Dealing with Unsupportive Parents and Other Family Members
How to Help Them Understand Your Adoption Plan
Wanting to have your family’s support when choosing adoption because you don’t want to go through this life-changing event alone is incredibly valid. If you’re struggling with unsupportive parents when choosing adoption for your baby, this guide can help.
Some expectant mothers worry that once they put their ideal adoption plan into place, unsupportive parents or family members will try to stop the adoption from happening.
No one — including your parents or other family members — can prevent you from following through with your adoption plan. Whether you choose to parent or place your child for adoption is a decision that only you are allowed to make. (Though, in very rare instances, minors may need to involve their parents in their adoption decision. You can learn more about placing a baby for adoption as a minor here).
However, parents who are unsupportive of adoption can affect your overall adoption experience. Because adoption is such an emotional time for everyone involved, particularly for you, it is in everyone’s best interest for your parents and other close family members to provide adoption support.
So, how do you turn parents who are unsupportive of adoption into parents who will be an important part of your adoption support system?
Step 1: Let Them Know That You’re In Charge of Every Decision
The best way is through education. Many times, unsupportive family members are coming from a place of love and concern for you. They may have fears about you choosing adoption that are based on misinformation or an outdated view of the adoption process, and they likely want to protect you from the emotional challenges of choosing adoption.
You will receive financial assistance – American Adoptions will cover your adoption expenses, such as medical, legal and counseling expenses. In many situations, you are also allowed living expenses to help you with rent, utilities and other bills.
You have goals that wouldn’t be possible to achieve while raising a child – Whether you have dreams of earning a college degree or beginning a career, adding a child to your life could put those goals on hold indefinitely. Regardless of your reason for choosing adoption, make sure your parents understand how your life will be positively affected by adoption.
You choose the amount of contact – You will receive letters and pictures, emails and any other types of contact with the adoptive family that is important to you. Your parents can also stay updated by being sent pictures and letters of their grandchild.
Step 2: Educate Them About the Reality of Modern Adoption
The people in your life who are unsupportive of your adoption decision may feel that way because they’re unaware of the many benefits that modern adoption can bring.
They may have an antiquated view of adoption that involves orphanages, foster care, secrecy and closed adoption relationships. Much of society’s education about adoption comes from TV, books and movies, and those representations in the media are often far from accurate.
Today, adoption actually looks much different. Birth mothers are the ones in charge of the adoption process, and when you make a voluntary adoption plan; your child will never end up in foster care or in an orphanage. Nine out of ten birth parents choose to have an open or semi-open adoption with their child, and you can decide to do the same, if you like. This means that you (and your immediate family, if you and the adoptive family are comfortable with that) can have some form of contact or relationship with your child and their parents after the adoption.
“I finally decided to begin the adoption process when I realized just how unhappy I had become. While everyone around me was so happy, I was not. After making my decision and beginning the adoption process, everyone around me wanted nothing to do with me. However, I knew in my heart that I was making the right decision for my daughter and myself. My adoption specialist helped me every step of the way. She made my decision so much easier,” said Renee about her experience with choosing adoption despite not having the support of those close to her.
Step 3: Talk to them about Adoptive Parents
Family and friends may be upset that you didn’t ask them to raise the baby. Gently but firmly explain to them how emotionally and socially complicated a kinship adoption can be, and why you made this decision for your baby. This is a good opportunity to show them how amazing the waiting adoptive families are and how long they’ve hoped for your child. If you’ve already chosen your child’s future parents, show them the profile! Putting faces to your choice can make your decision more real to unsupportive friends and family members, and they may begin to get excited about your baby’s future family.
Step 4: Repeat that You’d Appreciate Their Support
Tell them how important they are to you, and how much their support would mean to you during this emotional time. But remember that even if they still don’t come around to your decision, you will never be alone in your adoption process. You will always have the support of fellow birth moms, your adoption specialist and your child’s adoptive family.
Step 5: Stay Firm about What You Feel is Best
Above all, make sure your parents understand that no matter how they feel, you are moving on with your adoption plan. Remind them of all of the reasons you are choosing adoption, and reiterate how much their support would mean to you.
Ultimately, this is your choice, and nobody can make it for you or take away your ability to decide for yourself — regardless of whether or not they agree or how they feel. Choosing adoption is a difficult but loving decision, and you don’t deserve others to make you feel bad about it.
Remember, our adoption specialists are always available to help you determine how to approach unsupportive friends and family members. If you are pursuing adoption and need advice on how to talk to someone specifically, call 1-800-ADOPTION to get free adoption information and counseling.
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