How do you announce your adoption plans?

Updated Oct 12 2015
meggyfin
Offbeat Home & Life runs these advice questions as an opportunity for our readers to share personal experiences and anecdotes. Readers are responsible for doing their own research before following any advice given here... or anywhere else on the web, for that matter.
Welcome Home adoption announcement by Minted.
Welcome Home adoption announcement by Minted.
My husband and I just decided and made the first step to adopt a child. This is a super exciting time in our life, and I'd like to share it with people. But I feel like a simple Facebook post just isn't the right way or doesn't do the announcement justice.

There is just so much different kind of baggage/questions with our decision. Even the people I've told face to face, people I trust, have questioned our decision. I feel like people don't ask these kinds of questions when people announce their pregnancy.

I'm wondering if any offbeat readers have any suggestions/feedback/or advice on announcing that you are adopting a child? -Laura

I have a suggestion… People send out pregnancy announcements, why not send out adoption announcements? Mailing something out is personal, and it's also a one-way convo! We're adopting a mother fucking kid, your opinion on the matter isn't necessary.

What about asking someone who isn't being weird about your decision to throw you an adoption shower? If you make the announcement with a party, people can't help but be celebratory.

Besides parties and fancy cards, what are the ways you adoptive parents announced your happy news to a potentially dubious audience?

  1. I want to say two things. First, I am so glad this question appeared on here, because I have been wondering the same thing recently. We don't know anyone who has adopted, so we have no experience with what other people do (even if we cared, I supposed). And second, I love the suggestions you gave, Megan! Thank you! 🙂

  2. Congratulations, what a wonderful thing to do and what an amazing chapter to be starting in your life!

    One thing that occurs to me is that people are in general better with things that are happening right now or which have already happened than with things that might be happening, or not happening yet, especially when they are things they don’t (or thought they didn’t) approve of or have views on. My now parents in law struggled when my wife came out to them because they just couldn’t imagine what it would be like for their daughter to bring a woman home but when faced with the reality, ie when they were shown it rather than told about it, they got it.

    Disclaimer: I have not adopted myself but have provided an adoption reference for close friends (a same sex couple) and was closely involved in their process. Much like most people trying to conceive they didn’t announce until there was something to announce, until they knew their child was coming to live with them. They didn’t keep the process secret but really only spoke about it to close family and friends during the process. I’m not sure what stage you are at and I’m not at all saying this is something that should be kept a secret as such, but I would say bear in mind that when you announce something you can’t control the responses you get. Therefore I think timing is very important here, think about the atmosphere you want to go through the far from straightforward adoption process in (and who in your life is likely to affect that) and how you, personally, deal with that kind of thing.

    I take your point that there are things specific to adoption but there is a tonne of posts on offbeat families about the deluge of unwanted advice, decision questioning etc that people receive on announcing a pregnancy too. Basically announcing anything, going public about anything you are doing in your life, however you do it, makes people feel (rightly or wrongly) that they have a right to get involved, offer opinions etc and it kind of never stops, epically where children are involved. As far as I’m concerned they don’t have a right to in fact but it does mean that by announcing you have to be prepared to deal with that, not put up with it, but you will have to deal with it. Choose and time your battles well, your energy is precious.

    • "Much like most people trying to conceive they didn’t announce until there was something to announce, until they knew their child was coming to live with them."

      This is very much what came to my mind as well. When couples go about conceiving (whether in a traditional or non-traditional way) and even for several weeks/months after they are successful, they typically keep things relatively quiet.

      I understand your excitement to announce, and that is great! But I think whether you're trying to conceive or starting the process of adopting, there are so many unknowns that just starting the process doesn't warrant a formal announcement in my book. It will be tough, but I think easier all around if you wait until you have some firm news to announce. It would be harder to announce and then encounter significant barriers along the way that pushes the actual arrival of your child years into the future.

