Adoption can feel like a lonely road. For many couples pursuing this path, they don’t have a lot of people around them who know what it feels like to be an adoptive parent. Even if they have a loving support network, the feelings that come with adoption can only be understood by someone who has been there. During this stressful time, it is difficult to feel like no one really gets the ups and downs that come with it.
When my husband and I began our adoption pursuit, we didn’t have much support from people who had been there. I spent hours online, researching agencies, foster care, international adoption, adoption laws, adoption attorneys, adoption grants and loans. I pored over articles and blogs that talked about supporting expectant mothers considering adoption, loving your child’s birth mother, open vs. closed adoption and transracial adoption. I educated myself on all of these things with very little input from anyone who had adopted before. It was difficult.
I knew I needed to “talk” about our experience, and so, for my own benefit, I blogged about things. Writing helped me process all of the emotions we were experiencing; the excitement every time our profile was being shown, the disappointment every time we were not chosen, the stress over finding enough money to cover the adoption expenses, the joy over being matched, the sorrow when the match failed and eventually the beautiful, heartbreaking experience of loving our son’s birth mother and simultaneously being thrilled to bring him home, while feeling devastated for her loss. There are just so many conflicting emotions- some of which are seemingly unexpected, and many times I wondered if what I was feeling was normal.
It wasn’t until two years after we brought our son home that I was put in contact with a few adoption support groups. One was online, through Facebook, and the other was a local group that met monthly. Suddenly, I found the freedom to be able to discuss my experiences and feelings with people who had been there. I realized my emotions were not uncommon and that many other adoptive mothers had gone through the same things. I wished I had been part of those groups during our phase of hoping to adopt, because they offered so much support, advice and knowledge. The collective knowledge and the relationships I have made would have been invaluable to me during that time.
Recently, I have had opportunities to speak with women who are looking for information about adoption. After talking about the basics of adoption, I always refer them to the support groups. I explain that these groups have helped me learn from all perspectives; adoptive parents, birth parents and adult adoptees. I feel as if adoption support groups have given me a well-rounded education on adoption terminology, and etiquette, as well as dispelling common adoption myths so many outsiders believe to be true.
No matter where you are in your adoption, whether you are just starting to look into things or if you have already adopted a child, joining a support group can be a wonderful resource. We can all learn from one another’s experiences, and as a mother who has completed the adoption process, I feel the need to help others who are just beginning.
Support groups can be found in many places. Facebook has a myriad of them. It may take some trial and error to find the one that meets your needs, but join a few and feel them out. Check with your adoption provider to see if they offer support groups. If they don’t, you could take the lead and start one. I’m sure many hopeful adoptive parents would love to get together and share their stories. It doesn’t have to be anything formal, but everyone can benefit from gathering together and being there for one another.
So, if you are wondering, “Should I join an adoption support group?” My answer is a resounding YES! You need support from those who understand. It is absolutely worth it.