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Preparing for How Family Members May React to Your News

And What You Can Do About It

If you’re fearful about telling your parents and family about your unplanned pregnancy because you’re not sure how they’ll react, we’re here to help. Call us at 1-800-ADOPTION if you need support right now.

You might be wondering:  How will you tell them? What will they think? How will they react?

If you’ve chosen adoption for your child, talking to your family may become even more stressful. Will they understand why this is what’s best for your baby?

These concerns are normal. It’s common for women to be nervous about sharing their pregnancy and adoption plans with the people closest to them. You may be worried that your parents or other family members will be upset, angry or disappointed in you. You may even worry that they will try to pressure you into making a certain decision about your pregnancy.

Just remember: no matter how your friends or family might react, this is your decision and no one else’s. You are the only person who can decide what is best for you and your baby. And while you can control your own words and actions, you cannot control what your friends and family members might react. 

It can be helpful to prepare yourself for the three potential scenarios that you might encounter when you tell your family about your pregnancy and adoption decision:

Scenario 1: They Decide to Stay Out of It

In this scenario, your family members remain uninvolved with your adoption decision after you tell them about choosing adoption.  Maybe they react by saying things like:

  • “Do whatever you think is best.”

  • “This is your problem.”

  • “That’s between you and the baby’s father.”

Sometimes, it can hurt if your family seems uninterested in such an important decision in your life, especially if you’re turning to them for emotional support. However, your family may simply not understand your decision yet, or may not have processed their own feelings about the adoption yet.

Remember that even if your family members aren’t there to be your emotional support during your adoption process, you’re never alone. Your adoption specialist and the adoptive family are there for you and want the best for you.

Scenario 2: They Try to Change Your Mind

Sometimes, when a pregnant woman who is choosing adoption tells her family about her adoption plan, her family members may react with strong emotions, such as:

  • Anger

  • Hurt

  • Betrayal

  • Confusion

Particularly when a family member isn’t familiar with or knowledgeable about modern adoption, they may react badly to your news. It’s important that you prepare for this possibility.

Your family may feel angry or hurt that you did not ask them to adopt the child, or they may feel as if you don’t see them as being capable to help you raise your baby. Family members who try to change the minds of women who are choosing adoption for their babies often do so because they don’t understand adoption, or because they don’t understand why you’re choosing to place a child with adoptive parents.

There are a number of reasons why a family member may be unsupportive of you when you tell them about your adoption decision:

  • They may come from a culture where families raise children together, and blood ties are important

  • They may feel hurt that you didn’t ask them to adopt your baby

  • They may have raised children themselves in spite of the reasons why you’re choosing adoption, and they feel as if you’re judging their parental abilities

  • They may still have a view of adoption informed by movies or books, where children were placed in foster care or orphanages

  • They might think that they’re “helping” you by encouraging you to parent your baby

If you’re having difficulty approaching a family member who you feel might be unsupportive of your adoption plan, you can always ask your adoption specialist for advice on how to talk to them. Note that if you’re in a toxic environment or you feel as if your safety is in danger because a family member is reacting badly to your adoption decision; seek help to remove yourself from the situation immediately, if necessary.

You can always contact us online or call us at 1-800-ADOPTION to talk to an adoption specialist, and get free information about adoption as well as counseling about talking to your family.

Scenario 3: They Support You

Choosing adoption for your baby requires extraordinary courage and selflessness. You might be surprised to find that your family respects how much thought and care you’ve put into this difficult and mature decision, and that they’re supportive of you and your adoption plan.

They may show their support of you in small, but important ways, like:

  • Offering to babysit your older children while you attend doctor’s visits or meetings with the adoptive family

  • Driving you to appointments

  • Supporting you at the hospital

  • Offering to help choose or meet the adoptive family

  • Asking questions about your adoption process or the adoptive parents

Again, it can take a while for your family to process their feelings about your adoption decision. They may be unsure about your choice to place your baby for adoption at first, and then as you talk to them about your plan, they become more supportive.

Another possibility is that they become a little overbearing in how much they want to participate in your adoption process. They might keep trying to assert their opinions. This is likely because they’re trying to be supportive, but they end up coming on too strong and crowding you.

Be patient with your family. Know that your adoption specialist and the adoptive parents will be there to help support you, as well, so your family isn’t the only source of emotional support on your side.

Talking to Your Family About an Adoption Plan

If you’re placing your baby for adoption, you’ll likely want to tell your close family and friends about your decision at some point. Maybe you want to do this when you tell them that you’re pregnant, or maybe you’ve decided that you’re going to wait awhile after telling them about your pregnancy to explain that you’re making an adoption plan for the baby. Some women don’t feel the need to tell their friends or family about their adoption decision at all. This is entirely up to you.

Much of how and when you tell people about your adoption decision will be based on your individual situation.

Not sure how to talk to your family about your decision to place your baby for adoption? Worried about how they’ll react? An adoption specialist can help you prepare before approaching your family with the news.

You can get the advice you need, because our team is made up of birth parents, adoptive parents and adoptees. We’ve had many of these difficult conversations personally, and we can help.

Your adoption specialist can better help you understand the emotions of your family members and give you tips on how to talk to them about your pregnancy and/or adoption decision. She is available at 1-800-ADOPTION or by getting free adoption information, so never hesitate to ask questions or to get help when you need it.

Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. American Adoptions provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is American Adoptions the right adoption agency choice for many birth mothers?

American Adoptions is one of the largest licensed adoption agencies in the United States. Each year, we work with thousands of women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy and offer assistance to these women. Our large, caring staff is able to assist you seven days a week and provide you with one-on-one counseling about your pregnancy and available options.

You should choose an adoption agency where you feel completely comfortable with their services and staff. With American Adoptions, you will work with an Adoption Specialist who is on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Adoption Specialist will be your advocate and will provide support and guidance as you create an adoption plan that is right for you.

How will the family tell my child about me and the adoption when my child is older?

Each family has their own style of introducing adoption to the child. When you are matched with an adoptive family, you can ask them this question. If you would like your Adoption Specialist to discuss it for you, just let her know. He or she can share your wishes or provide good ideas from other adoptive families.

You will also be able to share what you want your baby to know about you. You can complete a keepsake booklet to share hobbies, stories, photos of you and your family and a letter to your baby. The adoptive family can provide this to your child as he or she grows older. Be as creative as you like! Some birth mothers have even knitted a special blanket as a gift to their baby or given a similar symbol of their love.

The father of your baby can fill out the birth father's keepsake booklet or write a letter too. You may have other family members who would also like to share photos or a letter to the baby. This is your opportunity to pass on your and your family's love and to share your personality, history and reasons for choosing adoption. The adoptive family will treasure whatever information you provide and will share it with the baby at an appropriate age. In most adoptive homes, the word adoption is in the child's vocabulary early on, and adoption is celebrated in their lives.

Additional Resources

Teen Pregnancy - Information for Young Women

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Do adoption terms and phrases leave you feeling confused? Learn the meaning to key adoption words and phrases with our comprehensive adoption glossary.

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