Becoming grandparents through adoption?
Becoming a grandparent is a fantastic experience, regardless of how you become one.
And adoption has the power to bring families together like nothing else can.
Being a grandparent is a wonderful adventure – let us help you get started on it with five tips.
#1 Acknowledge Your Feelings
Becoming a grandparent is a significant life change, no matter how it happens. And adoption can add another layer of emotion to the experience.
You may feel scared, excited, or unsure about what the future holds. You may even feel grief that your grandchild won’t share your DNA. And that’s normal, too. It is okay to have mixed feelings of concern while being hopeful and excited for your children.
Acknowledge your feelings and work through them before passing your concerns onto your own children. It is important to remember that you are not alone in your feelings — many parents feel worried and scared when their children announce they will be adoptive grandparents.
But with time and patience, you will come to understand and embrace your new role. Research has found no difference in the relationships between grandparents and biological and adopted children. In other words, the love you have for your grandchildren will be the same, no matter how they came into your life (or how far away they are).
Try to focus on the positive aspects of adoption and remember that your kids provide a loving home for a child in need.
#2 Educate Yourself on The Adoption Process
If you’re becoming grandparents through adoption, it’s vital that you educate yourself on the adoption process.
This way, you’ll be able to understand what your child is going through and be there for them every step of the way. Many resources are available online, like this handy list, and books like In On It and Related By Adoption, that can help you learn more about adoption.
Be sure to learn the correct terminology to use when talking about adoption. This can be a sensitive subject for many people, so it’s essential to be respectful and use the appropriate language.
For example, instead of saying:
- “Given up for adoption,” you would say “placed for adoption”
- “Real parents,” you would say “birth parents”
- “Natural grandchild/one of my own”, you would say “birth grandchild”
- “Unwanted pregnancy”, you would say “unintended pregnancy”
By being prepared and educating yourself on the process, you can make this transition smooth and positive for everyone involved.
#3 Connect With Other Adoptive Grandparents
Consider talking to other grandparents who have adopted grandchildren. They can offer first-hand advice and support as you navigate this new journey.
You can also find online support groups or forums where you can chat with other adoptive grandparents. This is a great way to get advice and share your experiences with others who understand what you’re going through.
And also, to better understand what the whole family unit is going through. According to Seven Core Issues in Adoption and Permanency all members experience:
- Shame and Guilt
- Mastery and Control
And having a supportive group to help navigate these challenges can make all the difference. Here are some more resources to get you started:
#4 Share (& Respect) Values, Heritage & Tradition
Adoption can provide a unique opportunity to share values, heritage and traditions with your grandchild. And it’s important to be respectful of the child’s birth culture and family traditions. This is especially critical if your new grandchild is of a different race or ethnicity and is used to a completely different culture.
According to research, all adopted children grieve the loss of their biological family, their heritage, and their culture to some extent. So do your best to make this process as easy on them as possible. And, most importantly, have an open mind and heart.
Answering these self-reflection questions will help give you a starting point to ensure you say the right things to your grandchild:
- Which values, heritage, or traditions would you like to share with your grandchild?
- What are you hoping they will take away from learning about their heritage?
- What does your family tradition look like, and how can you make it memorable for them?
Becoming grandparents through adoption is a chance to expand your horizons and build a stronger, more connected family.
#5 Recognize Your Role as Part of a Team
Becoming a grandparent through adoption is not a solo journey. You’re part of a team that includes your child and their spouse or partner, the child’s birth family, and the adoption professional(s) working with your family.
Recognizing that everyone has an important role to play will help the entire adoption process go more smoothly. And recognizing your own role, while clearly understanding the dynamics within the team unit, can make a big difference.
After all, your role as a grandparent-to-be is vital. You can provide support, love, and understanding to your child as they navigate the adoption process.
For instance, one study of 236 participants by David Pitcher found that adoptive grandparents had a significant role for parents as “approving witnesses” to the new family and also a source of fun.
You can also help with the practical aspects of adoption, such as raising funds or providing a temporary home for an adopted child.
Most importantly, you’re here to support both your child and grandchild. So have an open conversation and see what they expect and need from you throughout the process.
Love is All You Need
Becoming grandparents through adoption can be a wonderful and rewarding experience. And with some planning and preparation, you can make this transition smoothly and enjoy all the benefits of being a grandparent.
While it may be different from becoming grandparents through biological means, it certainly doesn’t mean that you can’t have a close and loving relationship with your adopted grandchild.
Genes don’t define family. It’s defined by love, fostering connections, and working together.
We’ve shared five tips for becoming grandparents through adoption:
- #1 Acknowledge your feelings — you may experience mixed emotions and that’s normal
- #2 Educate yourself on the adoption process — learn as much as you can so you can be the supportive (grand)parent your family needs
- #3 Connect with other adoptive grandparents — they can provide support, advice, and understanding
- #4 Share (& respect) values, heritage & tradition — rely on the three e’s: educate, entertain, and empower
- #5 Recognize your role as part of a team — remember that you’re not alone in this; there are many people working together to make this happen
The adoption process can be lengthy, but it’s worth it when you finally get to hold your new grandchild in your arms.