Tips for Preparing Family and Friends for Your Adoption

When it comes to the prospect of adopting a child, most couples are giddy with anticipation and excitement. Their excitement may have developed over the course of months or years as they researched and learned everything there was to know about the gift of adoption. They may become even more elated as the process moves forward, driving them one step closer to becoming new parents.

Unfortunately, many couples neglect to prepare their friends and family for what lies ahead for them. Preparing your family and friends for an adoption doesn’t have to be difficult or challenging. This is an essential step in welcoming a new child into your home that shouldn’t be glossed over or forgotten in your excitement.

Are you struggling with the best way to share the joyous news with your support system? Here are a few tips for helping the conversation to go a little smoother as you prepare them for the transition your family is about to make.

Give them time to process.

Chances are you didn’t come around to the idea of an adoption overnight. It took weeks or months for you to accept adoption as a plan for your family instead of fretting over the details. In some families, it may have even taken years for the timing to be perfect for bringing a new child into your family. When you share the news with family and friends, you should keep in mind that they didn’t have the same amount of time to adjust to that idea.

Initially, your family and friends may not share the same level of enthusiasm that you do. This could be because they are surprised by the news or have concerns of their own. Either way, it will take them some time to come to terms with the decision you’re making to adopt a child. You should prepare to give them some time to process that information instead of expecting an immediately exuberant response.

Prepare to educate some of them.

Everyone knows someone who adopted and has their own horror story. Many of these myths are nothing more than that – myths of things that never truly happened or were blown wildly out of proportion. Your friends and family members are probably well-meaning in their attempts to derail your adoption plans with stories of some not-so-happy endings. As a newly adoptive parent, it will now become your job to educate the people around you on adoption.

This may mean sharing statistics about the success rates of adoptions or walking them through the legal process of how adoptions become finalized. The odds are that you have already wrestled with some of these misconceptions and found them to be false. It’s time for you to pass that knowledge on to your friends and family members before your new child comes home.

Make them feel included.

Adoption doesn’t simply happen overnight. There are weeks spent doing trivial tasks to prepare for the arrival of a new child. You may need to go shopping for new clothes, cribs, furniture, and other daily odds and ends. Perhaps you need to paint and decorate the nursery. Invite supportive friends and family members to take part in these tangible expressions of love for your new child. By involving them in the process, you can help to speed up their feelings of love and affection for your new little one.

Find a gentle way to decline sharing personal details.

It’s in our nature to be curious about the circumstances surrounding a major life event like adoption. Most friends and family members may be curious about how you came to the final decision to pursue this path. You can definitely share details that led up to your own decision if you feel comfortable doing so. However, sharing details about the birth mother and her life story may be better left untouched.

Birth mothers can make an adoption plan for many reasons. She may be too young to parent a child effectively, have a medical condition that prevents her from parenting, or any number of social reasons. Regardless of the exact details, she is making a loving sacrifice for her child to have a better life than the one she feels she could offer them. The personal details of her decision aren’t necessarily yours to share with everyone around you.

There will have to be a fine line that develops as you learn to protect and respect your child’s story. You won’t want them to grow up knowing the heavy details surrounding their adoption plan if they aren’t ready for it. They may not even want many people to know their full story because of their own sense of shame and need for privacy. Be mindful of this detail and come up with a gentle way to decline to overshare these personal details about your baby’s life and development.

Set up boundaries in advance.

Some adoptive parents make unique decisions regarding the role they will play as parents in the early days of a placement. They may opt to “cocoon” with their child, preferring for the new parents to meet each and every need. Depending on the circumstances, you may not want to allow friends and family members to hold the baby for a set period of time. Whatever boundaries you and your partner decide on should be discussed with friends and family members in advance.

Be prepared to explain the reasons behind some of these decisions so they can understand where you’re coming from. If they feel like they won’t be able to offer you any support during these early days, come up with a couple of tangible things they can do to express their love and support. This can help them to have more respect for your boundaries and allow them to feel productive and involved all at the same time.

Sharing the news of your adoption with friends and family members can be cause for huge celebration. However, it may take some time for them to adjust to the idea of you bringing a new child into your family through the miracle of adoption. Be sure to give them space and the answers they need in order to accept this new little one who is going to be your own in the near future.

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