Support. Who needs it? Well, everyone can use some from time to time.
Whether online or face-to-face, support, in the form of support groups, provides an environment in which all members of the adoption “constellation”—birth parents, adoptees (teens and adults), foster parents and pre- and post-adoptive parents can find encouragement and share experiences with others who travel a similar journey.
Support groups differ from therapy in that they are typically moderated by someone who has a personal stake in adoption, instead of a therapist, psychologist or counselor. Participating members report no longer feeling alone during the adoption journey, because they are connected to others who “know, ” who “get it.”
Support groups provide mutual support to all. Members understand and are empathetic to adoption-specific challenges, issues and feelings and can sometimes assist in articulating what others feel or assist them in the healing process. Support groups can also provide members with an opportunity for ongoing networking and establishing lasting relationships.
Support groups can meet anywhere—at community centers, libraries, churches, homes, schools, or online. Many groups expand to include social outings, and host educational workshops and other programs. An example of this is Families with Children from China Indiana (FCC-IN). Parent members of FCC-IN created a series of scout troops to support their daughters in appreciating and embracing their birth cultures, and to connect them with peers adopted from China.
A searchable database of over 900 adoption-related support groups open to birth parents, adoptees, foster parents and pre- and post- adoptive parents across the U.S. and Canada is available through the North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC). They also provide a great overview—Starting and Nurturing Adoptive Parent Groups: A Guide for Leaders, whether you wish to join or more or create one yourself. Check out Yahoo Groups listings, too.
Food for Thought: What does your support network look like? Is it nourishing your emotional and spiritual health?