When your adoption is complete and you’re soaking in each moment, don’t forget these five things:
- Be an advocate for adoption.
It’s all too misunderstood, so if you have the opportunity to talk positively about it, do so. This doesn’t mean you have to tell everybody every detail of your child’s adoption, but it also means it’s not taboo to discuss general information either. You shouldn’t be scared to mention your child is adopted. It comes up more often than you think.
Women often talk about birth and breastfeeding. They may ask if you are also breastfeeding. Instead of feeling uncomfortable or out of place, just say your child is adopted, so no. Or if a neighbor comments on how tall your child is for such short parents, I see no harm in mentioning that yes, there’s a reason for that–he’s adopted. It’s okay to normalize adoption, and these examples are just one or two ways out of dozens that could open up the conversation about adoption.
- Don’t take everything personally when it comes to communication with the birth parents.
Try not to over analyze every text or email comment they make. If they seem sad or annoyed or “not themselves,” just try to understand all of the emotions they’re dealing with. It’s easy to take it personally if they don’t write back right away, but have patience and know it probably has nothing to do with you. You don’t know where they are in their grieving process. They also could just simply be busy. Show empathy.
- Know that people generally mean well.
It’s hard to not get angry when someone uses the wrong adoption language around you, but usually, it’s just because they aren’t aware. When they say “real mom,” don’t snap at them. Just say something like, “You mean biological mom?” Keep calm and know that you’ve just helped someone understand how to speak about adoption more appropriately.
- Don’t let yourself feel isolated post-adoption.
Find some local adoption groups to join. There are Facebook groups where you can chat with other adoptive parents. Better yet, sites like meetup.com have local groups where adoptive parents can meet in-person for playdates. This is great for the kids and also educational for you to hear other people’s adoption stories. They are all so different.
- Show respect for birth parents.
Now that you are a parent and probably have an open adoption, you are in the position to stand up for your child’s birth mother and father. When you hear someone speak negatively or make a sweeping generalization about birth parents, you should tell them to reevaluate their comments and give them examples from your own adopting experience as evidence as to why they may be misinformed.