      • Waiting prospective adoptive parent here (approved by state and agency: just waiting for a first/birth family to pick us!)
        I'm going to disagree with the above commenters. We've been in "the pool" for 19 months and just did a FB announcement. A couple reasons why:
        1. We have been fairly open about it in person, so it leads to some confusion when it comes up and some people don't know about it. I've been collecting newborn/ baby stuff from friends as well, so it has led to confusion when friends not in the know see me placing dibs on baby gear up for sale from mutual friends on FB. The system of who knows who doesn't gets confusing when you have a big community. And were quite open about big stuff in our lives in general.
        2. We are planning an open adoption and working with an agency that centers the entire adoption triad (birth family, child/adoptee, adoptive family) and a culture of hospitiousness and openness. After thinking about it awhile, I realized this applied to being open about the fact that a child might literally appear and become part of our family overnight- rather than the culture of secrecy I feel is engendered by some of the comments here. (Certainly if/when we enter planning with a specific birth family, we won't be announcing that, for the reasons others have said: confidentiality, respect of their privacy, and the possibility of disruption.)
        3. TBH we have a bunch of friends who are pregnant right now and though I have grieved the whole not being pregnant and parenting our genetic child thing, I WAS grieving the lack of community recognition, celbration, planning, and support you get from the milestones like pregnancy announcement, Baby shower and knowing an approximate timeline. I was seeing friends get offered baby stuff while I furtively sought out hand me downs for a newborn in case of a "stork drop," That didnt feel right for some of the reasons I listed in #2.
        4. A friend of ours was very open in her community and on FB about her adoption process through our agency and it resulted in her being connected with her son via a friend of a friend not seen in decades via FB. This strongly encouraged me that openness about the fact that were in the process could be a good thing.

        Of course, your mileage may vary. People ask/make conversation about it. Even though I'm tired/impatient of waiting, I welcome and appreciate my friends saying "so how's the adoption? Any news?" Because it makes me feel appreciated and supported. But it might be trigger for other people who feel more sensitive or re grieving the process more, or if you're in a sensitive case like a foster adopt situation. Also we were very clear in our announcement, there is no specific baby, and a specific baby may show up tomorrow or may show up a year from now, so it was clear that this general thing looms large on our life (we have 7 months conbined of leave saved up by minimizing vacations, we have a crib and a changing table and a bassinet and a co sleeper, I knit baby things, we are on a daycare wait list, I'm preparing to breastfeed) even though there is no heir apparent, as it were. 🙂

        • Oh yeah … In our case, I do agree with the waiting for a party/celebration/shower type thing til after a placement is finalized. I was at a baby shower this weekend and I could definitely see opening a bunch of presents of adorable baby things as triggering if you're struggling with the process or anxious about the wait and theres not a specific child you're planning on or already started parenting. In our case I feel most comfortable not investing a lot in a basic layette (again, collecting hand me downs) and hoping/trusting that we'll have a proper celebration when we begin parenting. Again YMMV.

  3. My colleague sent an email entitled "Belated 'baby' news" to our staff mailing list.

    "B and E are pleased to announce the arrival of K. K arrived on [date] and weighed around 10Kgs. For those of you worried by the weight, he's adopted (so you don't need to worry about B.)
    As I've been asked a few questions by people, I thought I'd try and answer the more common ones here:-"

    He then went on to answer the following questions with a sentence or short paragraph.
    How old is he? / Did he just get delivered to the house? / How is he settling in? / What is he like? / What does he call you? / When can we meet him?

    It was perfect because it explained a bit about the process (which only a few people would have been familiar with) and gave a little introduction to their son and their new life together. I imagine that it also gave him a bit of a buffer – a "Read the FAQ" if you will – to hold back the most eager/nosy of colleagues.

