Years ago, finding your tribe of people was difficult. It used to mean a lot of blind dates, so to speak, and putting yourself out there in various ways, physically. Now, with the vast internet, it's easy to double click, search a word, or connect on various social media platforms. In an instant, you are able to find group after group, or blogs that connect to you. Through these mediums, you are then able to form relationships with those who share the same lifestyle, and understand what you are going through, and support you through the amazing invention of technology.
Why is finding your tribe so important for those of us within the adoption community? First and foremost, it creates a wave of understanding. We don't end up connecting with just one side of the adoption constellation. We end up branching out and reading/listening to other views that we may not have considered had we not put ourselves out there. In this, we are able to continue our own personal education of what adoption means, not only to ourselves, but to others.
When you are able to find your tribe, you are also able to find support. There have been many in the adoption community who have said that no one gets it quite like those who are on the internet. You can suddenly get advice from someone who has already walked the road that you are about to embark on. You are able to give another comfort when they are struggling through their own hardships, and you are able to see, quite visibly, what adoption support looks like to other sides of the triad. As we give support to others we are able to strengthen ourselves and our long term goals of adoption for our families.
In this support also comes a place where you can safely describe your fears, and concerns to someone who you have grown close to. At home we have our spouses or significant others, but sometimes, it's helpful to hear another point of view, or have someone else listen, just simply for the act of being able to vent. This can help to de-stress and de-escalate a situation that could have potentially erupted had we not been able to find a moment to throw those words out into the general universe.
For those of us starting out on the adoption journey, we can speak to others about what agencies they used, what their opinions were, and other related questions we can have when it comes to adoption agency hunting. Being able to gain some insight from those who have already used an agency, whether it be good or bad, can be exceptionally helpful in choosing the right agency to work with. We can also use social media to connect with adoptees and birthmothers so we can better understand what the long term aspect of adoption looks like for them, and be better prepared to handle the scenarios that may come up along the way.
For birthparents, the internet can be an amazing connective tool that leads us to a group of individuals who truly understand what it means to have relinquished your parental rights. Through this, ways to cope with the grief can be found, and a sense of camaraderie can be obtained. Like, adoptive parents, we are also able to search out adoptees, and adoptive parents to seek advice, learn more, and examine our own inner feelings regarding adoption, and our child.
Finding your tribe is like finding that one person in high school that just gets why you paint your nails the color you do, and respects that it's just how it's done. Sometimes, we won't always understand one another, but we're always there to support, encourage and give perspective when it's necessary. This can be one of the most incredible parts of the adoption experience.
Use the internet to find your tribe. Use your tribe to learn, and feel the sense of comfort that comes from knowing you have a safe place to discuss the ins and outs of the adoption experience. Don't be afraid to let others join your tribe, even if they are at a different place than you are, or have a different opinion than you do. Part of the journey comes with evolving, and most of us will change as time moves forward. Occasionally, you might outgrow a tribe, and that's perfectly normal, so long as you aren't outgrowing them because they aren't telling you what you want to hear. The best sort of tribe will challenge your perspective when it needs to be challenged, and offer empathy when needed. Especially in open adoption, we are constantly expected to bend and flex a little more than comfortable sometimes. If we stay in one position, never changing, never listening, eventually, the relationships will become stale. Life is consistently full of changes that expect us to flow with them, and we should expect the same of our groups of friends.
No matter what tribe you find, knowing it's there will always be a comfort. Reach out and embrace one another, and enjoy the perspectives you all bring to the adoption table.
Credits: Danielle Barnsley-Cervo
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Note: Our authors are dedicated to honest, engaged, informed, intelligent, and open conversation about adoption. The opinions expressed here may not reflect the views of Adoption.com.