Preparing to adopt: Sharing the news


Andrea Dreidger
Focus on Adoption magazine

You’ve decided to adopt, and you’re ready to discuss it with the significant people in your life. Like any big life news, it can be both exciting and scary to talk about it.

Prepare yourself for the inevitable barrage of questions such as “Why would you adopt?” or “Aren’t there more health and behavioral problems with adoptive kids?”

You’ll probably hear a lot of adoption myths and some horror stories as well as personal opinions. You might also get a negative reaction.

Educate yourself about adoption, ask adoption professionals lots of questions, and start seeking out supports in the adoption community. The more you know about adoption, the better prepared you’ll be to answer other people’s questions. You’ll also feel more confident about your decision.

Discussing adoption with your partner

If you have a partner or spouse, make sure you have in-depth discussions about adoption. Both partners need to be ready to adopt before you move forward in the adoption process. This is especially important if infertility is the reason for choosing adoption.

Sometimes partners start the process with different expectations, parenting styles, strengths, and challenges. You need to come to an understanding with your partner about the type of child you want to parent, especially regarding placement needs and special needs. You might also find that this will change as you participate in the Adoption Education Program (AEP) and build your adoption knowledge.

Discussing adoption with your children

If you already have children at home, it’s important to include them in the adoption discussion.

Be open and honest with them, and share the information in an appropriate way for their age and development. Most children are thrilled about adopting!

Sometimes current children have a difficult time once an adopted child comes to live with the family. Your adopted child may need more of your attention during the transition phase, or your other children may not understand their new sibling’s needs or challenges, which can make things a bit hard on all your kids. There are many support options for adoptive families in BC. AFABC Adoption Key Workers and Adoption Counsellors are here to help, or reach out to other adoptive families in your area for peer support and advice. 

Multi-racial siblings holding handsSharing the news with your extended family and friends

Sharing your adoption process with family and friends is an exciting time. You want those closest to you to support you and share in your excitement.

The right time to tell family and friends is a personal choice.

While most of your family and friends will be happy, be prepared for reactions you haven't anticipated. Your extended family might feel a sense of loss for grandchildren. Or they might have outdated perspectives on adoption.

It’s important to educate them on adoption and include them in the process. Not only will they get a better understanding of adoption, but they might also become more supportive of the process and the challenges that might lie ahead.

Sharing the news at work

When you tell your employer and colleagues and how much you share with them depends on your relationships at work and your work environment.

At some point, you’ll need to tell your employer that you’re adopting so they can prepare for your parental leave. There is no minimum number of weeks’ notice that you’re required to give to your employer before you go on leave, but it’s important to give as much notice as possible. Sometimes it’s not possible to know when a placement will happen, though. Even if it’s very short notice, you’re still entitled to take your leave.

You don’t have to tell your employer when you plan to return to work. They should assume you’ll take all the leave you’re entitled to. It’s always good to say you’re planning to come back so that you can keep your options open. Later, if you decide not to return, you can resign from your job in the normal way.