Building an adoption team is tough. How do you know who to — and who not to — include in this support system?
Every person’s adoption journey is unique. This means their team of support will be, too. Some adoptive parents and prospective birth parents have lots of people to lean on during this time, while others will prefer a smaller, more intimate adoption team. The ultimate decision will be up to you.
Who will be the best people to include in your adoption support team?
If you’re struggling to get started, here are a few important people you should include on your team during this life-changing process.
1. The Expert
Adoption is complicated — no matter which side of the triad you’re on or which adoption path you’re taking. Whether you’re new to the journey or not, you’ll need an expert’s support.
In most cases, your expert will be your adoption professional. They will be there to answer your questions, guide you through the steps ahead and support you from start to finish. Finding the right professional is the key to a successful journey, so don’t be afraid to take your time and advocate for what is best for you.
You don’t have to limit yourself to one expert, though. You might also include a counselor, a home study professional or a parenting teacher at different stages in your journey.
2. The Shoulder to Cry On
Adoption is also hard, full of emotional ups and downs. Prospective birth parents and waiting adoptive parents will inevitably experience tough moments along the way. So, it’s important to have someone to turn to.
This may be a best friend or family member who can provide empathy and support — without any judgement. While it’s great to have suggestions and advice from people during this journey, sometimes, you’ll just need a team member to vent to. Choose this person wisely; make sure they will provide the support you need without making you feel worse. Be clear about what you need from them before you even start the journey to make sure they’ll be there when you need them.
3. The One Who’s Been Through It All
There will be times when you feel like no one understands what you’re going through. Fortunately, the adoption community is large — and, with a little bit of effort, you can easily connect to other birth and adoptive parents.
Consider joining in-person and online support groups. There, you can ask questions and discuss your concerns with people who have been in your shoes. While other people in your life can support you, the advice you get from adoption veterans will be invaluable.
4. The Distraction
Adoption can seem all-consuming. Sometimes, you’ll just want a break. So, don’t forget to include someone in your support team who can help you forget about the process — just for a little bit.
This could be a younger sibling or best friend who will take you out to the movies and dinner. This person could help you maintain your everyday routine, like a workout buddy! Talking about adoption all the time can be exhausting; giving yourself a mental break can be great self-care during a difficult time.
Don’t be afraid to make your thoughts known, too. If you don’t want to talk about adoption, just tell your friends and family. They’ll understand.
5. The Reinforcements
Adoption requires a lot of you, and you may need some help along the way.
If you’re a hopeful adoptive parent, this could mean people who are willing to pet-sit and house-sit when you suddenly receive an adoption opportunity. It could be people who drop off pre-cooked meals or baby supplies after you come home with a new addition.
You’ll need reinforcements as a prospective birth parent, too. You may need someone to watch your older children while you attend doctor’s appointments and deliver the baby, or you might need someone to make you dinner on the nights when you’re exhausted from pregnancy.
Remember, don’t ever be afraid to ask for help. You might be surprised at the kind of response you get!
6. The Doctor
When there’s a child involved, you always want to have a doctor on your side. Prospective birth mothers will need to work with an obstetrician to ensure a healthy and safe pregnancy, while adoptive parents should identify a pediatrician to ask questions to and care for their child after placement.
A doctor can also answer your questions about genetic predisposition to certain traits and substance use by prospective birth parents. Just make sure to choose one who is familiar with adoption and can provide the kind of special care you and your child deserve.
7. The Teammate
Most of all, you’ll need someone who is there for you through thick and thin. For many adoptive parents and prospective birth parents, this is a spouse or close family member or friend who will support them no matter what — and be there the minute you ask for help.
Your teammate could also be the prospective birth or adoptive parent you’re taking this journey with. This is especially important in private domestic infant adoption; you’ll be working closely together to provide the best future for the unborn baby, and a strong partnership now can lead to a lifelong open adoption relationship.
Not sure how to get your spouse on the same page? Not sure how to establish a solid relationship with a prospective birth parent or adoptive parent? Don’t be afraid to reach out to your adoption professional for suggestions and advice.