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How to Talk About Placing a Child for Adoption [In 5 Steps]

Telling Others About Your Adoption Plan

Telling your family about adoption can be daunting because you want them to support your decision. Once you’ve chosen adoption for your child, you’ll eventually have to decide which family members, friends and other people in your life you are going to tell about your adoption plan. If you're nervous about starting that conversation, you can reach out for support at 1-800-ADOPTION now.

Many prospective birth mothers ask us, “Who do I tell when I decide to do adoption?”

That’s up to you. Some pregnant women decide to only inform people whom they believe will be supportive of the adoption; some decide to keep the adoption secret from almost everyone, and some decide to tell nearly everyone they know.

Every woman’s situation is different, so you must decide for yourself who and who not to tell.

This is your adoption decision, and while not everyone you tell may agree with it, only you know what is truly best for you and your baby.

Here are some suggestions for how to talk about placing a child for adoption with family or friends:

Step 1: Talk to an Adoption Specialist

Whether you have chosen to work with American Adoptions, another adoption professional, or are still considering adoption for your baby, it is important to speak with an adoption specialist or an adoption counselor.

She will learn about your family dynamics as well as the other people in your life and provide some insight on how to approach them with the news of your adoption plan.

Step 2: Change How You Talk About Adoption

Telling someone about adoption can be nerve-wracking, especially if your family doesn’t have much experience with adoption. Many pregnant women don’t have much experience with adoption themselves, and they’ll ask how to tell family you are “giving away” a baby.

But, adoption is not actually “giving up.” It is a thoughtful and loving choice, and it’s important that your family knows this, as well.

Before you talk to your friends and family members about adoption, learn about positive adoption language. While it’s common to hear and use phrases like “giving a baby up for adoption,” this type of language creates negative connotations and doesn’t accurately reflect the loving, proactive plan you are making for your child.

Using positive adoption language, like “placing a baby for adoption” or “choosing an adoption plan,” will help you to have more positive and empowered conversations about adoption with your friends and family members.

Step 3: Approach Family Members

Your adoption specialist will be able to give you some advice to make telling your family about adoption as painless as possible, so it can help to check in with them before you approach your immediate family or close friends to go over what you might want to say. Remember that you don’t have to say anything at all if you don’t feel it necessary.

Here are a few things to keep in mind before telling your close family and friends about your adoption decision:

  • It is suggested that you first tell the family members or friends who you believe will be most supportive of your decision. This will help you build your adoption support system for when you tell other people who may be less receptive. You can even have those supportive of your decision accompany you when telling the rest of your family and friends.

  • While you may have a feeling how certain family members or friends will react to the news, you may not always receive the response that you expect. Therefore, it’s usually a good idea to approach each person neutrally and with no preconceived expectations.

  • If your pregnancy is still a secret, consider only disclosing that information for now. Telling certain family members or friends about an unplanned pregnancy and an adoption plan all at once could be overwhelming, and you may not receive the response you want. If they ask how you are going to raise a child, you may tell them that you are exploring your options. However, if the opportunity presents itself and the timing seems right, feel free to tell them about your intentions of pursuing adoption.

Step 4: Know What to Expect

An adoption specialist can go over potential scenarios with you. For example:

  • What happens if you tell someone and they’re unexpectedly supportive of your adoption plan and are proud of you for making this brave and difficult choice?
  • What happens if someone you thought would be supportive is actually very judgmental of you and tries to change your mind or makes you feel bad?

This can be scary to think about. We know, because we’ve been through the same thing.

Many of our staff members are birth parents, adoptees and adoptive parents. We’ve had these conversations with our own family, so you can be confident when we’re by your side.

Here are a few thoughts to help you prepare for the potential reactions to your adoption decision:

  • Certain family members' or friends’ reactions may be hurtful. Try your best to not take it personally and to understand where they are coming from. Once they have time to digest what you have told them, they may be able to discuss the situation from a less emotional place.

  • If you do share your intentions to place the baby for adoption, it is possible that your family or friends may respond negatively to the idea. This typically happens with those who don’t understand how today’s adoptions work. Tell them what you know about adoption, and if necessary, invite them to speak with an adoption specialist.

Step 5: Move Forward After You Tell

Even if you end up telling someone about adoption and they’re not supportive, you’ll never be alone in your adoption journey. You’ll always have fellow birth moms, your adoption specialist and your child’s adoptive family to support you. If you share your adoption plan with someone and they’re a source of positivity for you, then they may make a good addition to your support system.

Here are a few possibilities for what could happen after you tell someone about your adoption plan:

  • If and when your family or friends support your adoption decision, show them how much their support means to you. Having a strong adoption support system will help you in many ways throughout the adoption process.

  • You have likely spent a lot of sleepless nights struggling with your adoption decision, but what ultimately helped you decide that adoption was the right choice for your baby? Open up and explain what led you to this decision. Hopefully, they will then be able to see the situation from your perspective.

  • If you feel comfortable, allow supportive friends and family members to be involved in your adoption plan. Tell them it would mean a lot to you if they would help you select an adoptive family and be there with you at the hospital. Again, having that adoption support system can be very beneficial during this difficult time.

Before you discuss your unplanned pregnancy and adoption plan with family members and friends, consider talking to an adoption specialist at 1-800 ADOPTION. He or she can discuss in great detail how to approach this delicate conversation with your family, and give you tips on how to talk about placing a child for adoption.

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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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