  4. I have not adopted personally, but have seen and been involved an a couple adoptions by close friends or family. One person sent out a 'baby' announcement similar to the one shown above saying when the future child was expected to arrive and be adopted. Another person sent out a letter once they were approved for the adoption and had a specific child(ren) placed with them. They sent the letter to close family and friends explaining their choice and the reasons why they were adopting, when they would go to get the children, the remainder of the process, how others could help, etc. I have also seen people send a similar letter that also includes a request to have people help with funding the over-seas adoption process. Like Stripey said, I would suggest just having a few very close friends or family that know about the initial adoption process, as it can be grueling and long. Then, announce to everyone once things are more definite and you are getting close(r) to having a child placed with you. Good luck!!

  5. I don't know anyone who has adopted, nor have I adopted myself. However, whether you are giving birth or adopting a child, you are making a new addition to your family which is monumental and life-changing. I would send announcements once the child arrives. I might personally forgo an announcement saying you'll be adopting because sometimes adoptions fall through, and that being said, I never sent pregnancy announcements, I just told people. But I would definitely tell people ahead of time you are adopting, and then maybe have a handy little card with some FAQs on it to hand the person should they have questions.

    And then I would totally throw a rad party to welcome the new addition. I don't think it even matters what age the child is when you adopt. A party is a great way to welcome any new addition to your family.

    • I would disagree about the after party. A newly adopted child has so much to adjust to already. Our friends were eager to celebrate but we took the opportunity to educate them on building an attachment, cocooning etc. very early on. We started telling folks we were planning to adopt (and that it might take weeks, months or years for it to happen) when we finished our home study. It allowed for a lot of the bigger discussions to take place without children (which I feel is very important). When it looked like we had a match we told family and close friends. One friend really wanted there to be a shower so that lead way to even more conversation about why before, rather than post placement. The children were placed with us earlier this week and I'm so grateful that we don't have to explain the sudden appearance of kids very often!

  6. If you're going to explain why you chose to adopt, remember that people who make their own baby (DIY baby?) rarely ever explain WHY they're having a DIY baby. They just say "I'm pregnant!" and people fill in the blanks with "Oh they must want a family". For some reason, people can't do this with adoption even though it's exactly the same thing: Making a family because you want one.

    It's not appropriate to process whatever feelings or events lead to your decision in announcements or FAQs. First, you're making a family and even though people want to deconstruct your reasons, you don't owe them that. You DO owe your kid a sense of security and total validation that they are wanted simply because they are. Second, remember that whatever you say or share now will probably be relayed to or found by your kid at some point. I have no idea why my parents adopted me except that they wanted me. For someone who has some pretty deep-seated issues about inherent self worth, not having reasons has been an absolute corner stone for me. I don't know or care about whatever reasons they had for adopting me. If I ever do want to know, I can ask them. I probably won't, though. I'm really glad I didn't have anything but an adoption announcement. If there was an FAQ, I would read it, and it would probably mess me up a little.

    If someone has some reason to doubt that a kid you get through adoption is less deserving of being welcomed and loved than a DIY baby, that's a one-on-one conversation that you don't owe them (but can have).

    Just remember: Kid first.

    • As another adult adoptee, I'd like to support this post. People make families in a lot of different ways. People can be assholes in a lot of different ways as well. Unfortunately, kids and parents can be affected by both factors. Research on adoption seems to support that adoptees often face challenges, as noted above, regarding self-worth and where they fit. As an adult adoptee currently in therapy for those very issues, had I physical proof that my parents provided written material to justify my fit in their family, I can only imagine that it would have negatively impacted my sense of self. There are ways we can share information with others interested in the process, though, without that same sense of justification for our decisions – if that makes sense.

      My parents received confirmation of my placement just a few weeks before they brought me home as an infant. They had enough time to gather the necessary items required for safety and initial comfort. After we were all settled in, a friend threw a party, rather like a belated baby shower, so that I could be welcomed by friends and family. The pictures from this party are quite powerful – everyone is simply soaked in joy.

      As noted, please remember your child(ren). If other people are assholes about your really amazing decision, they probably don't deserve your continued love and attention.

      • Thank you both for your input. As a prospective parent through adoption, it's like you're speaking the concerns inside my head 99% of the time.

