Written by Rebekah McGee a New York Adoption Consultant with Adoptions from the Heart. She and her husband adopted an infant son from Ethiopia in 2012 after a 2.5 year adoption process. Their family then had two biological daughters in 2013 and 2017.
When my husband and I were in the adoption process, I connected with other families throughout the country who were also using our adoption agency to build their families. These relationships were instrumental in keeping my sanity, answering logistic questions about traveling and even post-adoption questions such as hair care! Just last year I took a “mom’s getaway” trip with four moms who all adopted from our agency at the same time. I regularly text and talk with other adoptive parents because they have become very close to me in the years since we started our adoption process.
As an Adoption Counselor, I have the honor of leading our NY Waiting Family Support Group. I always urge the families to connect with each other and exchange contact information! Not only can these other families be helpful resources on simple questions you may not want to “bug” your social worker about, but they are families that can uniquely identify with the adoption journey that they are on. Many people build their families through adoption. Connecting with others who are using the same agency can be unifying as you have people who are experiencing similar highs and lows and working with your same adoption professionals.
In addition to providing a resource through the adoption process, establishing these connections before placement can provide instant support during the post-adoption process! As you are navigating open adoption relationships, or managing the never-ending paperwork, or learning about how to be a culturally-aware transracial family, these adoptive family peers are an incredible tool. Any social worker can tell you the best practices, but others who are living in the “trenches” of the process can give real-time advice and empathy.
Finally, connecting with other adoptive families will provide your children with friends who also have unique stories. If you are adopting transracially, then your child will have other transracial families to help them see the normality of their family makeup. You can come together to celebrate cultural holidays and have large potlucks to celebrate the culture together!
Although I have many reasons that I am thankful for adopting first to build our family, I am so grateful that the relationships formed from my adopting family peers have proved to be one of the secret benefits of adoption. There is a beautiful community of adoptive parents that offer support, fundraising (I used to joke that the same fundraising dollars were being passed around between families as we rotated adoption fundraisers!) and wisdom. If you haven’t connected with your agency’s waiting family support groups, then I hope you will search online or in your neighborhood to meet with other adoptive families. There is a wonderful resource waiting for you and your children!