When we talk about stigmas surrounding adoption, we tend to think of the past, when people didn’t share that they had adopted and all adoptions were closed. Though this seems like this was how things were handled long ago, it wasn’t in our too distant past that these things happened. Also, unfortunately, stigmas surrounding adoption still exist.
One of the hardest things to navigate as both a birth parent and an individual hoping to adopt is when your family is unsupportive of your choices. Sometimes, parents and other family members can be upset and shame birth families creating an adoption plan and family members might also judge those who are choosing to build their family through adoption. There are many reasons this might happen and things that you can do to have conversations with those who are the closest to you.
Making an adoption plan is a very selfless and brave act, but it is something people in your family may not understand. If you’re used to leaning on your loved ones in difficult times, this can be doubly hard. However, it’s quite possible that your family members aren’t being unsupportive, but are looking out for your own well being.
There still remains a lack of education surrounding adoption, so you may want to share with your family how things will go. It’s important to remind them that you are in control of your adoption plan–from choosing the adoptive parents to determining the openness of your relationship with your child. If your family is concerned about you making this decision because they hope you will decide to parent, hear them out, but be sure to explain why you are making this decision and why you feel like it is in your own best interest. Because of your family’s own lived experiences and if they’ve had any experiences with adoption, they may have strong opinions. Is there a chance that they won’t agree with your choice? Absolutely. But, you can provide them with materials to help them understand. This article provides some things you can say to your loved ones during these trying conversations.
American Adoptions shares that it’s important to continue to educate, but also offer services. I know it is often helpful to bring those closest with you to your adoption agency so that they can ask questions and get a better understanding of what you’re about to go through.
When my husband and I started our own adoption journey, I was shocked to discover that though we were excited, not everyone was happy for us. Many people still had old fashioned views about adoption. In retrospect, I don’t think these thoughts came from people being cruel, but because they had a lack of information. As a college professor, I tell people all the time how critical it is to put yourself in someone’s shoes and listening to their own real life experiences before making judgements and though people in our family may have had biological children, our way of building a family wasn’t wrong. Education is always helpful, but it’s at your discretion how much to share. You will typically know if someone is concerned for you, particularly if there have been other things that have happened to you previously like struggling with infertility or losing a child. However, there are some people that may not be on board and hopefully, you can mend that relationship when they meet the newest addition to your family.
It is important to remember that at the end of the day, you know yourself. Your choice is your choice. Though people may not agree, you have the right to do what is best for you.
If you have questions about making an adoption plan or if you are hoping to start the adoption process, reach out to Adoption Choice, Inc.