Adoption is different from having a natural family in many ways, one being the timeline of your journey. Not knowing the duration of your time until match or the time from match until birth makes adoption a tough thing as far as planning goes. Fear not, adoptive couples; you can still have adoption announcements of some kind. They will be different than a regular pregnancy, birth, or gender announcement, but you can still partake in one of the most special traditions natural families get to enjoy.
We adopted our now 4-year-old boy in 2015. The important announcement I wanted to have as a photo to share on social media was the “our family is growing” announcement with our dogs included. I took a photo of lady shoes, man shoes, baby boy shoes, and our dogs in a line. The difference here, from a regular pregnancy announcement, was that I had to wait to take the photo until we A.) matched with an expectant mom, B.) knew the gender, and C.) were certain he was legally ours. Here’s where I used caution not to be too hasty in my posting on social media. I took the photo when we were matched and knew the gender. I had the photo ready to go—but I didn’t post it online until the 10 days had passed after his birth, in which the birth mom could have changed her mind. It was actually kind of cool because everyone saw the “growing family” photo and then right away, instead of them wondering when the baby was coming, I posted photos of him here with us. Surprise! He’s already home! We had to wait but you all don’t!
Why wait, you ask? I know it’s hard to not tell your secret. I wanted to show everyone as soon as possible, but you must understand it is important to wait in an adoption. First of all, I can’t tell you how many questions you will be bombarded with from friends and family if you don’t clearly delineate the timeline of where you are in the process. “So is it official or…?” is a common question. If you post a “we are adopting” photo, people tend to get so excited and text you before they even read the caption. Definitely, do include a caption if you choose to simply announce you’ve chosen adoption as your route to becoming parents. Clearly say, “We are with an agency,” or “We are a waiting family,” or “Waiting to be matched with an expectant mom.” In my opinion, I would rather just announce your choice to go with adoption as a text status update rather than a photo people will be confused about.
The next photo opportunity people use is the “we’re matched” photo. This is more straightforward. It indicates you have been chosen by an expectant mother; however, you’ll still be bombarded with questions like, “So does this mean it’s official?” People are well-meaning but generally, don’t understand the adoption process. It varies state by state, but the birth mother will always have a certain amount of time after birth to change her mind about placing her child for adoption. This is why my husband and I chose to not do a “we’re matched” announcement at all or photo for social media. We told our families and really close friends and asked them to think good thoughts and pray for us and the expectant mom. Everyone truly important in our circle knew we were matched, and we laid out for them that it was still not official. With that, we had people to lean on and know our secret in that incredibly stressful time until the birth, but we weren’t subject to questions from acquaintances on social media.
There is another big reason people may not realize that the “we’re matched” photo is tricky. People, as in the general public, don’t understand birth mothers and their decision to place children for adoption or how open adoptions work. People in the adoption world get it—outsiders don’t. Now, this is a great time to educate people, but one photo is not going to do the trick. What some people see with a “we’re matched” photo is that the expectant mom has decided for sure that she is placing for adoption and the baby is yours. Therefore, if she changes her mind, in their minds, she is the bad guy. If we say we are matched and don’t tell people how the child is, in fact, not ours yet, we are doing a disservice to expectant moms. People think the child is the adoptive family’s and then if she changes her mind, they think she “took” the child back, when, in reality, the child was always hers.
Adoptive couples are not parents until parental relinquishment papers are signed and the wait period is over. This can vary, but for us, this was about 10 days. The last thing we want is the general public having a more negative view of birth mothers or mothers who are rightful mothers “taking back” their own children as a negative act. We have to keep these women in mind and their privacy and humanity respected.
I remember one YouTube video a couple did where they announced they were driving a far distance, like 10 hours, to meet their baby at the hospital. The expectant mom changed her mind and they drove back empty-handed. The onslaught of mean comments on their video was shocking. People were hurling negativity at the would-be-birth mom like, “She made them drive ten hours? How dare she!” Name-calling was prevalent, too. It just showed a lack of empathy and understanding about the adoption process and how insanely hard it is to relinquish parental rights for these expectant mothers. Yes, the couple had to drive a long way. But in your hearts, do you think that came nearly as close to the pain she would endure if she placed her child and then regretted it? The pain leading up to her decision was far greater than anyone just driving 10 hours. We must remember the expectant mom’s stress and trauma is far greater than we give it credit for in the general public.
