The family will be a crucial part of your adoption journey and hopefully you will be able to count on their support. If you are fortunate enough to have engaged grandparents, they will be invaluable as your adoptive children grow up. If you don’t have parents locally or are sadly bereaved, are there friends who would be honorary grandpa and grandma? It’s good for children to be close to people from all generations, if possible.
Grandparents may experience a kind of grief or loss as a result of the idea of an adopted grandchild. They may be disappointed in the prospect of not having birth grandchildren. Give them some space to vocalise their feelings.
Below are some helpful discussion points you could use to generate a conversation.
- They may also be worried about the match or adoption falling through.
It’s helpful to share much of what you have learn in the adoption preparation courses you attend, so they feel more included and informed. Some adoption agencies now provide training for grandparents so be sure to encourage them to attend!
- Encourage your parents to do some research.
There are resources just for them such as such as ‘Related by Adoption’ by Hedi Argent, which offers facts on the adoption process, quotes from adoptive grandparents as well as tips on how to be understanding and involved.
- Explain the potential contact arrangements with birth family.
Your parents may understand adoption from a more traditional perspective, when contact was remote and often by occasional letter. It will be beneficial to explain to your parents that the adopted child will appreciate in time having information about their parents and background.
- Talk to your parents about confidentiality
The child’s background history is not for public consumption and this can be a challenge when their friends ask them about their new grandchildren. Agree with them in advance what they are going to say to their friends.
- Using the right words
Encourage your parents not to call your child their “adopted grandchildren”, it risks making them feel as if they are not a full member of the family. Avoid talking about real or natural parents, as this also could make them feel alienated. Ask your parents to use the term birth parents.
- Help your parents build strong relationships with your child.
Build opportunities for your parents to spend time with their new grandchildren. Initially family time and days out, building to babysitting and staying over when the child is comfortable and confident in their grandparents care.
If the child is of a different ethnicity to you and/or your parents, let them join in your exploration of your child’s culture and history.
- They could consider attending a support group
They might find it helpful to join a support group for adoptive families or an online forum for adoptive grandparents. This is run by AdoptionUK.
Helpful books and websites
The following selection of books and websites will help you become more informed about adoption and grandparenting:
- Grandparents Plus UK
- PAC UK
- Adoption UK
- Family Lives
- We Are Family Adoption
- ICA Centre
- Adoption Life Books
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