Adopting from foster care is a really exciting and meaningful way to add to your family. It is a life-changing step to take and it's possible your family and friends may have reservations. Because of the stigma around adopting from foster care, your network of support may be hesitant to celebrate this big step. Here are a few things to think about when you consider sharing your news.
Be aware of the stigma and misconceptions around adopting from foster care
What are some of those misconceptions? Oftentimes, people assume adoption is too expensive (adopting from foster care can be pretty close to free) or takes too long (it depends). Some people are under the impression that every youth in foster care is destructive, has too many behavioral or medical needs, or that kids in foster care have done something wrong. In reality, all of those assumptions are inaccurate and unfair. Youth enter foster care through no fault of their own and need the love and support of the right family -- just like everyone else.
For more, check out our article, Clearing up myths about adopting from foster care.
Let them know how important their support is
Ultimately, we hope that your family and friends can support you throughout this big step in your life. Even if your family has reservations, be sure to let them know just how important their support is to you. Adoption is a journey filled with ups and downs and feeling supported by friends and family is incredibly important.
Be prepared for their questions
Though every family is different, there are some common questions you may encounter. Some people will wonder why you decided to adopt from foster care instead of adopting an infant privately, others will wonder if you are worried about a variety of outcomes, what the process is like, and/or if it's expensive to adopt. These questions might seem overwhelming and intrusive at times, but they're usually coming from a place of ignorance and not ill-will. It's certainly not your responsibility to help educate everyone you know on adoption from foster care, but be aware that your family and friends may feel entitled to come to you with every question they've ever had about foster care and the adoption process.
Tell them on your own terms
There is not a right or wrong way to tell your family and friends about this personal decision. Some people prefer to tell their loved ones in the very beginning of the process so they can really take advantage of their support; others will wait until later in the process when they have more information. Whatever you decide to do is the right thing. You know your family and friends best -- make the choice when you are ready.
Even if your family and friends are super excited and supportive, offering resources to help them learn more about the process and what to expect can be helpful. You may have come across resources in your own research and it's always ok to ask your agency if they have suggestions for information you can share with friends and family. Finally, feel free to share the Northwest Adoption Exchange website so that your friends and family can take steps to educate themselves and learn about the personal stories of youth in foster care who deserve adoptive families.
Want to know some of the reactions you might get when sharing that you're planning to adopt from foster care? Check out this article on www.adopting.com, It's Different When You're Adopting.