        It seems like there's a bit of an inevitability in the struggles with self-worth. I don't mean to derail this AWESOME article's discussion, but I am curious about whether you'd be comfortable (either of you) talking about that a little bit more? It's super personal and please DO NOT feel obliged to do so if you're not inclined.

        • Sure! I try not to wrap my self worth issues into being adopted, because I had them before I was adopted, and struggles with self worth are something everyone has. I think a lot of "adoption issues" are "normal people issues that people think we should treat differently because the person is adopted so it gets way more complicated than it has to."

          I think the core of it is very simple: You weren't wanted and were flat out rejected by the people who gave birth to you. You ask yourself, why do these other people want me? How can I make sure I keep being wanted? If things get too hard, will I have to leave? How can I keep things from getting so hard that I can't be taken care of anymore?

          This idea of inherent self worth and permanence that seems natural to most people simply isn't to me.

          There are levels and levels of self control that go into navigating my adopted life. I have weird mental systems I use to help me feel safe as I navigate the world that aren't all evidence based. Challenging these mental systems with facts and events has helped. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is awesome.

          Sometimes I'll strap down one behavior I'm convinced will get me rejected so much that I snap somewhere else. I know some adoptees that act out, but I usually snap inward. Sometimes I'm so filled with joy and thankfulness that I could fly. Sometimes I'm so filled with thankfulness that I can't believe I haven't done more with the opportunity life gave me (having a family) and I feel crushed and depressed. This is why consistency is so very important. As a late twenty-something, that means seeing my family once a week. For a kid, that means regular wake up, regular bed time, dinner every night, etc.

          Having other adopted siblings has helped tremendously. We aren't all from the same background, age, or situation. But we all get each other and that helps.

          Adoption is awesome and beautiful, but it's also very deeply fucked in that it wouldn't be something that could happen without a major trauma. That's why the kid always needs to come first.

          • As another adopted person I'm completely fascinated by this. I had no idea that issues of self worth where a common thing for us adopted folks. I don't want to diminish what you are saying or how you are feeling in anyway but I do want to share my point of view here. I just don't see adoption as requiring trauma. From my perspective my birth mom could have chosen abortion and that may well have been easier for her. I feel like her choice to go though with the pregnancy was very brave. Her understanding that she was too young to care for me and choice to put me up for adoption took self reflection and courage. I think she was a very brave young women. I have never questioned my place in my family. Growing up my parents always made it clear that they searched for me, wanted me, chose me. I know that everyone has different backgrounds and experiences. I guess I've never really given it that much thought but it's really interesting to hear from other folks who are adopted. Thanks for sharing you story.

        • I just wanted to add that I really am a decently adjusted adult. I guess you could say I'm the kind of outcome people hope for? Happily married. Good job. No criminal record. Finally figured out what I want to study and working on that degree (I'm a late bloomer). I'm overall a happy person.

          My other reply to your comment is just a zoom-in on one part of what makes me who I am as a person. Adopted people are, well, people, and I think if people focused more on the person part of "adopted person" it would be a big help to adoptees and the people who love them.

        • I am adopted and up until this post I was completely unaware that struggles with self-worth where even a thing for adopted children. I guess it makes sense on some level but for me it's never been a thing. If anything I think I actually may have a healthy sense of self worth than most. My birth mom was 17 when I was born and my birth father took off as soon as he found out she was pregnant. My birth-grand parents where wonderful folks who helped my birth mom though the whole process. My parents where upfront with me about my adoption from the start. Before I could even pronounce the word as a child I used to go around telling everyone "I dopted"
          I met my birth mother and family in my early 20's which was really strange but I'm glad I got to know a little about them. As a child my parents always made me feel safe and loved and somewhat special because they chose me.
          I'm intrigued to learn that issues of self worth are common among adopted folks.

          • I think like everything it depends on the person. Like I said, everyone has self worth issues. I don't personally consider myself maladjusted, but I am aware of how my pre-adoption experiences impacted how I navigate the world.

