If you adopted special needs- how did you tell fam/friends? — The Bump
Adoption

If you adopted special needs- how did you tell fam/friends?

We are not making our future son's special needs public on our blog or to our church or acquaintances etc (he is HIV+), but we are going to tell our family and a few close friends.  I have told three close friends and they were all very supportive, but I am very nervous to tell our family and the rest of our friends.  I don't even know really how to start the conversation.   If you adopted (or are adopting) a child with special needs, how did you tell family and friends and what sort of reaction did you get?

TTC September 2010 thru October 2011
SA February 2011: Normal
RE App. October 2011 - Recc. Clomid and IUI

Taking a break from TTC to pursue adoption

Met our 2 year old son in Russia July 2012!
Court trip October 2012
Home November 24 2012!

Back to RE Summer 2013. TTC journey continues: 

Dx DOR, endometriosis, low sperm count 
Clomid + IUI#1, #2 = BFN / IUI #3 = ???

Laparoscopy scheduled December 2013

Adding a Burden

Re: If you adopted special needs- how did you tell fam/friends?

  • Our family and friends knew that we were adopting in a large part to provide a family for a child that might otherwise not get that chance.  So from the beginning, we were open about the fact that we were only considering older children, and that we were open to certain medical issues.  By the time we found our children, it was just accepted.

    We told family and friends about M's heart condition because they would obviously know when he was in for his surgery, but we haven't really gotten into J's medical condition with many.  He's presumed to have neurofibromatosis, but we won't know for sure until he's genetically tested.  We had reason to think he may not have it, but now that we've seen him at an older age, we do think he's been appropriately diagnosed.  The simple truth is, it's no one's business.  I wouldn't share his medical conditions with others if he was my biological child, why if he's adopted?  We've only shared with family and very close friends when they've directly asked (because we aren't hiding it, we just aren't blabbing it).

    That being said, I understand that there are reasons for you sharing your child's HIV status with close family and friends.  Honestly, you may have to be prepared to explain why you are confident proceeding with the adoption and educate your family on available treatments and how difficult it is to transmit the virus.  You may have to face some people not wanting to accept your decision.  But in the end, the decision is yours, and you have to stand by your child and ask these people to do the same or not be involved.  I hope it doesn't come to that.

    As a side note, the only time I became enraged was when my always-insensitive and ignorant cousin's wife as me, "what's wrong with him?" when I told her we were adopting M.  She just couldn't fathom why a 7 year-old child might need parents if there wasn't something "wrong with him."  That was the last time I talked to her.


  • Wow, Cap'n, it's slapping time! I was just talking with a friend today about the aggressive protection of children by their mamas. 
    Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
    Lilypie Waiting to Adopt tickers
    Application approved Dec '11
    Mar '12: Homestudy interrupted by change in Uganda requirements - where do we go from here?
    After searching and searching, back with Uganda but with our homestudy agency's program.
    Homestudy complete July 19
    USCIS I-600A submitted July 20. Biometrics appointments arrived Aug 17; fingerprinted Aug 21; 171H received Sept 25th. On the wait list Oct 1st: #18. By Jan 25th, we're #13!
    Come home, baby A!
  • Loading the player...
  • Jillian, are you adopting from foster care?  If so, you may want to check, because you mzy be very limited in what you can legaally share.  I'd love to hve the, "I'm sorry, but that's confidential information" brush-off! <p> Summer, you have no ide how pisssed I got.  to make matterss worse, she asked over FB.  I defriended her without a word.  a uear later when she sen me a new friend request, I accepted, and locked her down.  I'm sure she knows, because my cousin has greater access, but I don't give a damn.  I've never likd her, and I don't have to tell her a damn thing.  Nor will I.

  • If you're adopting from foster care, you can share things Captain. Just not things that pertain to the particulars of the case - ie why the child is in foster care, names of the parents, etc. :) Family members and very close friends that we saw all the time knew a few things about the children's situation. 