Having this caution in posting on social media will serve you well because your feelings will be spared, too. It’s great and joyful to announce everything once it’s really done. It’s stressful to post that you are bringing home a baby and then having to inform everybody that the baby is not going to be yours. Adoption is stressful enough on its own without dealing with all your long-lost relatives and acquaintances asking you questions and you feeling the need to defend yourself or the expectant mom. Just wait it out!
After our 10 days were over, we posted our “growing family” photo and then in rapid succession, another photo of our baby coming home from the hospital and another of him 2 weeks old as our son. At adoption finalization time, a good six or eight months later, we posted a status update about that as well. We also sent an announcement in the mail to family (Harry Potter-themed as it seemed appropriate that he was “placed by the sorting hat” into the Anderson house). We are hoping for a second adoption now and will probably do this same thing again—a growing family photo, a newly born photo, and a two-week-old photo at home (all shared two weeks after birth).
So yes, adoption announcements are different than natural family pregnancy and birth announcements, but they are just as fun! So, take the pictures. Take a growing family photo. Take a gender reveal photo. Do all the things—just wait to post. Save them and have fun knowing you have a secret that may work out splendidly. Keep expectant mom’s feelings in mind and wait until that baby is actually yours to post pictures. Trust me, all the waiting is worth it in the end. Also, please note, these photos should be on private settings, not public. Your agency will warn you of this and probably even recommend not posting publicly until after finalization (which starts six months after placement).
This article will help you better understand some common pitfalls in social media etiquette and adoption. This article is another resource on why you should be careful when posting about adoption on social media. It points out a really important truth: the child and their adoptive parents have a lifetime ahead of them. You have many years together—do the expectant mom the courtesy of having private time for a few days or hours with this baby before you go announcing it is your baby. Another point to consider is if the expectant mom can see your social media account, is it coercive to do an announcement and pressure her to not change her mind?
Mostly, adoptive and expectant parents do not share last names or personal information right away; however, in some cases, they do, like if it is a self-match situation. Even so, over time, the adoption may open more and more. Ours did. We now have our son’s birth mother connected with us on social media, so she could technically take the time to look way back at my photos and see what I posted when he was a newborn.
Don’t forget another important person: your child. They will likely be able to look back online and see what you posted too once they’re old enough. So crazy to think about this at such an early stage—but when they are older you want to make sure you were as respectful as possible about their birth mom during the time of birth (and always). They say what goes on the internet stays on the internet, even if you delete it, and that’s probably true. Fortunately, we shouldn’t have anything negative to say about our children’s birth mothers anyway. With all the education about open adoption these days, people are really embracing birth moms as the vital piece of the story that they are. They truly matter and we should truly respect them in person and online—in public and in private affairs.
Now, for some fun ideas on your actual announcements, if and when you do them. I love vlogs. Vlogs are the best when it comes to adoption to get to see such a range of emotions. Of course, we must respect the birth mother and usually will not show her face, but it is so helpful to see what adoptive parents go through on their journey—the anxiety, the sadness they feel for the birth mother, and the joy they feel as new parents. It gives such a good perspective to people on what adoption is. If you can swing a vlog, I highly recommend it. Most people, though, will use good old photos. Photos that can be sent to family, hung on the wall, and preserved online.
Here you will find a baby onesie telling everyone he or she is “officially adopted.” This might be a way to announce adoption finalization (usually six months or so after placement). You can also find something for an older sibling here. If you’re pursuing international adoption, you can announce via a photo of a globe highlighting the country you’re hoping to adopt from (with some gender-neutral baby shoes). This shirt is super cute to wear in a photo. Other ideas for your adoption announcements can be found on Etsy or Pinterest. Another resource is those that have come before you! Ask your other adoptive couple friends (in-person or online) what they did for theirs. What worked well and what didn’t go as planned? What would they do differently next time?
Good luck on your adoption journey. Keep your camera charged and hang on to any Shutterfly or other photo site coupons! Keep strong, care for that expectant mom, and announce your bundle of joy to the world when the time is right!