When you decide to adopt, one of your goals as a parent is to ensure that your child grows up in a loving environment. As you are busy preparing to meet the requirements for adoption, you should also look towards how you can help your family understand and accept your act of love in adopting a child.
Oftentimes, even the most well-meaning loved ones or friends can say and do insensitive things that can hurt you and your child. Even in today’s enlightened times; there are still people that do not completely understand your choice to adopt or the circumstances upon which you came to that decision. This ranges from judging the birthparent that chose adoption to hearing stories about adopted children or making your family and your child feel uncomfortable. The struggle becomes more real for parents who decide to adopt transculturally.
Here are some ways to navigate this complicated path towards full and happy acceptance of your decision to adopt:
– Try to understand where your loved ones are coming from. The road to understanding is a two-way path. Make the effort to get to the bottom of their apprehensions or refusal to accept your decision. If you dig deeper into a loved one’s objections, you may be surprised to see his own struggles that lead him to act that way. Instead of being quick to take offense, learn to take things in stride and see that sometimes some statements are made because people don’t quite know how to talk about it and are curious about the circumstances that led to your adoption.
– Help them understand where you are coming from. As you try to understand your relatives and friends, lovingly show that this is one of the best decisions you have made and that your family has been changed for the better because of this decision. Even if your child did not come from your own body, he is your child in every real sense. Gently remind them that the decision to adopt is yours and your spouse’s to make. It is not something that you put up for voting among relatives and friends.
– Counter misinformation with information. Oftentimes, the objections and fears loved ones may have springs from misconceptions. As such, educate your loved ones so as to enrich his knowledge about adoption. One aspect of this is to teach them the appropriate language to use. For instance, instead of using “given up” or “put up for adoption”, you can say that the birthparents chose adoption for the child. Instead of saying that you are the adoptive parents, they can simply refer to you as the child’s parents.
– Be firm but compassionate when dealing with hurtful comments. Make it known that you will not disregard hurtful comments, especially ones directly addressed to your child. You can use the sandwich method, which uses two positive, affirming statements that bookend an assertive statement in the middle. You can begin by recognizing a positive point about your loved one, then call out the negative behavior. You can end this by asserting another positive insight about the loved one. For instance, if you are struggling with a loved one who keeps on giving criticisms about your child’s appearance (due to his different ethnic background), you can say, “I understand that you desire what’s best for my child. However, your comments about his appearance are hurtful to him. I will not allow him to have to hear that kind of harmful talk from people he loves. Why not build a strong, loving relationship with him by celebrating his cultural heritage? I know that you are a loving and understanding person and I know you are able to take those steps towards appreciating my child for who he is.”
– Prepare yourself and your children from possible encounters. Get into the habit of assuring your children of your unconditional love and reminding them that what made you into a family is a wonderful gift that all of you are blessed with. With this foundation by which your children can stand on, they are more prepared to deal with insensitive remarks and thoughtless actions.
– Model a positive response for your children. Your positive response to criticisms or thoughtless remarks will be an example to your children of how they will respond when they meet the same kind of actions. You can employ humor to diffuse tense moments as you strive to positively influence others about adoption.
For more support and insights about preparing your extended family for adoption, look to your adoption agency for more resources and training. A Act of Love Adoptions is an adoption agency that helps parents become more prepared and equipped for dealing with all things covering adoption.