    [IMG]http://i51.tinypic.com/2mc7tat.jpg[/IMG]<p>
    Oh, Savannah! Your brothers are THAT bad!</p>


    [URL=http://alterna-tickers.com][IMG]http://alterna-tickers.com/tickers/generated_tickers/0/0k4mv9dfz.png[/IMG][/URL]

    [URL=http://alterna-tickers.com][IMG]http://alterna-tickers.com/tickers/generated_tickers/b/bj6sq7umh.png[/IMG][/URL]

    [URL=http://alterna-tickers.com][IMG]http://alterna-tickers.com/tickers/generated_tickers/k/k8x3wif4y.png[/IMG][/URL]
  • Not not from foster care- internationally.  I know my state's rules and yes I can use the "it's confidential" answer, but we want to share with some friends so we have the support if/when we are in the hospital with him.  Thanks for sharing your story! 

    TTC September 2010 thru October 2011
    SA February 2011: Normal
    RE App. October 2011 - Recc. Clomid and IUI

    Taking a break from TTC to pursue adoption

    Met our 2 year old son in Russia July 2012!
    Court trip October 2012
    Home November 24 2012!

    Back to RE Summer 2013. TTC journey continues: 

    Dx DOR, endometriosis, low sperm count 
    Clomid + IUI#1, #2 = BFN / IUI #3 = ???

    Laparoscopy scheduled December 2013

    Adding a Burden
  • Thanks for letting me know.  I was under the impression that while fostering, this kind of information could not be shared.

    I completely understand wanting to share with certain people.  We did the same.  As I said, it just comes down to understanding that they may be concerned for you and may need to be reassured that you know what you are getting into.  I've found that most the time, educating family members and close friends about the specifics goes a long way.


  • Logistically, how did we tell them? With my Mom I told her each step of the way as we found out more and more info. I've worked with children with special needs for a long time and have several family members with special needs, so everybody knew it was something I was passionate about. No body in my family was surprised when they learned we were adopting, specifically a child with special needs. They cried about the pain she'd been put through, got frustrated about the "system" with me, etc. My Mom made a comment about how hurtful it was when she told somebody about her "new grand-daughter" and had her discounted because of adoption. That oddly made me feel better to know that my parents "got" what we were going through and like they were there with us even though they were physically very far away. 

    DD2 is very medically and developmentally complex and her special needs are very visible. It wouldn't have been wise to not tell people in our case, because we needed to somewhat "prep" people, but I can certainly understand not sharing it with everyone if they can't otherwise see it. Especially with HIV, where somebody might be likely to fear "catching it". I wouldn't want to put that kind of stigma on a child just entering the family. 

    With ILs we waited until we'd been told that DD was coming home and had a rough idea of a date. I think we'd done a few visitations already, but can't remember for sure. We said something like, "We have great news! You're going to be grand parents again! ... We're adopting a precious little girl. Her name is ... She's x age and super cute... " after all the questions we cheerfully said, "we're still learning about/getting to know DD, but it looks like she may need help eating, etc..... we're so excited to get to know her more" and can't wait to show you some pictures! .. We didn't list off all of her diagnosis the first conversation. Just the ones that would be most physically obvious.  

    DH and I had talked about adoption and having a special needs child extensively before we got married. I know that he'd mentioned to his parents the possibility of us caring for my sister if/when something happened to my parents, but am not sure he ever went beyond that in conversations with them. They were very jolted when we told them we were adopting. They have a very straight-forward life and his Dad made a comment about how this wasn't how they wanted their retirement to go. That it was supposed to be simple. At one point they made a comment about their "1 grand-daughter" when DD was already home with us. (TPR had occurred before she came home). We were like, "uhh... you have two grand-daughters" and changed the subject. In all honesty, I don't think they'd ever understand how hurtful their comments were. They're just not emotional/sensitive people. I think it hurt most, because DH and I met in church and growing up and I'd always looked up to his Mom for what I knew of her faith. It made me realize that people aren't always as deep in real life as they appear on the pew. They've definitely come around to DD2 much much more over the years. I think MIL is beginning to see that this as a way to honor God. FIL will say hi to her and be cordial, but I'm not sure he's held her more than once... BIL and F-SIL on DHs side are very mean-spirited about DD2 and the adoption. They've made very hurtful comments. DD2 isn't invited to be a flower girl in their wedding, though DD1 is. She's very unaware of these types of things, but its hurtful to us and her sister to have her excluded. Of course, we're bringing her anyways and she'll be dressed to the nines, but I'd have preferred for her to be invited to at least wear a special hair bow like the other girls, having matching shoes, have her name in the program, etc.  

