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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.

When the excitement isn't shared

For prospective adoptive parents who are excited to share the news but are met with concern or opposition, it can be a little more difficult and most likely disappointing. When you're so excited to begin the process of growing your family, you want others -- especially those who matter the most -- to share in that excitement.

I contacted Katie Prigel Sharp, LMSW, an adoptive parent, social worker and co-owner of Heart of the Matter Seminars, and asked her about the best way to approach a situation where a family member isn't as supportive as you'd like them to be about an adoption. I learned that not all prospective adoptive couples have it quite as easy as Venicia or me.

Prigel Sharp says it's not all that uncommon to encounter family members who are reluctant, concerned or even completely negative about adoption. So that's the good news if it happens to you: It happens to lots of people! Even better, Prigel Sharp adds that she has heard of many situations over the years where families weren't supportive initially, but most have happy endings. "Opposing an adoption in theory is very different than rejecting an in-the-flesh child," she notes.

How to approach opposition

So, what do you do when someone who matters doesn't react how you expect? "I usually suggest that the prospective adoptive parent truly listen to their family member's concern. Hear them out completely! Then respond to their concerns in a thoughtful, direct way," says Prigel Sharp. "A response may be as simple as, 'I know you love me and just want what's best for me. I'm going to think more about what you said and would like to send you some information that might help explain more about my view.'"

Don't forget to do just that. Prigel Sharp says to send them a few short articles or links to websites that address their concerns. That will give them the opportunity to think about the information and what it is that's bothering them. "This is usually enough to quell most family members' reservations."

Unfortunately, there are some people who just can't see past themselves to either behave in a way that is appropriate or to offer the support you need. "In extreme situations, where family members behave in ways that continue to be hurtful to the parents or child, it may be necessary to limit or eliminate contact," advises Prigel Sharp.

>>How did your family react to the news when you told tem you were adopting? If you haven't announced it yet, do you have concerns that anyone you care about will be less than supportive? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

More on adoption

Spreading awareness: National Adoption Month
How to select and adoption agency
Finding a pediatrician for your internationally adopted child

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