Dear Family, Here Are a Few Things We Need You To Know (An Open Letter To Families of Hopeful Adoptive Couples)
To Our Beloved Families,
We have decided to grow our family by adoption! We understand you don’t have much exposure to adoption and it’s often misunderstood. We understand you are unfamiliar with the subject and may feel upset or uncomfortable with our decision. Or perhaps you feel as overjoyed as we do! We invite you to ask us questions or express your curiosities and we’ll answer what we can although there are many unknowns for us, too. We know you may not always understand our decisions or understand the process and that is okay. Although the decision to adopt is ours alone, the comfort that a supportive family can provide through the turbulent process is of great value. We want to talk openly and discuss expectations up front to relieve all of us from having to do so during these highly emotional and stressful times that we know lie ahead. We know this may not have been the way you had envisioned of becoming grandparents, aunts, uncles. Most of all, we love you immensely and graciously ask for your unconditional support during a time we know will be difficult and emotionally taxing. Here’s a few things you should know and prepare for as we pursue our dreams of adopting.
- You don’t have to agree with our decision. We’ve already made the decision to adopt and are confident in our choice. If you disagree, kindly keep it to yourself. We feel excited and ask for your love and support throughout this process.
- You may feel like you’re missing out on pregnancy. Maybe you’ve dreamt of hearing the heartbeat of your grandchild for the first time or seeing a tiny hand via a grainy sonogram picture. You may feel sad that your niece or nephew won’t look like you or share your DNA. These feelings are valid and hard. Know we’ll include you as much as we can and when we feel appropriate but the expecting family and our family come first and these situations can be very emotional and sensitive. We will always work hard to respect the expectant family’s wishes and boundaries during the pregnancy.
- We love you but you won’t be invited to the hospital. This is perhaps the most emotional and sensitive time in the adoption process – when the baby is born. Even if we have had a relationship with the expectant mother for several months, the baby is not our child until after TPR (termination of parental rights) papers have been signed. Depending on state laws, this could be hours, days, or even weeks after birth – even if we are the ones primarily caring for baby. Because this is such a sensitive time, we will not ask you to be at the hospital and it may be several days before we’ll be able to allow family to see baby. The birthmother could, at any time prior to TPR being signed, change her mind and decide to parent and that decision is rightfully hers. We would love your texts and calls to ask us how we are doing but please understand if we can’t provide you with pictures or much information due to legal and privacy reasons.
- We may need some time to ourselves after baby is born. We don’t get to experience a 9-month long pregnancy to connect and bond with our child. We don’t get to feel kicks and sing songs to our child while in the womb. When we meet our baby for the first time, we’re meeting (and falling completely in love with) a total stranger. Please understand if we decide to take some time to ourselves and get to know and bond with our child before allowing visitors. We are not trying to keep you away. We’re only doing our best to bond with our child and create a strong foundation that our fast-growing relationship will be built on. Aside from being elated and exhausted, we may also be simultaneously dealing with legal matters, paperwork, custody orders and maintaining a relationship with the birth family during these first many days/weeks that can be very emotional for us. We’re navigating many new things at once. We’ll let you know when we’re ready for visitors and you can snuggle and love on our little one for the rest of your life!
- Please ask permission before you announce or post pictures of our child. The adoption process is delicate. Due to legal and privacy reasons, please never post a picture or announce the birth of our child unless we’ve provided you with permission. We must ensure that it is legally okay to do so and that we respect our birthfamily and child when posting anything publicly.
- There’s a good chance we’ll have some form of open relationship with the birthfamily. We will likely keep in contact with our child’s birthfamily. We may send pictures, Facetime, or even plan visits with them as we feel comfortable. There is no rule book for an open adoption and it will surely change over time. But our goal is to have a safe and healthy relationship with the birthfamily in which we feel will ultimately benefit our child. You may feel threatened by this relationship because you’re unfamiliar with it. But we assure you, our child could never be loved and cherished by too many people. There is space and love for everyone.
- We won’t allow you (or anyone else) to talk rudely about our child’s birthfamily. We don’t always understand the decisions a birthmother or birthfather makes. We don’t know their story in its entirety or everything that lead them to this point. But their life and choices are never ours to judge. Afterall, they’ve given us the most precious gift. We love them unconditionally – even when it’s hard and we see things differently. They are a piece of our child. They are now a piece of you. Accept and love them as they are.
- Here are some ways you can support us. Even if you don’t feel included, know that we need you and are trying to include you in every way we can. We would be grateful to receive your support – in texts, phone calls, or just time together. Feel free to ask us questions and we’ll be as open as we can. Buy baby outfits (gender neutral, for now), ask if we need help getting together the nursery or installing a car seat. Organize a small baby shower for us and help us make a registry, if you’d like. Adoption is rather expensive and we may need help organizing a fundraiser or event. We’d rather focus on all the small celebrations of welcoming a child even if we don’t get to experience a normal pregnancy. Although there are many unknowns and hard times ahead, we are excited and beaming with love for a child we haven’t yet met, wherever he/she may be and we’d love you to join in on this excitement, too!