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How do you tell your family you're adopting?

Laura Willard is a law school grad who has successfully avoided using her education for eight years and counting. She's a wife and an adoptive mom to two kids. Motherhood is the best job she never knew she wanted so much until she had it...

Sharing the news

I recently received an email from someone who asked me how I shared the news that I was adopting with my family and friends. It is a great question and something that every adopting couple or individuals must address. Keep reading for different approaches to sharing the news that you’re adopting.

woman sharing news

Once you've decided to adopt, you probably want to share the news. Do you make a big announcement, send out an email, tell a few people and let the word spread or keep it quiet until the last minute? Furthermore, how do you handle it if someone in your family is less than supportive? Keep reading for my experience and that of another adoptive parent, as well as some expert advice.

My experience

I can't remember exactly how we "announced" our adoption plans. In fact, I'm not even sure whether we announced them at all. We knew we were going to adopt for a long time, so when we were ready to start a family, I think we told those who were closest to us initially, then shared with others as time went on. I suppose in the end, news spread as it does when someone is expecting through pregnancy -- family shared with more family, friends with more friends.

We didn't experience any stated opposition, and if anyone thought it was a "bad idea" or had any major concerns about our adoption plans, they didn't voice them to us. I answered many questions about the process, the country and, after we received a referral, what we knew of the child that would become ours.

I was very naïve about adoption in general in the beginning. I suppose I was also naïve in assuming that everyone is supportive of people who choose to adopt. Fortunately, that part was easy for us.

Venicia's experience

Venicia and her husband are adoptive parents in Durham, North Carolina, who first attempted to have biological children. Early on, they only told a few people that they were trying to conceive, and those who knew were excited. As time wore on, they shared their fertility struggles with more friends and family. However, after unsuccessful fertility treatments, Venicia and her husband stopped trying and took a break.

"I had always thought our family would have children by adoption at some point. I had never really communicated that to a lot of people, only because I was so focused on the biological aspect," she says. "We researched adoption, every facet and book and blog I could get my hands on, even the not-so-cuddly ones. When we told our parents, I had already read up on how to tell them and I was ready for some backlash."

However, when Venicia shared the news, the reaction was far better than she'd anticipated. "Everyone was supportive, for the most part; there was mostly concern for funding it and the birthmother swooping in the middle of the night to 'steal her baby back.' So I made sure that if I was going to have a successful adoption, part of it had to be educating those around me who would be in the kiddo's life. I started a blog and answered questions as best I could -- all for the sake of everyone traveling with us down this road."

Venicia invested time and effort into educating family and friends. "I informed people about funding options and then about adoption laws…I hashed and rehashed with my family and friends about adopting ethically, making sure no one was coerced or no baby was stolen. I think these things helped," she says.

Overall, Venicia and her husband took a very practical and straightforward approach: "We simply wanted to be honest with people. Start talking and those who care will listen…those who don't may eventually," she explains. "Be ready -- everyone knows something and everybody has some sort of myth or truth, but mostly it'll be a myth. And know there are thousands of families just like yours, one click away. That's the truth."

>>Keep reading for expert advice on how to handle unsupportive friends and family

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