If you are considering whether or not to make a formal announcement that you are adopting, you most certainly should! Here are some of the reasons WHY you should make an announcement, along with a few tips for making it extremely special and memorable.
The Apprehensions of Announcing
Some may feel unsure about formally announcing to friends and family that they are adopting. I think it’s important to consider why you may feel that way. For me, personally, I was unsure about announcing for a couple of reasons. Many of my friends had made pregnancy announcements and gender reveals for children they would soon meet. No one, however, was formally announcing that they were trying to have a child, rightfully so, because that could be really awkward for some folks. In seriousness, though, there was a small part of me that wondered if others would perceive our announcement in that manner, as though we were saying, “We are trying. We are hoping. We are waiting, and it may never come to pass.” Making that announcement felt like we were opening up an intimate hope and vulnerability to others that was not present in a pregnancy announcement. We had no timeline to meet our child like our friends did, and we questioned whether it was even necessary.
There was another part of me that wondered if I was just trying to have experiences similar to those around me. Was I just wanting to make an announcement because I would never have the chance to announce a pregnancy? There are complex and potentially ugly emotions that can come with the grief of infertility, and I didn’t want even a sliver of jealousy or bitterness to be the reason for making our adoption announcement. I didn’t want to shout our adoption to the world just because I felt I was missing out.
While considering why I was struggling with making an adoption announcement, I had a reality check for myself. No one makes a pregnancy announcement to celebrate conception–they are celebrating the precious child they are excited to get to know! It’s not really about the future parents at all, although they are the object of all the congratulations. It’s about bringing others into the anticipation of a child and a growing family. I wasn’t pregnant, but there was a child who was going to join our family, and we wanted everyone anticipating right alongside us. Our child deserved to have his or her village waiting expectantly for the arrival. Your child deserves that as well.
When Is the Right Time to Announce?
There are so many different variables that happen with adoption, so what is right for one situation may not be appropriate for another. To make a memorable adoption announcement, you should first consider when you’d like to make your announcement. Each option communicates a different kind of celebration for your child to be.
-After a completed home study: When you are finally finished with the mounds of paperwork during your home study and you are notified that your home study is complete, the waiting game begins. This is a great time to make a formal announcement that you are expecting. You are, after all, expecting a call at any time, and an announcement now can have your family and friends ready at a moment’s notice to celebrate with you. This also sends the message to everyone that you are in the “expecting” phase, a “maternity” announcement. Although you may not have a timeline like most others after a pregnancy announcement, you will begin many of the same preparations: getting a room ready, supplies, showers planned, etc. Announcing after a home study gives your family and friends the chance to celebrate all those adoption journey milestones along with you.
– After a match: Making an adoption announcement after you are matched with a birth family may feel like the right time. Now you have an expected timeline to welcome your child into your family. However, this can feel a bit risky because there really is no guarantee until the adoption is finalized. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t make an announcement to friends and family. It’s just important to weigh potential uncertainties. Just like with pregnancies, unexpected outcomes can happen, and the joy and exhilaration can be quickly replaced with fear and grief.
My husband and I chose to announce that we were becoming parents after our first match. We shared our excitement at meeting a wonderful biological family, as well as precious ultrasound pictures. We had so many calls and texts from friends, absolutely ecstatic for us. For a month, those around us invested in our adoption journey, hearing about doctor’s appointments and praying with us through every new development. Things did not remain joyful though. We found out a few weeks before delivery that our matched biological family was choosing to parent, and our hearts broke. At the time, we immediately regretted announcing to others about our match, but the reality was that our village rallied around us in our grief. In our devastation, our family continually checked in on us and prayed for us, and our friends were able to help us manage our day-to-day living while we were swimming in an ocean of grief. My husband and I weren’t the only ones aching, and we were so thankful to have so much support from those close to us.
– After placement: It’s possible that you may feel more comfortable announcing your adoption after placement when your child is finally in your arms. This is a sensible choice if you worry that the adoption may not move as smoothly as you hope before finalization. You may feel more comfortable choosing to announce at placement if the biological parents have terminated their rights and signed over custody to you or to the adoption agency. Nothing is finalized until the court date when the adoption is granted by a judge, but placement is a significant milestone in the adoption journey, a milestone worthy of much celebration. Announcing your adoption at placement allows others to celebrate the new state of your family unit. It allows your friends and family to welcome the child into your family and support you with the changes and transitions that come with a new family member.
– After finalization: This is the safest and simplest option for announcing the adoption. Your child now shares your last name, and you are named as the child’s legal parent. Now you can celebrate with no worries about shifting court dates or unplanned obstacles. Your family is official, and you can shout it from the rooftops. It simplifies the message for your friends and family as well. Those who have not experienced the adoption process may not comprehend the complexities throughout. It’s common for friends and family to have questions about when the adoption can be finalized and whether or not the birth family could potentially stop the adoption process entirely at varying stages of the adoption. Waiting to announce until finalization simplifies the message for friends and family. This is also the perfect time to announce an adoption from foster care.
