Telling Your Friends and Family About Your AdoptionOnce your family has completed the necessary steps to become active, you’ll be well on the way of your adoption journey. Your family profile will begin to be shown to expectant mothers, and it can be a time of great excitement. Your heart may jump a little with every telephone ring, or you may find yourself gazing at tiny footed pajamas in the department store. In this time of anticipation and excitement, you may also be wondering what to tell people about your choice to pursue adoption and how much baby gear to buy now or save for later.

Sharing Your Decision to Adopt with Others

In truth, the decision depends on what you and your spouse are comfortable with. Some families may have already told friends, neighbors and extended family members about the adoption, while others may have chosen to keep it just between themselves and a few select people.

  • Remember, you don’t have to tell anyone at all about your plan until you have received an adoption opportunity, or are preparing to bring home your baby, and you do not need to share any details that you aren’t comfortable with.
  • Simply tell those who pester you for updates that you’ll let them know the moment you hear of anything.
  • Take the opportunity to educate those who respond negatively about adoption or who use negative language that can be hurtful to people effected by adoption.

The most important thing to know is that the decision of what and when to tell is totally up to you.

Telling Your Other Children

Whenever a family already has a child through a previous adoption or biologically, it is important to approach the topic of adding a new baby brother/sister delicately.

  • It’s a great time to talk to your child about the different ways families are formed. If your child is adopted, it can create a safe environment to talk with them about their own adoption story.
  • Approach the topic in a developmentally and age-appropriate manner. You don’t want to talk over your child’s level of comprehension.
  • Consider timing and how much you tell your child. For example, it may not be wise to say when you have received an adoption opportunity or when the baby is expected to join the family. If the adoption opportunity does not end in a successful adoption, your child will have a difficult time understanding why. Children also struggle to grasp the concept of time and may become confused. And if your child is adopted, a disruption may possibly bring up other questions or emotions that might affect their own fears of permanence.
  • It’s good for each of your children to have their own birth/adoption story with special meaning. You can express that their stories are different but no less special than another. Whether your children are adopted or biological, you’ll need to create special memories for them and  find a way to make their stories unique, even if you have completely different amounts of information to share.
  • While it is important for a child to know their adoption/birth story and feel special and secure in your family unit, it is also important that this does not become the definition of your family or child.

In discussion with your spouse, you’ll decide the best way to tell your child about your plans to adopt so that your child(ren) aren’t completely surprised but is protected from the uncertainties and unknowns of adoption.

When to Buy Baby Supplies and Set Up a Nursery

This is a very common concern among adoptive families. There is no right or wrong approach because everyone has different comfort levels. But here are some general suggestions to consider:

  • If you would be more relaxed to have the nursery finished or at least have some important items (crib, car seat, etc.) purchased, go ahead and do that.
  • Ask yourself how you’ll feel if you holding onto these items without using them, and consider putting them away and out of sight.
  • If  you think that purchasing items or painting the nursery now will help your adoptions plans seem more real, the best time to do so is prior to receiving  your adoption opportunity. Look at it as a step toward becoming parents.
  • Do not wait until an adoption opportunity to then purchase tons of items, especially items based on the gender of the baby, because if an opportunity does not turn into a successful adoption, it can be much harder to emotionally transfer items to a different opportunity and baby.
  • If you are concerned that there will not be enough time to get everything you need, think again. Many adoptive parents buy a few imperative supplies– a blanket, some clothing and a car seat– on the way to the hospital and get everything else later. The hospital usually provides some diapers and formula at the time of discharge.
  • Then during the ICPC wait, you can run errands and purchase more clothing, formula, etc. This works out great because you’ll have something to do and can pick out items specifically for your baby.

Remember, if you buy items, prior to receiving an adoption opportunity, consider them items for your future baby, no matter how everything occurs. And of course, you can always wait to buy things after your baby is born.

The Best Time to Host a Baby Shower

Consider postponing a baby shower until your placement occurs. Often, your friends and family members will be very anxious to spoil you and celebrate your progress through the adoption process. But you may not be able to relax and enjoy the occasion if your adoption has not occurred with certainty. Instead, have a welcome-home baby shower after ICPC so that you can let your guard down and fully enjoy the occasion. It’s also a great opportunity for everyone to meet your newest addition.

Many couples may not feel comfortable waiting until the last minute to prepare. There is no one right way to handle all of this. So it’s a good idea to sit down together and find out what works best for both of you.