Tips for Establishing an Adoption Support System
The old adage that no man is an island holds true in almost every circumstance, adoption included. Prospective adoptive families often underestimate the important role that a support system will play in the development and finalization of their adoption. Friends and family members will be there during the celebrations and the unavoidable struggles that sometimes come when new children enter into the family.
Attempting to go through the adoption without this support system is akin to being on a one-man tug-of-war team. You aren’t likely to get far without the support of others who can empathize with your situation. While you may be extremely excited at the prospect of adopting a child, it is still a major life transition that will require an adjustment in your lifestyle. This can be more difficult than many families anticipate, and doing it alone makes you feel isolated.
You need the constant reassurance, guidance, advice, and encouragement that these people will offer. Over time, they become a tribe of trusted individuals who will help steer you through good times and bad.
Many individuals and families who are beginning the adoption journey wonder how they can begin to establish their adoption support system. How do you find people to surround you with love and wisdom while you walk through this life’s path? If you’re struggling to develop an adoption support system of your own, here are a few tips you may want to keep in mind.
Go to local adoption education classes.
There’s no better way to connect with other individuals who really “get” adoption than to meet people at local education classes. These may be sponsored by your adoption agency, child service agencies through the state, or independent companies that simply have information to offer to the community. When you attend these groups, make it a point to introduce yourself to the people who are seated around you. Ask what their interest is in this class, and attempt to make connections whenever and wherever possible.
The bonus to this tip is that you are learning something while simultaneously connecting with other families in the area. It’s a win-win situation, either way you look at it.
Find a local adoption support group.
Is there any more ideal place to meet an adoption support system than at a support group? If you have already been placed with a child, you may quickly find kindred spirits in a local support group. You can get to know parents who are right in the middle of the trenches with you. Connecting through stories and shared experiences in this group setting is a simple way to break the ice and begin a relationship.
Your adoption agency may sponsor one of these groups, but you could also find them at churches, state-sponsored adoption offices, and community centers in your area. If you struggle to find a support group locally, you can often find an online message board or support group to share your concerns or struggles with like-minded individuals. This isn’t the same as a tangible relationship available in your daily life, but it can help to ease some of the loneliness and isolation you could be feeling.
Talk with friends and family about your needs.
It may be uncomfortable at first, but you can establish an adoption support system much faster by talking with your friends and family about your needs. They may desire to help but have little idea of how to offer practical solutions to your problems and struggles. If you can give them tangible ways to offer their support and encouragement, this may provide you with more care than you initially imagined.
Keep in mind that not all friends and family members may be supportive of your decision to adopt. It may not be worth your time to attempt to include these people in your adoption support group if you must first persuade them that adoption is the right decision for your family. This only applies to friends and family members who are encouraging you to pursue this adoption in the first place.
Have an open conversation with your adoption worker.
If you are working with a local adoption agency, your worker may be a great resource to add to your support team. They often know what resources are available in your local area to help with any issues that may arise. Similarly, they have extensive professional experience and have likely witnessed the same struggles that you are going to face as your adoption moves forward.
While your adoption worker may not be an ongoing friend, it is nice to have a few professionals available to reach out to during a time of need. Sometimes support can be as simple as gaining access to a particular training, getting a recommendation for a professional counselor, or hearing the wisdom of someone who has been through the process countless times.
The importance of gaining and maintaining a support system can’t be understated when it comes to your new adoption. You will be transitioning into a new stage of life, which can be both wonderfully exciting and terrifyingly challenging at times. Many new parents have an inherent support system when they give birth to a child, but it can be more difficult for adoptive families to cultivate the same type of caring community.
Following a few of these tips, you can begin to genuinely connect with the adoption community in your area. Focus on building friendships with seasoned adoptive parents who can empathize with your situation and offer their own hard-won experience. The value of their advice and encouragement will be absolutely priceless to you when you’re struggling through a hard transition with your new little one.
Adoption can truly be a beautiful experience for everyone involved. Not only will your family grow with the addition of the child, but it will also grow wider as you expand your social support system. Your life will ultimately develop into a richer and more meaningful existence as you journey along this path.