I remember when I chose adoption, there were quite a few people in my life who didn’t approve of my decision. I had loved ones who told me I was giving up on my baby and that I was being selfish. Needless to say, they were wrong. The truth is, they only knew that adoption meant they wouldn’t have a relationship with my son in the way that they thought they should. They didn’t understand what adoption was or the benefits of it. One of the best ways to help friends and family understand about adoption is to educate them on adoption and its benefits.
Educate Yourself on Adoption
The first step in educating others about adoption is to educate yourself. You will find that a lot of what you will learn about adoption will come from your experience with it. Initially, you will probably do some research online to start. You might type your adoption questions into a browser’s search bar and find related articles and blogs. You also might call American Adoptions at 1-800-ADOPTION to have some of your general questions answered.
Once you connect with an adoption professional to follow through with the adoption process, you will have a relationship with them that encourages you asking questions about what to expect throughout the process. You will learn about the benefits of adoption, the challenges that it poses, and general adoption guidelines and procedures. Once you feel that you are confident in your own level of adoption education, then it is time to start educating those you care about who may not understand adoption.
Schedule a Conversation with Loved Ones who Don’t Understand
The next step in educating your loved ones on adoption is to take the time to do so. You may want to contact those who are not supportive and ask if they would be willing to hear you out and answer some of their questions as well. Make sure that you schedule this for a period of time that works for you. If you feel that it is too emotional to talk to a loved one who doesn’t understand, consider asking someone you trust to sit with you while you talk to them. Also, you can limit your available time for the conversation as well. If you can only handle 30-minute conversations once a week, then that’s the time they have to be educated.
Don’t talk down to those who do not understand. It’s unfortunate how many misconceptions are weaving through today’s society about adoption. While it may feel awful to have a lack of support, it’s probably because those people are believing misconceptions and just don’t know better. The best virtue you can express is patience and forgiveness. I know that it hurts to love someone who doesn’t support your adoption decision, but we can still be proactive in our healing by choosing patience and forgiveness in the first place.
Include Loved Ones Throughout the Adoption Process
I remember asking my dad to help me with moving my son’s belongings from my residence to his new home. He agreed. At the time, he was struggling to understand my decision, but I had taken time to talk to him about my decision. He respected the fact that I was open with him, and while he has his own fears to face, was proud of me for facing mine.
Sometimes loved ones just need to feel included in the adoption process so they know they are not losing a family member, but gaining a family. If you are able to include loved ones in your adoption experience, it may bring them comfort in the short-term. It may also help a birth mother to heal because she will have more people around her who understand and support her decision. Make sure you always check with the adoptive family before inviting other family members to join. Respecting a prospective adoptive family always comes first over making family members feel better. I do not say this to be cold, but realistic. The prospective adoptive parents may not be comfortable getting to know a whole new family right out of the gate. These relationships can take time to develop, and that is perfectly acceptable.
Talk to Your Adoption Professional
When you choose an adoption professional, you will be assigned an agent who will work with you to find the right prospective adoptive family for you and connect you with counseling. Talk to your adoption professional and adoption counselor about your personal family circumstances and level of support. They will have helpful tips for you on how to encourage education in such circumstances. Be open and honest with the ones you love about your adoption decision.
Lindsay is a guest blogger for Considering Adoption. She placed her son for adoption 7 years ago and hopes to use her experience to support and educate other expectant mothers considering adoption, as well as adoptive families.