Dealing with Unsupportive Family Members

Most people don’t understand adoption.

The way the process works can be confusing. The benefits of adoption are not common knowledge. The positive position that the journey puts prospective birth mothers in is obscured by poor depictions of adoption in movies and TV shows.

For these reasons and more, it’s common to face opposition from people you love when you choose adoption for your baby. What can you do when your parents don’t support your adoption? What about your brothers and sisters, as well as your friends?

This life-changing journey can be seriously challenging. It only makes it more difficult when you have to carry the emotional weight of disapproval from family. While there’s not a magic answer to relieve this burden, there are some things you can do to improve your situation. That’s why we created this guide.

If you’re wondering how to deal with an unsupportive family when “giving a baby up” for adoption, then this article is for you.

You are not “Giving Up” When You Choose Adoption

Giving a baby up” is one of the most popular ways to speak about adoption. It’s a phrase you’ve undoubtedly heard, and probably even used. However, there’s a misunderstanding in it that is important to call out: Choosing adoption is not “giving up.”

Why does this matter? The language we use influences our understanding of adoption in subtle ways. If your disapproving family members think of adoption as “giving up,” then they will have immediate, strong, negative feelings about it.

Instead of saying that you want to “give a baby up” for adoption, explain that you want to “choose adoption,” “create an adoption plan,” or “place a baby for adoption.” These phrases remove the negative language from the topic. The truth is that adoption is not “giving up.” It is a brave, loving, proactive choice that gives yourself and your child the opportunity to have a bright future.

Extending Empathy to Unsupportive Family

You don’t have to cut ties at the first sign of tension. You should always feel safe, and if you feel that your family’s disapproval puts you in an unsafe situation, then you should look for ways out. However, if you still feel safe in the conversation, then you might be able to stick around and resolve this conflict.

Try to understand where parents who don’t approve of “giving a baby up” for adoption could be coming from. Most parents want to be grandparents. Most parents don’t understand the adoption process. Most parents have a sense of pride that the idea of “giving a baby up” for adoption could hurt.

The common thread here: confusion. If you can, give your parents (or other unsupportive family members) the time to understand adoption and change their perspective. You can help them do this by explaining how the process works and the benefits of adoption.

Ultimately, their reaction is their responsibility. But, you can set the tone for a positive conversation by responding compassionately to their questions and concerns.

Responding to Criticism

Some disagreements are too strong to be settled. You may not be able to help your family understand adoption. Some parents who disapprove of adoption decisions will be stuck in their ways. How can you respond in situations like this?

Every situation is unique. You understand the dynamics of your relationships with your parents, siblings and friends better than anyone. That means we can’t tell you exactly how to respond to criticism in your life when family disapproves of “giving a baby up” for adoption.

Instead, we can provide some helpful things to consider within the context of your specific relationships and conversations. Here are three things to keep in mind when your family doesn’t agree with your adoption decision:

Set Your Boundaries

You need to know where you stand before going into the conversation. When family doesn’t support adoption, they’re going to try to change your mind. But, this is your body and your choice.

What crosses the line between welcome opinions and unwelcome direction? If you know your boundaries, you can calmly and clearly state when they have been crossed by saying something like, “I love you and appreciate your feelings, but it’s not okay to try to control my decision in that way.” 

Remember Who the Adoption Is For

Family and friends are important, but your adoption decision is not for them. It is for yourself and your baby. Your future — and the future of your child — is on the line with adoption. If you’ve chosen adoption, then you understand the benefits of this process and how it can create a better life for everyone involved. When family doesn’t agree with “giving a baby up” for adoption, they may try to make it all about them, but it’s not. Remember who adoption is for.

Be Kind to Yourself

Family that doesn’t agree with adoption may resort to using shame as a tactic to convince you to change your mind. Their hurtful words can leave a lasting impression. If you’re not careful, you may end up internalizing what they say and believing it about yourself.

Remember to be kind to yourself. You are in a situation you didn’t ask for, and you’re dealing with it in the best way you can. Choosing adoption is brave. It’s not easy. It’s often complicated. You deserve grace, support and encouragement — from those around you, and from yourself.

Find Support For Your Journey

You will need emotional support and encouragement during this process. When your family doesn’t like the idea of adoption, where can you find support from other sources?

There are a few places to turn for guidance, support, and encouragement about adoption when you aren’t receiving those things from your family and friends:

24/7 Hotlines

Do you need to speak to someone immediately? For medical and other emergencies, you should always call 911, but if your needs are less urgent, you can call a 24/7 adoption hotline. This is a way to connect with an adoption professional who can answer your questions, offer guidance, and provide support.


Adoption can be challenging from a mental health perspective, especially when family doesn’t support adoption and you aren’t sure what to do. Speaking with a professional counselor could be helpful. To locate a licensed counselor near you, use one of the search tools below:

Adoption Agencies

Your adoption agency is arguably the most important piece of your adoption journey. This professional organization provides the services and support required in order to complete your adoption placement. They can also be a source of encouragement when parents don’t approve of “giving a baby up” for adoption.

Services Provided by Adoption Agencies

The lack of emotional support from family can be devastating. Unsupportive family may also withhold material support, such as financial aid, housing and other resources.

If you are concerned that your unsupportive family members with withhold material support and make your adoption journey more difficult, then you should speak with an adoption agency. Agencies can provide resources to make your pregnancy and adoption process easier to handle. This can include things like housing assistance, adoption financial assistance, connection to other helpful professionals (like counselors and attorneys), and more.

Connect with a Professional Today

Choosing adoption is never easy. Making this decision when family doesn’t support adoption is even more challenging. Would you like to speak with a professional? Contact us today to be connected with an adoption professional who can answer your questions and offer encouragement in your situation.

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