Breaking Adoption Stigmas — Your Family Is Still A Family
The stigma that your adoptive family is somehow different from a typical biological family is not only wildly incorrect but also damaging. It can be harmful to the psyche of you and your children to hear from others that they are somehow not the same as the rest of us. The truth is that families formed through adoption or guardianship are just like any other family. Today, we look at why these stigmas exist and the realities of adoption.@NEChildrensHome is here to help break down the stigma that #adoptive families are different from others. See what advice they in their latest blog:Click To Tweet
Why Is There Even An Adoption Stigma?
Years ago, adoption was talked about in hushed conversations. For some reason, it was seen as a shameful situation when a pregnant woman chose to place her child for adoption or when families chose to adopt versus creating their own biological family.
What transpired was a rise in the number of adoptive families limiting their discussion of adoption, either keeping the child in the dark until adulthood or never discussing the topic together. This cloaked the topic of adoption with a sense of secrecy, meaning access to helpful, verifiable information was limited, and opinions and assumptions ran rampant.
Finding the right answer amid a society that saw adoption as a result of an unwanted situation made it difficult for people to overcome the existing stigmas.
While we understand (and chances are you know this as well, seeing as you are reading this article) that an adoptive family is just like any other family, there are a few areas that society likes to point out about what makes adoptive families unique.
Below are 4 untrue stigmas that adoptive families often face.
Real = Biological
Let’s cut to the chase — a lot of times, people are uninformed in the language they use surrounding adoption. One of the most blatant examples is using “real” synonymously with “biological.” This implies that only biological families are real families and that families formed through adoption or other means somehow are not.
Shared genes are not what build a family. Love, respect, commitment, loyalty, strength, and support are the foundations of a family. Families that do not share biological genes are real. Families that do share biological genes are real. All of these families deserve respect and support, point-blank.
Open Adoption Is Bad For A Child
Open adoption refers to a situation where the birth and adoptive families have some form of contact during or after an adoption is finalized. Each family is encouraged to set their own boundaries on the level of contact and involvement, but a stigma exists that says this style of adoption negatively impacts the child.
This is untrue.
Interacting is not synonymous with co-parenting. In many situations, the adoptive family stays in contact with the birth parents out of mutual love for the child. While this style of adoption requires a deep level of trust, open adoption can positively impact the child.
With open adoption, there are even more people to love your child. It also means that your child will not have to search for their biological relatives later in life should they choose. Instead, they can build a relationship on their own terms with someone who resembles them.
Much of the stigma surrounding open adoption arises because these parenting roles aren’t defined much in society. But, with strong communication and trust, open adoption can be an excellent option for you and your family.
Adoption Is Easy
Anyone who has gone through the adoption process knows that it is not easy or simple. Adoption agencies want to be sure that the people who are applying for adoption truly understand and are willing to take on the responsibilities. Many steps need to be completed before any placement occurs.
Through a combination of educational courses, group support meetings, and home visits, the adoption process can take a long time to complete. It is also worth noting that placement is not a guarantee for couples that apply for adoption.
When you build your family through adoption, you have to decide what is important to you. Completing the necessary steps is not easy. Neither is the process of accepting and processing that your family will look different. While the adoption process is challenging, it is highly rewarding for those involved.
Adoption Is A Second Choice
There’s often a stigma that only couples struggling with infertility seek out adoption as a means of building a family. But, this is not true. Like everything in life, people are free to choose whatever path they desire to build out their families. Adoption is and always will be a valid avenue for creating a family.
How Can You Break The Adoption Stigma?
Breaking the stigma starts by consciously calling out individuals who uphold these antiquated beliefs. We need to hold one another to a higher standard and point out areas in which society and individuals reaffirm these incorrect and damaging thoughts. We know that it won’t happen overnight, but by educating those that need a bit of push, you can start to turn the tides and eliminate this stigma once and for all.Check out how the #FamiliesForever program through @NEChildrensHome helps families formed through #adoption or guardianship navigate through their journey:Click To Tweet
Don’t Forget To Rely On Support.
One thing that adoptive families need to remember is that they are not alone. Countless families are formed every year through adoption or guardianship, meaning an entire support group out there understands what you are going through and has the advice to help you on your journey. Families need to be sure to lean on these resources and connections for support to keep a happy and healthy mindset.
Some services, such as the Families Forever program through NCHS, work to connect families formed through adoption or guardianship with community resources aimed at helping them adjust to the new family set up and manage both internal and external stressors. With support from NCHS, families in the Families Forever program are connected to:
- One-on-one peer support
- Ongoing mentoring and advisory
- Connections to community resources
- Educational training and classes aimed at equipping families with the skills and strategies they need to thrive
- Connections to mental health services to support a healthy mindset
The bottom line is that the family you built through adoption or guardianship is just like every other family. While some of the challenges you face might be unique to you, the love you share for one another is just as deep and meaningful as any other family.
The journey you face as a family formed through adoption or guardianship doesn’t end on the day of adoption. It continues with you throughout your whole life as you work to support one another throughout the good times and bad. NCHS is there every step of the way to offer you resources to lean on, personal connections to rely on, and a community of individuals that support you and your family. To learn more about NCHS’s Families Forever program or to get started strengthening your relationships as a family, reach out to our team today.