How Can I Announce?
There are so many creative ideas out there that can inspire your adoption announcement. One simple search on Pinterest can have you scrolling for hours. Here are some simple ideas that can encourage your own creativity.
– Adventure – You could use pictures of globes or maps of your chosen country if you are adopting internationally. Accentuating the country in some way indicates to others where your adoption journey is going to take place and also makes it clear that your family is going to be grown through adoption even if the word “adoption” isn’t necessarily used. This kind of announcement also sends more subtle messages to friends and family that your family is also going to grow culturally. Even if you are adopting domestically, using a U.S. map can highlight the adventure your family is embarking on.
– “Maternity” Photos – This is another creative way to announce that you are adopting after your home study is complete and you begin the waiting and nesting phase. It is similar to an engagement announcement or a pregnancy announcement where you and your partner are celebrating the knowledge of a future celebration. There are so many cute ideas out there: announcing that you are “paper pregnant”; blurred couples kissing in the background with a onesie in the foreground; adult shoes with an additional pair of baby shoes; couples holding banners, chalkboards, or letterboards. It’s important that the words associated with these pictures send a clear message: you are adopting. A lack of clarity can present awkward conversations to clear up confusion, especially if there are fertility challenges.
– Clarity with Words – There are some common words and phrases that are used in adoption announcements that are simple, yet beautiful. “Growing in our hearts” communicates clearly that you will be growing your family through adoption. Using repetition like these phrases can be a sweet message for friends and family, and it can also communicate the finalization of the adoption process: “Longed for, waited for, prayed for,” “Wanted, Chosen, Loved, Adopted,” and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.”
– Pet Announcement – Involving your fur babies in your announcement can be another playful way to communicate your adoption journey. You can have the focus of the picture on your pets with words conveying that your pets are expecting a sibling. Here are a few phrases that could be used for this message: “My parents are getting us another human,” or “We are gaining a sibling.” If you need a bit more clarity that you are adopting, your pet message could be “My parents are adopting,” or “Hey, I’m adopted too!”
– Sibling Announcement – You could also get older siblings involved, with the picture and message centered on them: “Waiting for my new best friend” or “Promoted to Big Brother/Sister.” You could also have each child, in order of oldest to youngest, holding the number of their birth order, with the last number for the child yet to join your family.
– Puzzle Pieces – Another way to announce varying places of your adoption journey is with puzzle pieces. If you are announcing that you are beginning your adoption journey, you could use a variation of “Searching for Our Missing Piece.” This conveys to family that you are preparing for an adoption match and that your family is adoption ready. If you have been matched or had a child placed with you, or if your adoption is finalized, you could use an adaptation of “We’ve finally found our missing piece!” This is a precious way to communicate how fulfilled your family feels with your new addition.
– Add a Little Humor – A whimsical or light-hearted approach to your adoption announcement may be more suitable for your personality. Using light-hearted onesies or children’s clothes that highlight the uniqueness of adoption can be a sweet way to communicate your finalized adoption. There is adorable baby clothing that says “Superman Is Adopted Too.” Adding a pair of Clark Kent glasses can seal the deal on an extra cute adoption announcement. If you are adopting internationally, there are baby clothes that say, “Made in ______” where you can add the home country, announcing to family and friends the culture and nation that has been adopted into your family as well as your new addition.
– Using Important Dates – There are many variations of using dates to communicate the different milestones in your adoption journey. Those dates could be for when the child was born, when he joined your family, and when his adoption is finalized. Here are some common phrases used for these adoption announcements: First he/she was born (with birth date), He/she stole our hearts (with placement date), And now our last name (with adoption date); Welcomed to the world (with birth date), Placed in our arms (with placement date), Forever in our lives (with adoption date). Using dates to announce adoption from foster care is incredibly popular with the amount of days the child has been living with you and then the date of the finalized adoption.
Whatever announcement you choose to create, be sure that you consider the timing of the announcement. Adoption is a complicated process, and it’s easy to want to communicate your joy immediately with the outside world. Most couples choose to announce the beginning of the adoption journey, as well as the finalization of the adoption. The most important thing to keep in mind, though, is that your child is incredibly deserving of a big celebration. Don’t hesitate to announce the beautiful union of your child into your family. Your child deserves all the same celebration as another family that is grown through typical means. All the prayer and waiting and agonizing that happens in the adoption process is worth it when that child is placed in your arms and the judge grants your child the same last name, forever changing your family and the inheritance of your precious child. Announce it from the rooftops!
Callie Smothers is a writer, English teacher, and softball coach from the midwest. She and her husband have a family built through adoption, including two ornery, beautiful four-year-olds that are actually 5 months apart. Her family specializes in making messes, creating imaginative stories, and playing hard outdoors as much as possible. Check out her other writings on her Worship in a Warship Facebook page.