When starting the adoption process, most adoptive parents anticipate that their family will support them as if they were having a biological child. And truth be told, most do.
Sometimes, however, issues may pop up that leave you asking yourself “Do they really support me in this?”
Additionally, the adoption journey is emotional, with ups and downs, which can cause many of us to be extra sensitive to what people say or to what we think they are saying. This can be a recipe for misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and all other sorts of family drama.
Comments some people make that feel non-supportive may be something like:
“Maybe you should try fertility treatments first. Or just try naturally a few more months.”
“What if your child is a different race? Or the mother lied about drug use? Then what are you going to do with it?”
“I heard some women want to adopt rather than ruin their body with pregnancy.”
“Aren’t you worried the mother will want her child back? Or the child will want to go back?”
“Why do you have to pay anything? You are opening your home up to a child less fortunate.”
“As soon as you start adoption, you’ll get pregnant. It always happens!”
Clearly statements like these are made by people who aren’t educated about modern adoption and the challenges that come along with it. One of the best things you can do is patiently educate them on the truth about what adoption looks like today. But you may also need a little more understanding about where some of them may be rooted, other than a lack of knowledge.
Mourning the Loss of a Biological Family Member
Just like adoptive parents, it may be difficult, especially for the future grandparents, to come to terms that you are not going to be bearing a biological heir. Their request to pursue fertility treatments or give it a little more time are clear evidence of those feelings. You may have already grieved this loss and are ready to move on, but your parents may not be. Give them a little time and space, and maybe share with them what helped you in the process.
Experience of Adoption in the Past
What they know about adoption may be from experiences or stories of people who were part of the adoption triad in the past. Open adoption was not in existence before the 1980’s, and even then many adoptions were still closed. You didn’t share with your child they were adopted from birth, and you certainly didn’t know and care about your child’s birth parents. With an old-fashioned understanding of adoption, open adoption can seem risky and scary, until you truly understand that it is just more people to love your child.
Due to the cost of most adoptions (with the exception of adoption through the foster system), it can seem like a risky endeavor. However fertility treatments hold an even greater risk for often the same or more money. If your family members have never researched fertility treatments, they may assume that insurance covers them once you get past your out-of-pocket maximum. The reality is that from a financial aspect, most families learn that money spent toward a biological baby is often more at risk than that invested in adoption.
If you find yourself struggling with a lack of support or hurtful statements from your family as you consider adoption, sit down and have a heart-to-heart talk about where these words are coming from. You will likely be surprised to discover that at the root is a very different sentiment than the one being expressed to you.
As Vice President of Lifetime Adoption, Heather Featherston holds an MBA and is passionate about working with those facing adoption, pregnancy, and parenting issues. Heather has conducted training for birth parent advocates, spoken to professional groups, and has appeared on television and radio to discuss the multiple aspects of adoption. She has provided one-on-one support to women and hopeful adoptive parents working through adoption decisions.
Since 2002, she has been helping pregnant women and others in crisis to learn more about adoption. Heather also trains and speaks nationwide to pregnancy clinics to effectively meet the needs of women who want to explore adoption for their child. Today, she continues to address the concerns women have about adoption and supports the needs of women who choose adoption for their child.
As a published author of the book Called to Adoption, Featherston loves to see God’s hand at work every day as she helps children and families come together through adoption.