            A lot of people think adoption makes kids problematic (see also: "what if you get a bad one?") when the solution to the self worth issues is a loving and stable family. It's really that simple.

            I've never met anyone who was adopted at birth, but I understand how it may be significantly different than my experience and the experience of those I know. I was very old by adoption standards, and I came with a complex and painful past. But I turned out okay. Better than okay. I'm happy. I like me. I love my family more than I ever thought I could.

            I feel like the reasons for any issues an adopted person has are almost irrelevant, because the solution is a loving home. I specifically want to adopt an older kid/kids even though people (who know I'm adopted!) ask what I'll do if I get a bad kid. For the most part, we're all good kids. Just hurt.

          • "For the most part, we're all good kids. Just hurt." So much this. Best of luck to you if you do decide to adopt.

        • Thank you all for indulging me.

          It's rare that a pre-adoptive parent gets to hear from the perspectives of an adult adoptee on the experiences they've had and the way in which it does (or could, or may not) effect their ways of navigating the world.

          I feel like there's some sort of force field around adoption, especially when talking about the pain that can result of the process, that it makes it hard to discuss honestly and openly about it. Like it's going to scare some potential parents away or something. It's a bit baffling to me, if I'm to be totally honest about it. Just like any way to become a parent or someone's child, there's going to be triumphs and setbacks, challenges and ease.

          Thank you again.

        • I'm also an adoptee (as an infant from Asia in the early 80's, adopted to a Caucasian couple in the US.) As my parents aren't Asian, I've always know that my sister and I (not biologically related) were adopted. Honestly, I've known that my mom had problems with infertility since I was pretty young – first just that "mommy and daddy couldn't have a baby" and then, as I got older, that my mom had endometriosis. (Which actually has been somewhat of a bonding experience, as I was diagnosed with PCOS.) I can remember being as young as 10 and knowing that I was the 6th of 6 girls and significantly younger than my older siblings. I think the adoption agency said my oldest sibling was 20+ years older than me. Knowing all this hasn't affected my sense of self-worth, and I've never had the desire to search out my biological family. My mom and dad ARE my mom and dad. For me, there isn't even any of that "well, I'm grateful that they could give me a better life" (that I think sometimes gets attached to adoptees.) They are just my parents. My sister is also of the same mindset.

          I was actually talking to another adoptee (from the same country as me, a couple years older) from my hometown and she felt the exact same way.

          However I HAVE known Asian adoptees that have searched out their birth families and have never felt accepted or like they fit in to their [predominately white] hometown.

          I agree with Opinionated Adoptee – I really think it depends on the person. I am a fairly confident person with a healthy sense of self-worth (although like Opinionated said, everyone has struggles with self-worth from time to time, and I am certainly not immune to that, but for me, it's just not wrapped up in my adoption.) Several of the people I know who have searched out their biological family are people who don't necessarily have that confidence or have experienced some trauma with their adopted family (I mean things like, one of their parents or siblings passed away when they were young, not that they were abused.)

          Honestly, thinking about it now, probably the fact that I was 3 months old when I was adopted played a huge role. Opinionated mentioned that they were an older adoptee. I don't think it ever occurred to me to ask "If things get too hard, will I have to leave?"

          • Personally I have no desire for contact with my birth family at all. I knew them long enough to know they're nothing but bad news. Do not want.

  7. Hi All,

    Thanks for all the advice and comments. I actually didn't expect to see my question so soon! We ended up telling our close family and friends first and then I started a blog about our experience. One of the things that struck me when we first started doing research was how little information there is out there on the process. We aren't trying to adopt overseas or adopt a baby, we are going through the state. Very little info out there on that type of adoption. I did end up announcing on Facebook and directing people to the blog I started. While I know it's a little different than DIY baby, I kinda feel like this is akin to announcing the actual pregnancy. There is a process to the DIY just as there is a process to adoption. Thanks again for all the support!!

  8. We also adopted thru the state. We didn't post much on Facebook during the process because of privacy laws in our state, but you better believe the day we finalized I spammed the crap out of everybody. Our adoption was relatively short as it only took 18 months, so it was pretty easy to comply.