    Aside from DHs family, I think most everybody has been positive about our adoption... 

    Its easy to get mad at peoples' stupidity sometimes, but in general I think a lot of people come across that way when they truly don't get it. In other cases, people want to help, but they don't know what to do when they see a baby with tubes/wires/physical differences. We've tried really hard to just be ourselves and allow people to see how we love DD and what we do with her. Occasionally we'll offer that they can hold her if I know she's having a good moment or "oh! she loves it if you shake this toy to make it light up" so that they can feel like they helped on some level. It sounds like your son will be higher functioning than this, but I'd just be upfront with people. "We'd love to have you visit in the hospital" or alternatively, "You can offer your support to our amazing son by _____". If you give people a concrete way to help it makes them feel good and in turn builds a connection. Also, people also like hearing what they think of as typical kid stuff. His favorite color or toys he likes to play with, etc. ... I heard a quote one time about the #1 job of a special needs parent being PR and have kept that close to heart. I try to balance the scary realities of DDs condition with positive stuff about what new milestones she's meeting. And I've learned to treat my audience according to their own personalities, instead of what I feel the need to share at the time. Some family members want to know the science of what's going on. Others just want the emotional stuff.   

    I've periodically read your blog posts and loved how involved your church family was in one of the fundraisers and how they seemed just amazingly accepting. I hope they'll be an amazing source of strength and support for you guys as you continue the journey. ...  I'm so excited for you!

    [url=http://www.thebump.com/?utm_source=ticker&utm_medium=UBB&utm_campaign=tickers][img]http://global.thebump.com/tickers/tt1393f2.aspx[/img][/url]
    [url=http://www.thebump.com/?utm_source=ticker&utm_medium=UBB&utm_campaign=tickers][img]http://global.thebump.com/tickers/ttc83d0.aspx[/img][/url]



    "In a wild sea of eyes I'd see one pair that I recognize and know that I am the luckiest"- Ben Folds
  • Captain, that's why I always told close friends and family about anything that they may need to know, especially if they were going to be interacting with the children on a regular basis. Example - one of the girls we cared for had Sensory Processing Disorder and also had potty training trauma in her previous foster home (that she was only in a week, mind you). The CW completely forgot to tell ME about the potty training issue when I tried to take her to the bathroom. She flipped out on me. And I got "Oh, by the way .... "
    [IMG]http://i51.tinypic.com/2mc7tat.jpg[/IMG]<p>
    Oh, Savannah! Your brothers are THAT bad!</p>


    [URL=http://alterna-tickers.com][IMG]http://alterna-tickers.com/tickers/generated_tickers/0/0k4mv9dfz.png[/IMG][/URL]

    [URL=http://alterna-tickers.com][IMG]http://alterna-tickers.com/tickers/generated_tickers/b/bj6sq7umh.png[/IMG][/URL]

    [URL=http://alterna-tickers.com][IMG]http://alterna-tickers.com/tickers/generated_tickers/k/k8x3wif4y.png[/IMG][/URL]
  • What's best, is to share individually, or in diads or triads.  When you share in small sections, it allows for you to explain what's going on, and allow them to ask questions. 

    In particular with HIV+ you may want to go over an emergency booklet you keep on you (of what to do if blood is present) or maybe give them a FAQ list? Reactions will vary. You'll have some that will react out of fear. That's why the FAQ is helpful so that they don't over react irrationally.  


    Remember, in the end, it's a choice that you are making.  Don't allow family to "talk you out of it" or "reason" with you.  The discussion is not to get permission, but to share your child's story and allow him to be happy, healthy and well adjusted in your family.
  • Thanks for all the advice; it really helps to read it!  MummyG- thank you for sharing your journey in such detail.  I am taking your words to heart.  :-)

    TTC September 2010 thru October 2011
    SA February 2011: Normal
    RE App. October 2011 - Recc. Clomid and IUI

    Taking a break from TTC to pursue adoption

    Met our 2 year old son in Russia July 2012!
    Court trip October 2012
    Home November 24 2012!

    Back to RE Summer 2013. TTC journey continues: 

    Dx DOR, endometriosis, low sperm count 
    Clomid + IUI#1, #2 = BFN / IUI #3 = ???

    Laparoscopy scheduled December 2013

    Adding a Burden
This discussion has been closed.
Choose Another Board
Search Boards