeply intimate decision, whether you are in the position to be placing a child for adoption or adopting a child. And while we’d like to think that those closest to us will be the ones there to comfort and support us through one of the toughest decisions a parent could make, that may not be the reality. Just as an adoptive parent should be confident in their decision as well as researched and ready, so too should a birth parent.
Now is the time to seek the support and guidance from professionals as well as others who have walked in your shoes.
You’re Planning to Do What?
Although you were hoping for a hug, instead you are peppered with 21 questions about why you have made the decision to make an adoption plan for your baby. As if it was a decision that you had given no time or thought to. As if the decision was not even yours to make and you unintentionally disregarded or disrespected the wishes of your family and close friends who just cannot understand why you would ever consider giving away your flesh and blood.
There will be others in your life who may be worried about the type of adoption plan that you are considering and maybe fearful for your rights and for the rights of your baby. Are you sure about your choice? Are you sure about the adoptive parents? What if you never see your baby again?
The bottom line is you do not need to explain your decision about or the intention you have for your child’s future to anyone. If you do choose to share, it’s your choice how much or how little you wish to explain regarding what led you to the decision, the decision itself, or the future you anticipate for you and your baby.
Why Would You Give Her Away?
Words matter. Unfortunately, the words often hurled at members of the adoption community are not always appropriate nor have they been thought through before being said aloud.
As hard as is it may be, you may find yourself having to count to ten, take a deep breath, or walk away from certain well-meaning people in your life who are not up on the latest adoption language. Some words are one hundred percent hurtful and whether that was the intent or not, they are going to sting. Be prepared to manage these words, accusations, and misunderstandings and ready to help others to learn about positive adoption language in the process.
Also, be prepared to walk away when needed. It is never okay for anyone to make you feel bad about your decision no matter what.
Don’t Open Yourself to Undue Pressure
You are already struggling with your decision and you can bet that your family may be as well. While your parents or other close relatives may believe they have your best interest at heart, you will need to be firm while understanding others’ feelings f adoption is what you believe is best for yourself and your baby. Parenting a child is a personal choice. It’s a commitment that lasts a lifetime.
At the end of the day, you need to be realistic and honest about what the best decision is for you and your child. No matter how badly your mom wants you to keep a baby, you need to be comfortable with that decision for yourself and not pressured into that decision by someone else.
How Could You Do This?
Not everyone is going to be on board with your choice to allow another family to raise your child. They may even try to make you feel bad by sharing stories of friends who have experienced an unplanned pregnancy and decided to keep the baby. They may share horror stories of foster care or adoption gone bad to deter you from trusting “strangers” to raise your flesh and blood. They will not understand or support your decision to give the gift of being parents to another family.
Again, you will need to feel confident in your decision in order to respond to these negative stereotypes and concerns should they come up.
Managing Your Own Stress While Managing Others
As if you’re not already going through a crisis of your own, you may find yourself overwhelmed trying to balance your own feelings of uncertainty and stress with that of well-meaning family and friends.
It’s absolutely normal to experience worry and doubt when choosing an adoption plan for your baby. That’s why it’s imperative to reach out for professional help and guidance as soon as you consider adoption as a choice. And just as you should never allow yourself to feel pressured into keeping your baby you also should never allow yourself to feel pressured in giving him or her up.
The impact of adoption will be lifelong. And even though you are doing what you feel is in the best interest of the baby, that does not mean that you won’t have feelings of doubt afterward.
What to Expect
As you hope for the best, you will find family and friends will serve as your allies and support system in your decision in most cases. You may be surprised by the outpouring of love that you receive. That does not mean that they or you are not going to go back and forth feeling conflicted leading up to or after the adoption.
The truth is no matter how confident or comfortable you are with your choice, there may always be a part of you who wonders if your baby is safe and well. You may wonder if your baby will be angry with you for your choice. You may wonder if you will regret your choice later in life.
Similarly, you may get pushback from family and friends who are trying to look out for you and/or who may be having similar thoughts and feelings.
Stay in Control
Just like with sharing the news of an impending adoption, you should consider the best avenue to share your decision to make an adoption plan for your baby. Unless you are extremely public with all of your big-life decisions, a blogger, or someone who is used to taking public criticism for your choices, you may not want to blast your choice all over social media. There is nothing wrong or shameful with keeping your news close to home among those whom you most trust who will be there to support you during what may be one of the most difficult times of your life.
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