Coming to terms with adoption and explaining it to your family — The Bump
Adoption

Coming to terms with adoption and explaining it to your family

I have always felt that at some point in my life I would adopt a child, it was just something I wanted to do in addition to having biological children. My grandmother never had a biological child, she fostered and/or adopted 17 children in her lifetime. This inspired me to adopt as well.
Then about 5 years ago my aunt adopted 2 children from Columbia and it's been a very rough road for her. The children have mental and behavioral troubles that they were not aware of prior to the adoption and my aunt was just not the person you would expect to be able to handle it. Our family has never faced a disability of any form in a child. Many other family members now say she is "in over her head" and almost everyone's general position on adoption has shifted. It was something to be happy about but now they all seem to think it's a stupid idea.
I have never given up my dream of adoption though, and recently we are facing a very real possibility that I will never be able to carry a biological child to term. So we are at the very beginning stages of "what if we chose to adopt right now".... and while part of me is extremely excited about it a little voice tells me that I may not have my family's support... I want more than anything for my family to be excited about bringing a child into our lives, I want them to connect to that child as if it were biological.... I know I will, but it's my parents and cousins and aunts and uncles that I'm worried about the child having a strained relationship with... and it would never be the child's fault. It would simply be based on the opinions that were formed after seeing what my aunt faces on a daily basis. I want the opportunity for that opinion to change and in order for that opportunity to present itself I would have to put a child at risk of being shunned by the family even if they are a perfectly "normal" child. And if the child did face emotional, physical, mental or behavioral issues then it would be even worse... my family is very close, for example we all live on the same road and have all worked in the family business for the last 3 generations. So this is not a topic that would be easily avoided.... I guess my question would be; did you face adversity from your family when choosing adoption? Were they able to move past those feelings and bond with the child? If not, how do you handle it? I know we have so much to offer a child and I want to be a parent more than anything, I know it won't be easy but I never want a child to feel unwanted by anyone in our family. How do you change their opinions? How do you prepare your extended and immediate family for something like this? Thanks in advance for any and all advice.
alanna3622

Re: Coming to terms with adoption and explaining it to your family

  • We faced adversity when deciding to foster. From friends & family.

    Then one of our fosters became adoptable (we didn't start out this with the goal of adoption) but it fell through. They had let their guard down too much. Walls flew up with the next adoptable child. They'll believe it and be more supportive if adoption is finalized.

    Ours have an issue with blood. When you love the kid blood ties mean nothing. They don't "get it". They keep asking for a bio.

    I want to warn you though that disabilities are high chance in even an infant. Every infant / toddler we've fostered had drug/alcohol or neglect & accompanying sensory issues. I know of a private adoption of an infant picked up at hospital that has full blown FASD. It doesn't matter to us. We feel more equipped to help a special needs child than our friends seem to be doing with their birth kids. LOL
  • Thank you for your response. And I agree that a special needs circumstance is very common. I've been watching the websites of some local adoption agencies for a couple months. There are hundreds of kids but there has never been a single child's profile posted that wasn't special needs in some way. We would not care either way, I would adopt every single one of them if I could! My husband and I just want to be parents. I know his family would support us no matter what but I just struggle with the idea of my family not being comfortable with it especially when it comes the the "blood" thing... I know several of our family members don't feel as if my aunts adopted children "count" when it comes to things like handing down family heirlooms or inheritances ... they feel as if the kids shouldn't be given those things because they aren't "blood related"... I just don't want any child to feel left out or like they aren't worthy of my family's love. I guess we have some work to do and lots of talks before adoption becomes a reality...thanks again!
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  • @AngelAccaliasMommy I think this is a very common situation. A lot of adoption literature focuses on evaluating the support system that is there for the adoptive parents and warns of the need to look really closely at what is meant by "support". Most friends and family will not get it, unless you happen to be part of a specialized group (for example, a religious group that embraces adoption as part of their faith).

    We ended up resolving to do it all ourselves, and anything we did get from family would then be gravy.

    I know that this won't stop you from worrying. But what might help a little is that it is very easy for people to be critical during the idea stage -- much much harder to be a naysayer when you actually have welcomed c a little one into your home.
  • I know exactly how you feel. My family is very Christian and don't accept my lifestyle because I am a lesbian. My wife has a son and we have adopted two other children, but my family doesn't accept them as my children and don't treat them like they do my sisters bio child. It sucks because it breaks your heart when your children want so badly to be included, but your family treats them like they don't even belong to them. I hope one day maybe they can move past their preconceived notions and be more accepting, but I honestly don't see that happening so we just do everything ourselves and whatever little help they give us is just icing on top. Maybe once your family actually sees the child they will be more accepting and supporting. Good luck.
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