Adoption can be a complicated journey, full of ups and downs. Having the right people by your side from the beginning can make it a little easier.

Whether you’re a prospective birth parent or hopeful adoptive parent, you may be unsure of exactly who to involve in your journey. That’s where we come in. Here at American Adoptions, we are always willing to play a key role in your adoption process — and help you decide which people are (and aren’t) helpful on your team moving forward.

So, without further ado, here are seven types of people we recommend including on your support team:

1. The Veteran

As much as you read about adoption, it can be hard to really understand the process. Talking with someone who’s been through it can make all the difference.

No two adoptions are the same, so we encourage all prospective birth parents and waiting adoptive parents to reach out to those who have been in your shoes. That way, you can get personalized answers to your questions and learn more about what to expect from someone who’s actually experienced it. These veterans can offer insight on “dos” and “don’ts” for the process, as well as what they would have done differently their first time around.

American Adoptions maintains a list of resource families and birth parents that are willing to talk about their experiences. Contact your specialist anytime to be connected with them.

2. The Counselor

Adoption is not a decision to make lightly. It can help to speak with a counselor before starting this journey.

If you’re a prospective birth parent, you can call 1-800-ADOPTION anytime to receive free, objective unplanned pregnancy counseling. Our specialists will walk you through each of your pregnancy options and help you decide which is best for you. We will never pressure into choosing adoption unless you are absolutely sure it is the right path for you.

If you’re a hopeful parent, you might consider infertility counseling. This way, you can learn about all of your family-building options, including adoption, and ensure that you understand the pros and cons of each. When you choose adoption, you do have to make some sacrifices, and an infertility counselor can help you address and resolve those complicated emotions.

3. The Expert

No one knows adoption quite like American Adoptions, and our specialists are always happy to serve as the expert advice-giver on your support team. From start to finish, your specialist will be by your side to guide you, answer questions and provide the knowledgeable support you need.

Here at American Adoptions, we’ve been through it all, and we use that experience to help every prospective birth parent and waiting adoptive parent. We even maintain a list of trusted third-party professionals for any additional services you may need.

Want to learn more about our agency services? Contact us online anytime.

4. The Doctor

It’s crucially important that a prospective birth mother and her unborn child stay as healthy as possible throughout her pregnancy and until their adoption is complete. A waiting adoptive parent should also be aware of any health issues an adoptee may have, so that they can prepare for the future.

That’s why having a trusted OBGYN and pediatrician on board is necessary. Whether you’re a prospective birth parent or a hopeful adoptive parent, you can ask your doctor any questions you may have along the way. Your adoption specialist can help coordinate the sharing of medical records, so that you have all the information you need.

5. The Shoulder to Cry On

Sometimes, adoption is hard. Having someone to vent to can make all the difference.

Whether it’s a family member or close friend, a loved one should be there to support you through the lows of the adoption process, just like they do through the highs. There will be times where you’ll be emotionally overwhelmed with the decision you’re making or the unfairness of the situation you’re in. When those times come, it’s important to have someone who will just listen to you, rather than try to fix every little detail.

Remember, if you are struggling to find someone to talk to, your adoption specialist will always be there for you.

6. The Reinforcements

Look to your friends, family and neighbors to provide the practical support you may need along the way. That could be pet-sitting while you fly to meet the prospective birth parents or picking up a frozen pizza from the store on the nights where you’re too exhausted from pregnancy to make your own dinner. These should be people who support your adoption choice and are willing to help you with anything you may need.

Remember, you should never feel obligated to include anyone in your adoption journey who questions your choice.

7. The Teammate

Finally, it’s important to include your teammate in this journey, as well. If you’re a prospective birth parent, that means the waiting adoptive parents (and vice versa).

It can be strange to think of a prospective birth parent or adoptive parent as your “teammate” when the adoption isn’t final yet, but remember that, should the adoption go through, this person will be someone you will be forever linked to. Establishing a good relationship from the start will be key. You’re in this together, however it ends up turning out. Don’t be afraid to open up to each other and share your losses and successes. If you’re unsure how, talk to your adoption specialist for ideas on appropriate ways to build your relationship.

Remember, if you are ever in need of additional support, American Adoptions will be there for you every step of the way.