Most of us who adopt spent years contemplating the decision to adopt. But some expect our families to be completely supportive of that decision immediately. We forget that we may have struggled ourselves with questions about whether or not to adopt; what age of child to adopt; what sex; or what race…. So we should give our families time to adjust to the idea of adoption, provide them with information that will help them understand our decision, give them an opportunity to express their feelings and have those feelings respected rather than challanged, and finally, forgive them for anything negative they might say or do while they adjust to the way we choose to form our families.
Below are things to keep in mind when you communicate your decision with your families and friends:
- Information: People can’t be sensitive toward something they don’t understand. Each time that you diplomatically point out a painful error that a friend, a family member, a medical person has made in referring to you or to your decision to adopt, you increase the likelihood that this person’s sensitive level will be raised to the point of her being unlikely to repeat such errors.
- Sensitivity: Just as you expect that your family members should be sensitive to your pain, you must realize that your intertility may be painful to them, too. Parents, in particular, often tend to feel guilty that they might have done something to contribute to your medical problem. As well, they shared your assumptions that grandchildren would be born who shared the family genes. Just as you mourn the potential loss of your genetic children, so do they.
- Patience: Your friends and family are at least one step behind you and your spouse in resolving intertility’s impact on your lives together. You will have spent a great deal of private time making decisions before you announce them publicly. Be prepared for the fact that when you announce your decision, particularly controversial ones, your family have not yet had the time to adjust to them as you have. They may react with shock, even fear, or revulsion. They must be given time to adjust, and you must support them in this adjustment, just as you wish them to support you in your decision. Beyond this, it is important to accept that fertile people cannot ever be expected to fully understand such a profound experience as is intertility.
- Clarity: As you work to sensitize and inform, keep your discussion simple, brief, and factual whenever possible. Most listeners, not absorbed in the daily pain of intertility as are you, are unable to absorb or deal with the heaviness of your situation at once.
You can find online support group and ask for their experience in communicating the adoption decision with their loved ones. For a list of online adoption network and resources, click here.
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