Monday, October 5, 2009
Adoption & Extended Family
Got this email:
We're in the process of adopting from Ethiopia and aren't looking forward to sharing this news with our families, as we aren't sure how they'll respond. How did you handle telling your extended families?
We received every possible reaction, so I know exactly how you feel.
My mom and stepdad were very excited. They had a very enthusiastic response and the day after we told them, my mom called me to tell me all about the history of Liberia. She had clearly been doing quite a bit of research. We were so blessed by her response. Her enthusiasm carried us through all the ups and downs of the adoption wait.
My sister and her family responded in the exact same way. (Minus some of the research. ;) ) She asked lots of questions during the process, which of course we loved since we loved talking about it.
My dad and stepmom said something like: "Huh." And that's about it. That was quite a let down. We weren't expecting that. (Or maybe we were, but that didn't make it any easier.)
Kyle's parents gave a full inquisition. They were not at all thrilled about our decision and made it very clear. Not only were we adopting, but we were adopting from Africa. It couldn't get worse in their opinion. His siblings took the "we're not going to talk about this and maybe it will go away" approach. They never asked anything about the children or the process.
Obviously, we were hurt by the negative and/or non-reactions, but we had so much support from friends that it all balanced out. A couple of our friends had adopted and we also connected with other families who were adopting from Liberia, via a Yahoo group, and we all shared our experiences together. Talking to other families who were adopting from the same country (and many times, the same orphanage) was very therapeutic.
I was expecting to have a lot of negative reactions to our family post-adoption, but that hasn't been the case at all. What we figured out was: it's easy to reject children who are an ocean away. But once they are in your family, attitudes change. Our parents all love them just like they do our biological kids, or at least they act like it, which is good enough for me. And we almost never hear negative comments from strangers, because everyone assumes we run a daycare. lol
If your family has a negative reaction to your adoption plans, find friends (or other family members) who support it and spend more time with them. :D Give others grace and time to change their heart.