An adoption support group provides many forms of assistance and encouragement to those who have adopted children, those who have been adopted, or birth parents whose child was adopted. An adoption support group can provide varied social and educational opportunities. Many adoption support groups are specialized, providing support to families with special needs children, or with multi-racial or cross-cultural adoptions.
An adoption support group often starts out rather informally, sometimes forming from just a few families who share the common bond of adoption. Those who have been through the adoption process can share experiences and advice with those in various stages of adopting. Some adoption support groups begin, or continue to function, solely online. These groups can function without the requirement of geographical proximity.
An adoption support group usually plans meetings or social gatherings on a regular basis. Social activities may include potluck meals, mothers’ or parents’ nights out, holiday celebrations, and other events. An adoption support group can provide educational support in the form of newsletters, a Web site, training sessions, and referrals to agencies and community resources. Support services provided by a group might include small group meetings, partnerships with others who have experienced similar situations, or informal relationships.
Children who are adopted benefit from meeting other adopted children. In these groups, they can safely express their feelings about being adopted. In the case of cross-cultural adoptions, they can form friendships with other children from the same cultural background.
In an adoption support group, parents form friendships and trusting relationships with peers. They can receive parenting skills training and advice on how to handle issues that arise from adoption. Ideally, parents can both provide and receive support in a comfortable setting.
Many potential adoptive parents find strength in numbers. By seeing how others successfully completed the adoption process, potential adoptive parents may be more likely to proceed. An adoption support group is also likely to expose potential adoptive parents to situations in which special needs children have been successfully adopted.
In the case of birth parents, an adoption support group can provide a sense of compassion. Natural parents and adopted children can share feelings of loss, embarrassment, or loneliness. Such an adoption support group can provide advice on how to reconnect legally and emotionally with estranged family members. In the case of an adult adoptee, a support group can provide advice on obtaining birth records. Some groups combine adoptees, birthparents and adoptive parents into a single group.