With all the obstacles to push through, hurdle over, and speed past in our adoption journeys, it can be hard to take when extended family members create even more adoption obstacles. It’s a lot like navigating a marathon only to sit on a tack after crossing the finish line. Completely unexpected. You made it through the aches and pains of the marathon and survived the hurt and discomfort. Then when you sit on the tack the unexpected sharpness throws you through the roof. You scream in protest and it makes the entire experience almost unbearable.
So it is when people you truly care about make negative statements about your choice to adopt, criticize your child, or are ignorant about the whole adoption experience. To help alleviate that, it’s a good idea to have sit-down discussions with extended family members, or group emails that inform, explain and invite.
Many times, family members who are against adoption are simply ignorant about it. Often the older generation is afraid of the unknown. What if the child has diseases? What if the child’s different background makes her feel like she’s not part of the family? What if having an open adoption creates havoc at family reunions and gatherings? The list is endless. So consider anticipating questions such as these and then asking family members to ask all the questions they can think of. Answer those questions without emotion, just with information. If you don’t know the answer, Google it.
Sometimes the resistance from family members is a result of not understanding where your desire to adopt comes from, and just how deep the desire runs. Take time to explain, with your full heart, your circumstances. This is the time for emotion to take the lead. Why did you choose adoption? What are your hopes and dreams for your family? Is it hard to articulate those feelings? Try anyway. Tears aren’t a bad thing when it comes to sharing the feelings of your heart—sometimes tears speak when words aren’t enough.
Ask your family members to be participants in the adoption process. Maybe request a baby shower and let them know what you need. Ask for letters from your extended family members to put them in the child’s memory book. Invite them to the courthouse. Involve your family in the planning and in the preparation. There are lots of ways to involve your extended family. When they feel they’re part of this joyful process, chances are all resistance will melt away.