Share Your Story: How Did You Tell Your Extended Family?

We asked, "How did your family react when you told them about your decision to adopt? How did you win over any skeptics?" Here are five of the thoughtful letters we received.

A parent holds his child after making an adoption announcement to his family.

Our Very Large Extended Family Was Very Supportive

About 15 months before we began the process of adopting internationally, our eight-year-old daughter had lost her battle with a brain tumor. When I told my parents about our plans to adopt a daughter in Russia, they wanted to be supportive, but they were concerned that we might be setting ourselves and our boys up for more heartache. But as we all learned more about how the process works, Mom expressed disappointment that, at 70, she was too old to adopt! Once word spread to my seven siblings and all 20+ nieces and nephews, each family, one by one, came by to watch our videotape of Christina—and fell in love with her.

When we returned from Russia, there were tears of joy all around. Christina will be christened this month, and her two 17-year-old cousins will be her godparents.
Cathy, Ohio

My Parents Had to Work Through Their Outdated Notions About Adoption

After years of unsuccessful pregnancies and tears, we thought my parents would be delighted that we were adopting, but just the opposite was true! They were concerned that we were getting a baby we “didn’t make” and were full of comments like “you don’t know what you’re getting into.” They told us never to tell the baby he was adopted, but instead to tell him that his birth parents died in a car accident. We didn’t pay attention to these remarks. We knew that we were ready to parent.

When we arrived home, my parents were waiting for us at the airport. My mom stayed at my house for several days to help out, then called at 5:00 a.m. the next few mornings to make sure I had fed the baby. Now my mom doesn’t let a day go by without talking to “the love of her life”! Funny how things happen.
Nancy, New Jersey

[Making the Decision to Grow Your Family Through Adoption]

Patience—and Baby Photos—Won Them Over

My stepmom had a list of concerns that never ended. I concluded that no assurance we could give her would be adequate. As the adoption process continued, we let my parents know what was happening without giving details.

After arriving home with our son, I called, let them know that their first grandchild had come home, and told them the entire story. Welcome to adoption! In the following weeks, my stepmom called almost every day, and the wall fell completely when we sent photos. Oohing lasted several long distance minutes over the phone. Since then, we have had their full support. They can’t stop talking about how they are looking forward to meeting their grandson.

I am the kind of person who prefers to address issues aggressively. However, when I realized I couldn’t force my stepmom to change, the lesson I learned was patience.
Anne Marie, Oregon

They Were Fearful of the Unknown, But Fell in Love at First Sight

My in-laws reacted with utter and complete silence to our decision to adopt. The silence continued throughout the process, no matter what we did or said . . . it must have been fear of the unknown, because they have worshipped and loved their grandson from the minute they held him, and the adoration is mutual.

[Announcing Your Decision to Adopt]

My Parents Greeted the News with Quiet Joy

When we told my parents we were going to adopt internationally they were very quiet. At first I thought they were upset. Then, during the discussion, my husband remarked that he couldn’t believe how much it was going to cost—as much as a new car! At that, my normally reserved dad smiled and said, “Yes, but if you buy a car, all you have is a car. If you adopt, you end up with a family”

They have welcomed our adopted daughter with open arms. Since then, they’ve also become very interested in others’ international adoption stories.


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