It is important to talk to your family about adoption because they can become your support system. In order to get their help and support during this exciting and difficult time, they need to fully understand your situation and the steps you want to take. Even though you’re confiding in your family and close friends, it is important to know that this is ultimately your and your partner’s decision. You’ll need to make the decision that you feel is best for both you.
When a couple chooses to adopt, the decision of when and how to break the news is complicated, given that adoption can be a long process filled with uncertainty. Many people seem to have an opinion or some preconceived notions about what it means to adopt and are not afraid to voice those feeling upon hearing a couple’s news. The following are a few things to keep in mind when telling the family and friends about your adoption and some reactions you might receive.
Decide who you want to tell and when to tell them. Once you’ve begun the adoption process, it can last for months or even years. Having the support of family and friends during this exciting and anxiety provoking time can be a comfort. Some prospective adoptive parents choose to tell their closest friends and relatives about their decision early on. Others prefer to wait until the later stages of the process when they are more certain of the outcome. There are ultimately no right or wrong answers about whether or when to tell people. The choice is a personal one that will depend on your circumstances, the details of the adoption, and your relationships with those around you. Phone calls, e-mails, and written letters are great ways of announcing your decision to adopt.
If you are nervous about telling your family because you are unsure how they would react, write them a letter explaining your decision and why you chose to adopt or give them information about the agency. Explain the process and people involved. Teach your family about birthparents and help them see that adoption plans are made out of love. Make it clear that the decision is up to you. Let them know that it was not an easy decision to make and you would really appreciate them supporting you through this.
Once you do break the news, be prepared for a lot of questions. Since many people are still in the dark about the emotional and practical aspects of adoption, they may ask you things that seem rude, “Don’t you want ‘your own’ child?” or “How much are you paying for your baby?” Of course, you’ll also be grilled on “When is the baby coming?” and “Have you gotten the room ready?”
Try not to take these questions personally. Most people are simply curious about the adoption process, and this can be a good opportunity to educate them. Don’t feel like you have to answer questions that are too intrusive, personal or that compromise the privacy of the birthparents or your adoptive child.
Be prepared to set straight adoption myths. While some people may ask questions based on their lack of knowledge about adoption, others may think they have all the answers because of something they’ve read, saw on TV, or heard from a friend. This is a good opportunity to set the record straight about certain issues of adoption.
Give your family members a chance to vent and also to comprehend adoption. They may need to grieve that the family’s bloodline is not being continued or they may worry that an adoption might fail or turn out badly. Family members may also need to confront their own lack of knowledge and prejudices about adoption and it will be up to you to help them. Your IAC counselors are here to answer any questions you have regarding talking to your family about adoption and will support you along the way!
You can invite family to talk with a counselor at IAC, give them adoption material or recommend a few books they can read. Chances are your family and friends will want to fully embrace your decision and your child but they may need some time and information before they can fully do so.