During National Adoption Awareness Month, I will introduce you to numerous guest bloggers, highlighting many parts of the adoption journey. Today’s blog is from one of our own, Sarah Boucher, who I worked with when she was trying to adopt. Her blog addresses something extremely important for the adoption process – your tribe! I know we all struggle with who to tell and when. Maybe this will help.
By Sarah Boucher
I am often asked by my clients “when should I tell people that I am adopting?” Or “When in the process is it ok to share our news with family, friends, and employers?”
The answer to this question is as individual as each family. There will be different factors for everyone depending on your situation. The people in our lives often have their own opinions about any major life event or change. And, those opinions can be further complicated by the myths and misconceptions surrounding adoption.
You may hear the consultants at RG Adoption Consulting suggest that you build a team. When I started going through the adoption process, I did just that. First, I hired an adoption consultant (Becca Gruenspan, of course) which was one of the smartest decisions I ever made! And, then I told a few key people. Some of these people were friends who had also gone through the adoption process. Some were family and friends who I had built years of support and trust with and a few were people that maybe I had not planned on telling but did in a moment of vulnerability and connection that ended up just feeling like the right thing to do. I also recommend building a relationship with a therapist or a counselor. Having a neutral party- someone who is not family or not immediately involved, to talk to can be so helpful during the adoption process and after placement. Things will come up, and it is helpful to have someone that can be a resource for you and a sounding board.
As a single woman adopting, I was a little worried that the process would feel lonely. But, my “team” made it the opposite of that. I had friends who volunteered to write reference letters for me and friends and family who helped me take pictures and put together my profile book. It was a wonderful time. But, I also had people who I told that had disappointing responses. Some people may have had my best interest in mind, but their own fears got in the way. Or, they could not get past the idea that a single person could or should adopt. The bottom line is that I had people who I thought I could count on for support that fell short. And, that made my team of supporters even more important.
Words of fear and doubt can come from anywhere, for some people it will be your family. And, for others, you may not have support from your employer or coworkers. Our family often wants the best for us, but they just want to protect us from what could go wrong. And, employers often get scared that the person whose focus has been solely on their career may shift. But, if you have the right team of support around you, it will help you to balance all of that out.
I remember the day that I was matched with my daughter’s birth parents. I called close family and friends to share the news. The next day, a couple of my friends got together and came to my house to celebrate, bringing tons of baby girl clothes with them. I was scared and thought that maybe we should not be celebrating so soon. So much could happen in 3 months, what if they changed their minds? My friend Rachel looked at me and said something along the lines of- you should not let your fear of all of the things that can happen keep you from feeling the joy of this time. We are going to celebrate this baby and enjoy this time, and if something happens and you experience a fall-through, we will be there to help you through it.
My wish for everyone going through the adoption process is that you have at least one Rachel on your team. Rachel was the one that took me to the store to register and made me purchase that first item even though I was terrified. I still have the little baby wipe holder that I bought the day we went to Baby’s R Us to register. I keep it as a reminder to not let my fear in any situation override my joy.
There may be people who try to make an exciting time in your life more difficult. You may encounter challenges at work with a supervisor who is less than supportive, or you may find it challenging to get clear answers about FMLA or benefits. Unfortunately, these things still exist. But, if you have the support of the right people around you, and a clear vision, you will be able to navigate all of this.
Sometimes, the people in our lives let us down. They are not able to support us in the way we were hoping for. And, sometimes people in our lives step up and become the support we had no idea we needed. I have learned a lot about friendship and support from those around me that I am fortunate enough to call friends.
I can’t tell you when it is the right time for you to share your journey. But, I can tell you this. Find your tribe – the ones who will support you during challenging times and the ones who will celebrate the excitement and joy, encouraging you to push through your fears and do the same.
Sarah is an adoption consultant for RG Adoption Consulting. Click here for her full bio.