What is an Adoption Support Group?

Cathy Rogers

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.

Feelings of embarrassment or loneliness can be shared at an adoption support group.
Feelings of embarrassment or loneliness can be shared at an adoption support group.

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.

Parents who have adopted a child may experience difficulties that can be discussed at an adoption support group.
Parents who have adopted a child may experience difficulties that can be discussed at an adoption support group.

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.

Some adoption support groups accommodate adopted children, birth parents and adoptive parents in a single group.
Some adoption support groups accommodate adopted children, birth parents and adoptive parents in a single group.

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.

Support groups may help people who are looking into adopting a relative's children.
Support groups may help people who are looking into adopting a relative's children.

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.

Adoption support groups may help adults to reconnect with their birth parents.
Adoption support groups may help adults to reconnect with their birth parents.

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Discussion Comments


My sister is now in her late thirties and single. She is feeling a bit overwhelmed but the dating scene and doesn't feel that going the usual route of getting married and having children is going to happen for her. I am wondering if anyone can recommend a good support group for those considering single adoption?

As far as things like income and home life go, I think my sister would be able to support a child and give them a good life quite easily. I am just worried that without some support she might struggle getting through the adoption process as it is doubly tough for those who are single.


@drtroubles - I think that gay parents face some of the same struggles to adopt children that those trying for single parent adoption do. There are a lot of stereotypes out there about what makes the ideal home situation.

There are actually quite a few support groups available for gay couples who want to be parents, though to find one in your area you might want to do a bit of digging on social networking sites.

One of the biggest support group for gay parents is New Family Social out of the United Kingdom. You should get your sister to look into them if she is seeking support with her partner.


Does anyone know any support groups that would be open for those who looking at gay parent adoption?

My sister and her parter are looking into lesbian adoption and are struggling a bit to find a support group for their situation. I know that the whole topic of gay adoption is a hot one but the fact is children need homes and I think that my sister would make an excellent mother.

I am personally for gay adoption and would like to help my sister find a group of like-minded individuals that would be open to offering her support with the adoption process.


@LisaLou - That is very encouraging to read about your sisters family. Not every adoptive situation has such a positive outcome.

Sometimes the kids never really bond with their adoptive parents, and this causes all sorts of emotional issues for everyone.

I think there are times when being involved in a support group is extremely important. I would almost think there would be some kind of requirement for this - at least for the first year anyway.

Many children who are adopted from over seas have special needs. If parents aren't used to dealing with these, it can also be very challenging.

One of my friends adopted a daughter from China several years ago. She was a little bit older and still has a lot of emotional issues. They have been told that she may always have a hard time bonding with people because she did not get that when she was an infant.


I know several families who have adopted children, and every story is different. My sister is in a second marriage and they have four kids between the two of them.

Shortly after they were married, they adopted an 8 year old girl from Vietnam. This experience has been both challenging and rewarding for them.

They have kept in touch with their daughters family back in Vietnam and have even made two trips over there to spend time with her family.

Their daughters mom was a single parent who could not afford to keep her daughter. She also had a birthmark on her face, and knew if she stayed in Vietnam, she would never marry because of this.

Once she was adopted they began the process of having her birthmark removed. The first time they went back to Vietnam and they saw her without her birthmark, they were so excited for her.

Having this type of support has been nothing but positive for the girl. She knows where she came from and who her family is, and also has a loving, supportive family here as well.


Making the decision to adopt a child should never be taken lightly. This will change the dynamics of your life both for yourself and your children, but there are many wonderful rewards that go along with it.

One of my best friends has three adopted children and 2 biological children. All three of her adopted children were adopted from the same orphanage in Korea.

This past summer they had the opportunity to return to Korea with their three oldest children. They were able to visit the orphanage and hold the babies in the same place their kids were adopted from.

This was a very moving experience for all of them. When they left, the older adopted girl was very quiet and reflective. Her comment to her Mom was that she felt like her looks fit in better in Korea, but she was very thankful for the family she had.

Their whole family has also been actively involved in a support group. This is something that has been helpful for all of them - the parents, adopted kids and biological kids.

Each one of them are dealing with different issues and to have the chance to share with others who understand how you are feeling can make it a little easier.


@jennythelib - That book sounds like something I would like; I'll have to see if my library has it.

A lady that I met in my infertility support group has since moved on to an adoptive parents support group. Her group is mostly for parents who have adopted older children from other countries, which is what she and her husband did. They adopted siblings from Ethiopia.

This group has its own special challenges, starting with issues that seem silly - like what to do if they keep wasting shampoo - but can be terribly frustrating. I am still hoping to conceive, but my husband I are also talking about adopting a toddler from foster care. (Not necessarily as an instead - could be an addition.) I know that there are support groups for that arrangement as well.


A novel I read a couple of years ago was about an informal adoption support group. It was Ann Tyler's Digging for America.

The premise was that two families had met at the airport where they were both receiving an adopted child from Korea on the same day. The two families were very different; one was older and Caucasian, the other younger and first- or second-generation Iranian immigrants. The white couple kept their baby's Korean name, while the Iranians re-named their little girl Susan.

But they got together every year for an Adoption Day party, and the similarity of their shared experience kept them close.

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