Adoption support groups can be a wonderful resource for hopeful parents at any stage of their adoption journey. For example, you might have just begun researching domestic adoption, or you could be in the process of waiting for a birth mother to select you as her baby’s parents. Or you may have finalized your child’s adoption and need help navigating adoptive parenting.
No matter your stage in the adoption process, an adoption support group can provide encouragement! Group members can learn about and explore issues they may have in common. They also have group discussions that allow members to share problem-solving strategies.
What to Look for in a Support Group
First and foremost, you’ll need an adoption support group for adoptive parents that fuels hope and promotes a healthy, supportive environment amongst its members. The last thing that you need when you’re struggling with your adoption wait is a toxic, viral environment that is driven by fear or anger. Avoid an adoption support group that seems to fuel dread, fear, resentment, and a “misery-loves-company” mindset!
Support groups should make each member feel accepted no matter where they are in their adoption journey. It’s good if you feel encouraged by what you hear.
Confidentiality is also a major factor; does the support group respect confidentiality in adoption? By confidentiality, we mean that the members don’t gossip outside of the group, respect birth mother privacy, and avoid oversharing details that should be kept between the individuals involved in one child’s adoption.
An adoption support group for adoptive parents should aim to share correct and modern info about adoption. Avoid groups that seem to feed upon adoption stereotypes, or let outdated stories, or unusual circumstances, dictate the norm for the group when it comes to supporting each other’s stories/experiences.
With that said, the group’s moderator(s) shouldn’t claim to be adoption experts. Experience is one thing, but hearsay and taking professional advice from peers won’t be helpful to your specific adoption process.
Find an adoption support group that encourages legal adoption practices. Some fringe groups share what they call “shortcuts” to an adoption. Avoid these groups. They could be a scam. Instead, find a support group that provides accurate, legal information.
You’ll want to seek out an adoption support group whose members celebrate each other’s victories. As “I Am Fruitful” puts it, one family’s victory in welcoming their baby home is not taking away from YOUR future blessing. Also, you need an adoption support group that’s understanding because not every family is called to the same type of adoption as another. The goal of the support group should be to encourage others to learn, not to judge or criticize another family’s adoption goals.
If you could use extra support during your adoption journey, make sure to check out these three positive and encouraging bloggers/pages:
I Am Fruitful
Moms in the Making
Grace While We Wait
Please keep in mind that these groups also encourage people who are still trying to conceive.
Why do adoptive couples join adoption support groups?
If you could use extra emotional support while waiting for your baby, you might wonder if an adoption support group is right for you. Here are ten common reasons why hopeful adoptive parents join adoption support groups:
1. “How do we get started?!”
You feel overwhelmed by the adoption process and just don’t know where to begin.
2. “We’re not on the same page.”
You want to adopt, but your partner isn’t sure or doesn’t want to, so you’re seeking advice from others who may have been in the same situation before their adoption journey.
3. “How will we afford adoption?”
You aren’t sure if you can afford to adopt and want to hear how other couples made it work.
4. “What if we have a fall-through or a reclaim?”
You are nervous to meet a birth mother and are afraid she will change her mind.
5. “My parents want grandchildren, so they say we should adopt. But I’m not sure.”
You’re facing pressure from your family and/or friends to adopt.
6. “Our friends just don’t understand what we’re dealing with…”
You need to talk to other people who understand the ups and downs of adoption.
7. “I want to connect with other adoptive couples.”
To form friendships with other adoptive parents.
8. “We want him to grow up knowing other children who were adopted.”
You want your child to meet other adopted children.
9. “What should we do when our daughter does that?”
You need to talk to other adoptive parents about the unique challenge of raising an adopted child.
10. “We need tips on communicating with our child’s birth parents.”
You would like to get advice from other adoptive parents on how to navigate your open adoption relationship with your child’s birth parents.
These groups are a great place to connect with other adoptive families, share experiences, and ask questions. You might find a support group within driving distance, but there are also many groups that take place entirely online.
How do we find a support group?
The North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) has a parent group database that contains almost 900 adoption-related support groups from across the U.S. Visit the NACAC’s Find a Parent Group page to search for an adoption support group near you.
You can find adoption support groups online by performing a Google search for “adoption support group near ___.” Fill in the blank with the name of the city you live. If you live in a very small town, try expanding your search by typing in the nearest city.
Child Welfare Information Gateway
The Child Welfare Information Gateway’s website has a National Foster Care & Adoption Directory Search function. Just visit ChildWelfare.gov/nfcad. When searching through the Child Welfare Information Gateway’s database, first select your state and then make sure to check the box which says “Kinship, Foster Care and Adoption Support Groups.”
You might find adoption support groups on Facebook or other social media sites. Our advice with Facebook groups is that if their posts leave you annoyed, feeling ignored, criticized, or anxious about your adoption, just leave the group. Some churches are starting to offer adoption support groups/ministries for hopeful parents as well, so make sure to check in at your church.
Your Adoption Agency
If you’re a contracted Lifetime adoptive family, remember to check in with your Adoption Coordinator and attend our frequently-held webinars. Hearing questions asked by other waiting adoptive parents, discussions, and stories from adoptive couples will greatly help you on your journey to adopt a baby. It’ll also help you feel less alone on your adoption journey; you are truly a part of an entire adoption community!
This article was originally published on October 20, 2015, and has since been updated.
Founder of Lifetime Adoption, adoptive mom, adoption expert, and Certified Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P).
Since 1986, adoption expert Mardie Caldwell has been dedicated to bringing couples and birth parents together in order to fulfill their dreams.
“Many years ago, I was also searching for a child to adopt. We didn’t know where or how to get started. Through research, determination, and a prayer, our dream of a family became reality. I started with a plan, a notebook, assistance from a caring adoption consultant and a lot of hard work; this was my family I was building. We had a few heartaches along the way, but the pain of not having children was worse!
Within weeks we had three different birth mothers choose us. We were overwhelmed and delighted. Many unsettling events would take place before our adoption would be finalized, many months later. Little did I know that God was training and aligning me for the adoption work I now do today. It is my goal to share with our families the methods and plans which succeed and do not succeed. I believe adoption should be affordable and can be a wonderful “pregnancy” for the adoptive couple.
I have also been on both sides of infertility with the loss of seven pregnancies and then conceiving by new technology, giving birth to a healthy daughter. I have experienced first-hand the emotional pain of infertility and believe my experience allows me to serve your needs better.
It is my hope that for you, the prospective parents, your desire for a child will be fulfilled soon.”