Everyone can benefit from being a part of a community of peers where you can talk about similar experiences, discuss topics you’re all interested in and learn from each other. Adoption support groups can provide you with that community of peers, whether you’re an adoptee, a birth parent or an adoptive parent.
The Benefits of Finding Adoption Support
Even if you’re not the one who needs support right now, maybe you can provide that support for others who do need it.
The adoption process can feel lonely for adoptive parents and birth parents alike. It helps to talk to other people who have experienced similar situations.
Even after the adoption is finalized, it can be nice to connect with people who’ve been in your shoes. It’s good to have a place where you can talk about this part of your life that not everyone is going to fully understand unless they’ve been touched by adoption.
Joining a support group for adoption doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re experiencing a problem of some kind. It just provides you with a friendly adoption community!
How to Find Local Adoption Support Groups
Chances are there’s an adoption support group near you. A quick Google search can narrow it down pretty easily.
For Adoptive Parents
The North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACA) has a database of almost 900 adoption-related support groups that you can search by state or province, or by the type of group you’re looking for. Some of the types of groups they have in their database include:
- Foster Care
- African American/Canadian
- Asian/Pacific Islander
- Native American/Canadian
- International Adoption
- Single Parent Adoption
- Gay/Lesbian Adoption
- Kinship Care
- Search and Reunion
- Special Needs
For Birth Mothers
The On Your Feet Foundation offers retreats, mentoring, counseling and educational grants to birth mothers post-adoption.
BirthMom Buds also offers retreats, forums, a newsletter, a blog and even poetry to connect birth moms to each other. They support pregnant women considering adoption as well as birth mothers post-adoption.
If your area doesn’t have an adoption support group, this may be an opportunity for you to start one up to provide and receive support from others in your local community!
Online Support Groups
If you find that the nearest local meetings are a bit too far for you, online adoption support groups and forums can be a good way to discuss adoption with others. Remember that many online forums and discussions aren’t very well monitored, so anyone (even those who aren’t very educated about adoption or who have inaccurate information) can jump in and comment, so be wary.
But the nice thing about adoption forums is that they’re highly specific to groups of people. For example, there are forums for pregnant women considering adoption, forums for parents who’ve adopted internationally, forums for foster care parents, special needs adoption, adult adoptees and more. If you’re looking for a specific type of adoption support group, here are some resources to help you get started:
- You can find foster care and adoption support forums by state, which could also help you find local, in-person meetings with members in your area.
- National Adoption Center has online forums for adoptive families of every kind, adult adoptees and birth parents.
- Adoption Knowledge Affiliates has monthly meetings in Texas, as well as helpful resources for adoptees, adoptive parents and birth families.
- Families for Russian and Ukrainian Adoption offer resources, forums and support to adoptive families and adoptees of Eastern European adoption.
- The Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E) offers webinars, workshops, publications and free resources for adoptive families, adoptees and foster care families. They can also connect you with local adoption professionals who specialize in therapy and counseling in your area.
- Families with Children from China (FCC) boast a network of parent support groups through the U.S, Canada and the U.K. for adoptive families who’ve adopted children from China. There are hundreds of local chapters that you can join. You can also learn more about starting your own local chapter.
- Search adoption support groups by state at American Adoption Congress, where you can narrow results down to your area and learn how to start your own adoption support group.
- DailyStrength provides online support groups for adoptive families, particularly those in the early adoption process.
- Gay Parent Magazine has a great resource of parent support groups within the LGBTQ community.
- The Guatemala Adoptive Families Network offers support to families who’ve adopted their children from Guatemala.
- National Adoption Center has resources, educational seminars and support specializing in special needs adoptions and the adoption of children from minority cultures.
- The Child Welfare Information Gateway provides information and resources for birth parents, adoptive families and adoptees of all types.
- 211 is helpful for finding local support groups and adoption-related resources for you to utilize.
A Word of Caution About Adoption and Social Media Support Groups
In the age of social media, we’ve all seen the benefits and drawbacks to constant contact and the overwhelming availability of information; not all of it truthful. Online support groups and forums through social media can turn from supportive to hateful quickly for some members. Use caution, and DO NOT go to social media for a primary source of accurate information on adoption.
We hope that you will hear these as strong suggestions and recommendations based on both personal and professional experiences over the years. We feel strongly about the benefit of healthy support and the detriments of unhealthy outlets. This is what we have found to be helpful and unhelpful.
Here are some basic do’s and don’ts of participating in social media adoption support groups:
- DON’T… try to count how many families are “ahead of you in line” to adopt; that’s not how adoption works— expectant mothers will choose you on their own timeline, not yours.
- DO… know when to step away from social media if you feel staying involved is causing you more stress rather than relieving your stress.
- DON’T… compare yourself and your adoption journey to those of others; you’re unaware of all the facts and the full scope of the situation at hand.
- DO… use common sense and empathy when sharing photos of your successfully adopted children; other members are still waiting or grieving.
- DON’T… spread gossip, rumors, or unverified facts if you are not an adoption professional.
- DO… share your experiences AS your experiences, and remind others that every adoption journey will be different; there’s no one “truest” experience when all are valid.
- DON’T… express negativity towards adoption in a space where others are seeking comfort, refuge and positivity— take argumentative anti-adoption rhetoric elsewhere.
- DO… trust your adoption professional over someone on Facebook; adoption professionals want to help!