  9. We told only our close family and trusted friends that we were pursuing an adoption, and only shared our blog and public Facebook page with our wider social circle once our home study was completed and we were eligible to be chosen. Once our son was placed with us, we sent out announcement cards with all the expected stats (name, DOB, length/weight, hometown, etc.).

    We were, however, extremely firm that we didn't want any kind of shower or party until we had our baby home with us, just in case a placement didn't work out. Once we were all home and settled, our families held a "welcome home party" for our son that looked a lot like a baby shower.

    Good luck to the OP and her husband! I wish you lots of love as you grow your family.

  10. A baby shower is a baby shower. Regardless of how the baby entered your life, you celebrate them coming. I guess I'd write something to the effect of "Awaiting baby X who is coming from ()" .

    And all babies need diapers and stuff.

    If it's an older kid, I'd probaby DIY invites, and just call it a kid shower. S/he will still need clothes and shoes and books and toys.

    Don't try to preemptively answer everyone's questions, especially if they are uncomfortable.

  11. We are also adopting through our state and the process is incredibly grueling and, in some cases, uncomfortable.

    I've been taking the "those who need to know, know" approach to it so far. I've been in contact with my parents, parents-in-law, as well as tugged some of the strings in my support web when I need a little talking it out or pick me up.

    Until we're at the point where we are actively waiting for a placement, I am not going to be announcing more openly. That time is coming, but just like early pregnancy, I feel like it's too risky to announce now. It just seems like bad luck.

    On how I'll do it? I have absolutely no clue, so I'm going to watch this for ideas very closely.

  12. Just a thought — may have been mentioned above, but I didn't see it, so sorry if this is repetitive — depending on the situation, it is not always the best for the child to be surrounded by a lot of people soon after placement. A really little baby isn't likely to be bothered, but if it's a slightly older baby or child, it could be upsetting to them, as they get used to new people and a new environment, to be introduced to too many people too quickly. I have two adopted siblings, one as a newborn and one at several months old, and in both cases my parents were advised not to let too many other people hold, and no one else feed, the baby for quite awhile.

    Also, I think photo announcements after the adoption is finalized and legal, are adorable! Welcoming ___________ born on [actual birthday], and then however little or much else you feel like including. I've seen several like that.

  13. I'm not sure how my family went about announcing my adoption but I do remember pictures of a "welcome home" banner hanging outside the house the day they brought me home. I'm not sure if there was a party or not. I think it's really interesting that they where advised not to let anyone else feed the baby. I'm pretty sure my sister gave me my first bottle as a baby.

  14. We adopted our daughter from birth last summer. We live far from family, so we told close family our plans and once we were home study approved they threw a baby shower for us when we happened to be visiting. We didn't set anything up and got a lot of gift cards which were great, because we didn't know how long we would be waiting. I really enjoyed "nesting", just going into baby's room and rearranging and looking at all of the cute baby things that I couldn't wait to use, but it depends on how you feel as you go through it whether you want to be reminded of what you don't have yet. I also enjoyed buying baby books every once in awhile while we waited. Once our daughter was placed with us we made a facebook announcement and sent out baby announcements and shouted from the rooftops that we were finally parents! 🙂

  15. my advice is to bring people along on your journey. we were very vocal about our infertility and people were increasingly supportive as they understood different steps we took (iui, ivf, etc.) a lot of facebook posting was more surface but it started the convo with those who wanted to know more. i would help people understand the process and struggles of adopting and it might help. btw people were SO excited when we finally got pregnant because they knew how hard we worked for it. it will likely be the same for you.

  16. I think out helps to be open and vocal about adoption early on. I decided years ago that I wanted to adopt, and I'm still a couple of years away from starting the process. I have not been shy about mentioning our adoption plans every time the subject of kids comes up. I think this has normalized it to our friends and family. When the time comes I doubt anyone will question the 'baby shower' and announcements.

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