Deciding to make an adoption plan for your baby isn’t easy, but it can become even more difficult if your family disagrees with you choosing adoption. It’s normal to seek your parent’s approval when considering adoption. Seeking their support when choosing adoption because you don’t want to go through this life-altering event alone is very valid.
It may be hard to go through the adoption without having the support of the people you love. If your family is against adoption, you’re not alone. Family members disagreeing about their sons and daughters choosing adoption is common.
This guide will help if you’re struggling with unsupportive parents or other family members. If you need support right now, you can always call or text Lifetime Adoption at 1-800-923-6784.
How to Tell Your Family You’ve Chosen Adoption
There isn’t a “one size fits all” answer to “How do I tell my family I’m choosing adoption?” We suggest you reveal the news to each family member one-on-one in a private setting.
Try using “I” statements like, “I know you want the best for me, so I’m hoping you can find it in your heart to support me” or “I know that adoption is going to be the best option for both my baby and myself, in my situation.”
The first reaction you get to your adoption news isn’t how they’ll always feel about it. Brace yourself for various responses from different relatives. They might be shocked and respond with anger and disgust or with sympathy and hope. Any of those reactions are normal.
Adoption procedures were done very differently in the old days. If you find it helpful, tell your relatives what open adoption is and isn’t. Tell them you’re researching all your options and aren’t just making snap decisions.
“I wanted to be honest with some people, so I told them about my adoption plans. Pretending that I was bringing this baby home felt like a lie. People’s responses ranged from surprise to disappointment,” says a birth mother who made an adoption plan with Lifetime. “My aunt even said, ‘I know you, I don’t think you’ll be able to adopt out your baby!'”
When Family Just Doesn’t Understand
Parents who are unsupportive of your adoption plans can affect your entire adoption experience. Since adoption is such an emotional time, it is in everyone’s best interest for your close family members to provide support.
It may be that your family members and parents are thinking of adoption as it used to be. Closed adoptions of the past meant that the birth mother had her baby taken away from her and placed with the adoptive couple. She didn’t get to pick the couple, and her child grew up never knowing her.
Shares one of our birth mothers, Jessica, “My mom yelled at me that she gave up her life as it was to raise me at 17 as a single mom. She told me that by giving away my baby for adoption, I was not only selfish but also telling her I was ashamed of her! I told her my decision was about my baby and what was best for him. I wanted to give him everything in life that he deserved: two loving parents, a good education, and the resources to follow his dreams. But to my mom, it was like I was dissing her.”
Over time, Jessica’s mom realized that she could be a part of her grandson’s life, too, through open adoption. Now, the adoptive parents send Jessica’s mom updates on the boy. She even joined in on a Skype call with the adoptive family.
Your Adoption Support System
You might wonder how to turn family members who are unsupportive of adoption into ones who will be an important part of your adoption support system. Through education: ensure they understand all the benefits of open adoption and that you control your adoption plan.
Your family might be anxious about you choosing adoption based on misinformation or an obsolete view of the process. In addition, they probably want to protect you from the emotional issues that may come with choosing adoption.
Often, unsupportive family members come from a place of love and concern for you. Let them know you’re in charge of every decision surrounding your child’s adoption. You can inform them that:
- You select your baby’s parents, and if you’re OK with it, your parents can even help you choose the family.
- You can receive financial assistance from the adoptive parents you choose to cover your adoption expenses, such as medical, legal, and counseling expenses. In many cases, you can also receive help with living expenses to help you with utilities, rent, and other bills.
- You’ll be able to achieve goals that wouldn’t be possible while raising a child – Adding a child to your life could put your dreams of earning a college degree or starting a career on hold indefinitely. No matter what your reason for choosing adoption is, make sure your parents understand how adoption will positively impact your life.
- You determine the amount of contact – You can get updates on your child as they grow in whichever method you prefer, whether through emails, letters, pictures, social media posts, visits, or a combination of these. The adoptive parents can also update your parents by sending pictures and updates on their grandchild.
Your family members’ opposition to adoption probably comes from concern for you. They may change their minds after they learn more about open adoption and how the process works.
Tell them how important they are to you and how much their support would mean to you right now. But even if they don’t come around to accept your decision, you’ll never be alone in your adoption process. You will always have the support of your Adoption Coordinator, fellow birth moms, and your child’s adoptive family.
In fact, you’ll always have help and emotional support when you go through the adoption process with Lifetime Adoption. Our caring adoption coordinators will help you from the moment you first contact us all the way through to making an adoption plan and completing the adoption itself. We are always here for you.
You can also find support through peer support counseling from a birth mother, which is a woman who has placed her child for adoption. When you’re unsure what to do or feel, talking to a birth mother gives you insight from somebody who has been in your shoes before. This person has navigated the same waters you feel lost in now and can provide tips on dealing with unsupportive family members. They can give you an understanding you cannot get from anybody else.
Pressure to Parent
Many birth mothers have shared with Lifetime that their family members tried to pressure them to parent. Adoption is an emotional concept to accept, and your parents may feel like they will “lose” a grandchild. It’s important to explain what adoption is like so you can help them accept your decision and repair any strained relationships.
No one can force you into any decision you’re uncomfortable with, no matter how old you are. You’re the only one who can decide what is best for your baby. Adoption is a complex but loving decision; you don’t deserve for others to make you feel bad about it. If you are feeling pressure to become a parent before you are ready, explain what modern adoption is actually like.
You might choose to answer questions like “How could you give your baby away?” with something like, “How could I not? Good moms put the needs of their children before their own needs. I want the very best for my baby, but I can’t provide that for him right now. I don’t feel right about dragging my son along for this struggle.”
Adoption is always an option, even if you have unsupportive parents or other family members. If you’re comfortable with it, you can see if they have any questions about adoption. They can even speak with your Adoption Coordinator at Lifetime if needed.
At the end of the day, you’re in charge of your decision. You have the right to make whichever choice will be the best for you and your child. The family members who genuinely love you unconditionally will come around at some point, no matter how they initially felt about it.
Lifetime Adoption is always available to help you face unsupportive friends and family members. If you’re making an adoption plan and need advice on how to talk to someone, call or text us at 1-800-923-6784.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on June 2, 2017, and has since been updated.
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.