As an adoptive parent, you’ve spent a lot of time preparing yourself for this exciting opportunity. After all, education is the first and most important step when it comes to adoption.
But one aspect that might not have crossed your mind is how to explain this complicated process to your extended family.
A strong support system is part of the foundation of a successful adoption. If you’re an adoptive parent, you already know this. But, you’re likely anxious about how to tell your extended family about your adoption plan. You may have even spent lots of time envisioning countless scenarios — but are having a hard time knowing where to start.
Try not to psych yourself out too much. Your extended family wants to support you every step of the way. All they need is your help to do so.
Continue reading this guide to help prepare your extended family for the adoption.
How to Talk to Your Family About Adoption
Getting the conversation started is the hardest step. But, it only gets easier from here.
As the adoptive parent, you’ll become your extended family’s ambassador for the adoption process. You’ll probably have to spend some time clearing up some common misconceptions about the adoption process, the lives of prospective birth parents and life experiences for adoptees.
You may need to revisit some of these conversations more than once before the truth sinks in. But, don’t give up! There are a ton of articles and resources at your disposal that can help make these discussions easier.
Remember that your loved ones will probably need time to get used to the idea of adoption and their future family member. There will probably be times when they use the wrong terminology or say the wrong thing on accident. Try to be as patient with them as you would want someone to be with you.
How Should We Handle a Negative Response?
Everyone has their own opinions about adoption, especially your extended family. But try not to let any negative comments wear you down.
Initial reactions aren’t always positive, so try to give your loved ones some time to warm up to your decision. When they’re ready to talk or if they have any questions or concerns, let them know that they can always speak with you face-to-face.
If they’re still not comfortable with adoption, try not to let those feelings influence your decision. While we hope that everyone you share the good news with will be supportive of your decision, we know it isn’t always the case. Remember, you’re pursuing adoption for your own happiness — not for your extended family. Even if your family member doesn’t completely agree with your decision, don’t let that stop you from doing what’s best for you and your family.
At the end of the day, you have to do what’s best for your family. If one of your family members isn’t supportive of your relationship, you may need to take a step back for a while. The last thing you want is for their opinion to impact your child’s view of their adoption.
Unfortunately, if they can’t be supportive at all, you might have to think about cutting contact completely for your child’s well-being.
How Can We Involve Our Family?
Getting your family in on the adoption process is part of the fun!
Although you will of course have a larger role in the adoption, you can try to keep your loved ones in the loop so that they’re aware of how everything is progressing. That way, if you have good news like an adoption opportunity, they’ll be one of the first people you reach out to.
Of course, there are other ways that your loved ones can support your adoption. If your extended family is looking for some more tangible ways they can get involved, a few ideas include:
- Donating to your adoption fundraiser (if you’ve started one)
- Staying current on adoption-related events
- Speaking up and spreading awareness about adoption
- And so much more
Keeping extended family involved will help make them feel like they’re really a part of the process. If they have any questions about what they should expect during this journey, they might reach out to your adoptive family specialist.
Don’t forget to let loved ones know that there are plenty of ways to get involved in your child’s life after the adoption is over, too. Offering to babysit, planning a family outing and cooking a delicious meal are just a few more ways that everyone can stay connected.
No matter how you do it, keeping a loved one involved will prove just how much they mean to you.
If you have any other questions about explaining adoption to your extended family members, please give your specialist a call or contact them online.
Can you recommend good books for family members feeling uncertain about supporting me/us in the adoption process?
Hi, Gretchen — You can find some great books for both adoptive parents and their family here: https://creatingafamily.org/adoption/adoptionsuggestedbooks/adoption-books-parents/ You are also always welcome to reach out to your adoption specialist for more guidance and suggestions.