You’ve decided on adoption for your child and are now faced with the new journey of preparing yourself for it. What you may not be aware of at this point is that your family will also need preparation. Often we make the mistake of assuming our families know our needs and have the tools and the abilities to meet them. But, just like us, they are experiencing emotions and circumstances that prove challenging and will also be struggling to make choices and attempt to deal with this.
Your family may react based on how they assume you are feeling. Here are some tips to use in order to open up communication with your family and to help them feel involved:
- Ask them to go with you to your doctor appointments.
- Invite them to the adoption agency with you, or ask your counselor to set up sessions just for them without you so that they can discuss their issues without feeling afraid of hurting your feelings.
- Give your parents a journal and ask them to record their feelings and thoughts about their grandchild. Explain to them that you’d like to give the journal to your baby’s adoptive parents as a keepsake for when your baby is older.
- Remind your parents that you need them. Buy a card and tell them you’re grateful for them during this time and that you appreciate their love and guidance.
- When you feel upset, depressed, angry, or need to be alone, don’t simply shut them out by locking yourself in your room. Let them know that you’re feeling overwhelmed and need some time alone. The more often they hear what you are feeling, the more secure they will be in how to support you.
- Don’t hold it in. Perhaps you’re sitting down for dinner and all of a sudden you need to cry. Go ahead. But accept their arms of support, and give them the opportunity to soothe you through it. They may say things that don’t seem supportive, things that may trigger you into anger. You may want to say, “You just don’t understand!” But remember, they don’t, so don’t expect them to.
You may initially feel, based on your parents’ reaction to your pregnancy, that they care more about the situation you’ve put them in, than what you are going through yourself. It’s a normal reaction. One of the first things that will come to a parent’s mind in a situation like this is, “Where did I go wrong?”
Just as you went through shock, denial, fear, and worry, so will they. Allow them this. Listen to what they have to say, and give them some time. Your family will better be able to help you if they feel informed, included, and appreciated. They will also be able to help you if they are also getting their needs met. Don’t forget – they are relinquishing their grandchild. A loss like this should not go unnoticed.