One of the big questions you face when adopting is when to tell people. It’s really hard. You may have waited years for this moment. Been on a rocky road to becoming parents. So want to shout from the roof tops that it’s finally going to happen. But there are many hoops to go through. A lengthy process to follow.
I wanted to protect people. The people close to us. They had been through the years of infertility and losses with us. I didn’t want to let them down. Again. Get their hopes up in case it all went wrong. Again.
I was also keen to avoid a barrage of questions. Constant messages for updates. News. Progress. I knew it would have been out of excitement. Maybe concern. Certainly hope. But I wanted to take things slowly. Try and get on with our lives in the meantime. Well, as best we could.
I’m delighted to share a first-hand account from a fellow adoptive mum about how she approached this subject with her husband. Here, Jade from Instagram account @xj.a.d.e_l.e.i.g.hx tells us what they decided to do.
“In January 2018 we made the biggest decision of our lives and embarked on the journey of adoption. My husband and I decided to keep our new adventure a secret and only told immediate family. I had mixed emotions about it. Deep down I knew they would be supportive and over the moon that we were starting our family. I just couldn’t help but feel anxious as well as excited.
As there are young children in our family, I was also worried about how people would react or treat our child. I was concerned they might view them differently. Looking back now I see how silly that seemed, but at the time I was overwhelmed with my own feelings.
We thought for a while about how we would tell our parents about our adoption. We wanted to make it memorable. We had cards made that said, “you’re going to be grandparents, we’re adopting”. We gave them to our parents at the same time, so they were able to celebrate together. Emotions were high and everyone was tearful. They were so happy about what we were about to do.
Everyone had so many questions. Mainly around how they could help us. They also wanted to know all about the process. What part they would play. How long the process would take. We tried to answer the questions as best we could at that time. Our parents were great and did a lot of research and reading themselves in order to try and understand the process. This helped us a lot.
During the assessment our parents helped us piece together our family tree, eco map and also with our personal statements. We wanted to choose one of our parents to be a referee but didn’t want to choose between our family. As trivial as it sounds, we literally pulled names from a hat. It was my mother that was chosen. She was so pleased and honoured to be a big part of our assessment process.
I’ll never forget though how nervous she was when she was interviewed by our social worker. She was so nervous about saying the right things. By saying the wrong things. After it, she was so worried. She couldn’t remember what she had been asked or what she had said. Of course, it had gone amazingly though!
Throughout the adoption process our parents helped us prepare for our new arrival. Helping us to get the bedroom ready and all the equipment and accessories that we needed for the baby. My mother and I spent many weekends on girls shopping trips. We are so close, and this was to be her first grandchild. We had the best times. I had never seen her so happy.
Towards the end of the adoption process our families were invited to an information evening providing them with some of the details that we had received through our training days. They were offered advice and ways to help them understand and support us going forward. For our parents to attend the open evening meant so much to us. It showed how supportive they were and how they wanted to continue to support us as well as our child. Their grandchild.
We felt that the information evening was a great tool. We tried to relay the information the best we could about what we had learned. But it’s better coming from the adoption agency. Our parents found it very beneficial and highly recommended it.
In November 2019 we were officially matched. We’d decided not to share this with anyone. We kept our baby a secret just between my husband and me. It was hard though as we were so excited and wanted to celebrate with everyone. Wanted them to share our happiness. So, we eventually decided the time was right to tell our wider family.
We arranged a little gathering (which ended up being 60 people!) at our local restaurant. We decorated it in pink and blue, with cakes, balloons, banners and signs. At the entrance we had a sign announcing that we were adopting. I had butterflies and was so nervous about what everyone’s reaction would be.
It felt so surreal, it had been something I had dreamt of for so many years. I never thought it would happen. Our family were ecstatic and instantly I knew that our baby would be so loved by everyone. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.
So, at this point all our family were on the same page and oblivious that we had been matched. Then came our next surprise! We handed out envelopes to every family member and asked them not to open it. We’d arranged for a really big balloon filled with the clue of whether our child would be a boy or a girl. It wasn’t long until people worked out that this was going to be a big reveal.
We counted down 1..2..3 and popped the balloon. We were having a girl! A daughter. We then asked everyone to open their envelopes. Inside was a photograph along with a message and her name attached. It was such an emotional night. I finally started to feel that it was really happening. We were ecstatic and our family were just as excited as we were to meet her. She was going to be a very lucky little girl to have such loving family. And we felt very lucky too.”
I love this post! I love how engaged Jade’s family were with their adoption journey. They sound very special to me and I’m sure you’ll agree.
It is hard to keep things from the people you love. To keep what is possibly the biggest secret of your life. But I think it’s right. Until the time is right. I think it’s important for partners to have some special time to themselves to take it all in. Adjust to what’s ahead.
I can’t pretend that I didn’t wonder if our families would love our child in the same way as if I’d given birth. If they’d have the same connection with them. Feel attached. I thought all these things. It might sound unfair on them, but I think it’s only natural. What I do know now is that I did them an injustice. I can say with all my being, that they love my children exactly the same. My sister gave birth to my niece not long before my daughter came home. This was a really big deal. Especially for my parents as first-time grandparents. But honestly, their feelings for our children are just as strong. Their love is without question equal.
Jade’s story is so lovely to share. I hope that if you are on your own adoption journeys it’s given you some good guidance. There are some really useful tips in here, especially around parents attending adoption information evenings. We never thought of this when we adopted. And it was never suggested.
Finally, the thought and detail that went in to the “big reveal” brings a tear to my eye. I can just feel the anticipation. The excitement. Oozing from the room. Hearts bursting. Skipping a beat. I wish we had thought of something so creative. If you are heading towards this point in the process, I hope this has given you some food for thought.
This blog is just another poignant reminder of the wonder of adoption. Of the powerful emotions it creates. For everyone. It shows that families are made from love not DNA. That you don’t have to grow a baby to be a mum. They grow in your heart. Adoption doesn’t just make parents. It makes grandparents, aunties, cousins and more. It brings families together. It brings joy. Love. Unconditional love. And it truly is the best feeling.
You can follow Jade on her Instagram account @xj.a.d.e_l.e.i.g.hx as she continues her journey of motherhood with her very special little girl.