Whilst we were on stage 1 our social worker got us in contact with some local adopters who were our age. That was the start of a wonderful relationship and I am now honoured to call them our friends. We asked them for advice about talking to family and friends about adoption and they had written a letter which they shared with us.
Following on from my previous blog about online safety I am sharing a version of the letter we sent to our friends and family as it helped them understand where they stood and what we wanted / or not wanted them to do. This helped ensure everyone got the same message. We didn’t have to keep repeating ourselves and it wasn’t discriminatory.
I hope you find it helpful. Please feel free to use it and tweak it to suit your family. I would love to know in the comments what you think.
Dear Family / friends,
As you may be aware we have been going through the adoption process. We are excited to tell you that we have been approved to adopt siblings which is amazing news. We are unsure at this time who our children are going to be but we will let you know as soon as we can. We do not know how long this could take but in the mean time we wanted to share this important information with you prior to the arrival of our child(ren).
We all need to be sensitive with the language we use to talk about adoption, this will be paramount when our child(ren) come home. Some examples of the language to AVOID are:
- ‘Own’ child - (i.e. “couldn’t you have your own child?”) our adoptive child is our own child regardless of the genetic link. If you need to ask about a specific genetic relationship please use the term ‘biological child’ or ‘birth child’.
- ‘Real’ - (i.e “who are their real parents?”) We are the child’s parents. If someone asks you who our child’s ‘real’ parents are please can you correct them by saying that we are their parents and if you are referring to their ‘birth parents’ or ‘biological family’ then that is not something which will be discussed. Please use the terms ‘birth mother/father’ or ‘birth/biological family’.
- Introducing our child(ren) to your friends as “our adopted child” is unnecessary. To start with it will be obvious to people who know us that we are now Mummy and Daddy to a child who wasn’t born to us. However, to other people they will not know and do not need to know. More importantly a statement like “this is their adopted child” could imply that our child is somehow second rate.
If you are unsure about language to use, please do not hesitate to ask us (just make sure little ears aren’t listening). We wont be offended and would rather you ask.
Onto our children’s story...
The story of how our child(ren) came to be placed for adoption and what has happened in their past and to their birth family will be kept very private and personal. Our child’s story is their own and not ours to share.
Adopted children will know that they are adopted and we will discuss this with them in an appropriate way for their age. We will make sure they know about their story in the proper time and context. As our child gets older we don’t want them wondering who knows and who doesn’t.
Therefore we would appreciate if our children are able to share or not in their own time. Please do not ask leading questions about siblings or birth family.
Our child(ren) may disclose information to you or want to talk to you about being adopted or talk about their birth family. Please can you thank them for trusting you with their special story but not ask any questions. If they want to tell you more they will. We would really appreciate if you could let us know if they disclose anything to you. This will help us prepare their life story or talk to them about any worries. Please can you also keep any information our child(ren) disclose confidential between you, the child and us.
One of our biggest challenges we will face when meeting our child(ren) is bonding with them and forming secure attachments.
In the beginning they will be grieving for their foster family and possibly birth family.
Because of the importance of forming a strong attachment with our child(ren), we will be doing things a bit differently than we would with a birth child.
We will seem over protective, but this is all in the name of forming an attachment with our children so they can feel safe and thrive.
We have done lots of research and had training so please trust that we know what is best for our child(ren). Please do not criticise our parenting but be curious. We welcome you asking (when appropriate) the reasons to our parenting style, you maybe able to support us in the same way if you understand why we are parenting in this way.
Our parenting style may not be familiar to you and you may not believe in some of the ways we parent but it will be best for our child(ren). We will be using the Therapeutic parenting techniques and if you would like some suggested reading we would be more than happy to help you.
Parenting you may see from us could be...
Holding or carrying our child as much as we can, even if they are ‘too old’. There wont be the usual ‘pass the baby’ until our child has formed a strong and trusting attachment with us, this could take up to a year or longer.
Our child(ren) may have dummies or bottles when you believe they are too old. This will be all for a good reason and we do not need to be told when is best for them to ‘give them up’.
For the same reasons we will need to take it very slowly with visitors at first. We have been advised to ‘cocoon’ and not have any visitors for the first month whilst we get to know each other and build some trust and help our child grieve and trust their surroundings. We will then start introducing friends and family when the child is ready and at their pace. We will however show them photos and talk about you to them.
We will send you photos via email or WhatsApp to keep you informed and so you feel like you are getting to know them too. HOWEVER, please DO NOT share these photos or updates on social media, even if they are in a group shot. We will NOT be sharing their names on social media or anything about their adoption. Please see advice about social media below.
When you are able to meet our child(ren) it maybe for very short amounts at a time to start with and could be somewhere mutual rather than at your house. This is to reduce any anxiety or being overwhelmed. Another reason that they may not come to your house for a while is that they may worry that they are going to come and live with you.
If they ask you for a drink or cuddle or any type of care, please direct them back to ‘your Mummy or Daddy’. If they have fallen over and we aren’t very close, please pick them up and bring them straight to us (without any cuddles), this is again to form strong attachments, that Mummy and Daddy make things better.
We will find social commitments hard to commit to before and after our children are legally ours (which could take up to or over a year after placement) unfortunately we are very limited as to who can babysit and our child may not be ready for a long time for us to leave the house in the evenings. It may be months before we are able to leave just one parent at home whilst the other has the evening off. We will not be leaving them for the night until we are very sure they are ready as this could be detrimental to their attachments with us. Please be patient with us.
Social events which include our child may also be difficult as they may find them too overwhelming, so if we have to leave after a short while please do not take this personally.
Our child may have triggers / flash backs which we are not aware of. A smell, sound, or object could trigger some upsetting memories which they may or may not understand.
If you are curious about our parenting please just ask. We have found the process very interesting and would be more than happy to help share the theory to our parenting techniques. We are very open and honest but sometimes we may need to keep some things private. So we will just say that “this is something we do not wish to share”, please take this in good spirit.
Social media and adoption:
We would ask that you respect our decision to not post about our child online. A few points to remember:
Please do not tag us in anything online, we are going to be very careful about sharing information about where we live, so although we may have a great time at the farm, please don’t ‘check us in’ as this will show a map of where we have been, therefore easy to work out which area we live in.
Photos: as we have mentioned we wont be putting any photos of our child online where they can be identifiable. We would ask that if you were going to post group photos that you ask us first and we can check to see if they are suitable or not., or just let us know about the photo and we will remove our child(ren) from it.
Names: we wont be using names online, we will be using a nickname if we refer to them at all online.
Big events such as birthdays we will keep off the internet, as this would give away our child(ren’s) DOB again, this is to ensure that our children’s identity is kept safe, not just from birth family but also part of their digital footprint.
Part of being an adoptive parent is helping you, our close friends and family understand more about adoption and this is a role we take very seriously. We really want you to be familiar and comfortable with the whole process.
We have a great reading list, and the local libraries are good at supporting adoption related books, so please ask if you would like to be recommended any books.
Finally we would like to thank you for all your support, it has been a long road and we are almost there and know that you will continue to support us.
I hope this helps and is useful. I would love to know what you think so please leave a comment below x