Abrazo’s adoption community is one of the best benefits of doing an adoption here.
It sets Abrazo apart from other adoption agencies. Most adoption agencies do not allow the sort of transparency Abrazo does. Whether it’s due to confidentiality or secrecy, clients of most other adoption programs nationwide rarely have access to each other.
At Abrazo, however, we encourage open communication between our clients, if they wish to participate. We do this throughout the adoption process– and afterwards, too.
The Power of Adoption Community
A strong adoption community enhances the adoption experience, not just when adoption is being contemplated or consummated, but for decades to come.
People who are adopted, or who are placing, or who are adopting often feel terribly isolated. Their losses are unique, which makes those outside the adoption community feel uncomfortable. Adoption is not “just an event” in time. It’s not only a moment that the passage of time can readily heal.
A healthy adoption community is a village that truly “gets you.” At Abrazo, our birthfamilies and adoptive families get the opportunity to know each other. They reach out to each other with questions or concerns. Joys and sorrows and parenting advice are exchanged (and yes, even hand-me-downs, sometimes.)
How Community Comes About
Abrazo’s community started with the Parents of Tomorrow orientation weekends and weekly birthparent support group meetings, back in 1994.
“Aren’t you afraid that people will talk to each other?” other adoption professionals often asked us.
“We hope they do!” was Abrazo’s response. (Why wouldn’t an adoption agency want their clientele to be “in community” with each other? After all, open adoption is about building families and keeping parents and children well-supported, right?)
For those in the adoption process, having peer support is an enormous advantage. Whether you’re a birthparent, adoptive parent or an adoptee, it is essential to know others who “get” where you’re coming from. These are vital connections grown not just through online exchanges but via real, in-person communication over time and events.
Abrazo’s people revel in each other’s victories. They reach out to each other in times of grief. Many exchange holiday greeting cards. They affirm each other’s kids’ other parents. Many proudly display each other’s kids’ photos on their refrigerators. Abrazo’s staff serve as honorary extended relatives in the children’s lives, as well, sometimes bearing witness for missing birthparents or helping to mediate or rekindle friendships, as needed.
The Abrazo Advantage
At orientation weekends, couples exchange infertility stories, hopes and dreams. In doing so, they find healing from the isolation of an experience so few others understand. At birthparent support group meetings, prospective birthparents and first moms trade stories, too, and find validation in doing so.
At Camp Abrazo, our annual national reunion, adoptees and their families by birth and adoption gather to celebrate the normalcy of their family connections. Open adoption is everybody’s normal, there. As one child recently explained, “Camp Abrazo is the only place where everybody’s family is just like mine. We’re all one big family when we’re there.”
Abrazo’s community also provides private Facebook groups for adoptees, for birthmothers, for adoptive couples, and for grandparents by birth and by adoption. Abrazo maintains a password-protected board just for our community, called the Abrazo Forum. And the agency’s birthmother retreat, “Homecoming,” brings birthmoms together biannually for self-empowerment training and sisterhood, as well.
Abrazo doesn’t do this for money; these are not revenue-generating activities. This agency promotes community-building just because supporting our people is the right thing to do.
Celebrating Adoption Connections
The value of adoption community is never more evident than it is at Camp Abrazo each summer.
This year, a record number of teen adoptees were at Camp. Their presence is a tribute to the vitality of our adoption community, given how many adoptees teens lack such healthy outlets elsewhere. As one Abrazokid reported on social media this week, “Had an amazing weekend at Camp this year. I’m forever thankful for my adoption and the loving parents that took me into their lives and gave me an amazing family. Every year I’m reminded how lucky I am to have a relationship with my birthfamily, as well. There is not one thing I would change. God is good.”
This year at Camp Abrazo, everyone participated in a painting project for a beloved camp family who’d suffered a great loss. Adoptive dad Stephen happily flipped everyone’s kids in the swimming pool. Birthmom Alexis and birth-brother Radar led everyone through the various line dances. Adoptive mama Grace painted hair and tiny toenails. Birthdad Alfonzo asked adoptive dad Jeremy for advice on a car repair. Birthgrandma Mari created the most beautiful jewelry in our Silent Auction benefiting the Angel Account, while adoptive Grandpa Smallwood hand-carved the lovely jewelry boxes that always command the highest bids. Little Mateo started walking for the first time on Sunday after Camp ended; his parents’ new friends from camp reveled in this news, posted on Facebook that evening. Adoptee Kenna met long-lost birthfamily members for the first time on Sunday after Camp and this, too, was widely celebrated by the entire camp community.
Find Your Tribe
The adoption community benefits everyone, over time. It’s the parents (by birth and by adoption) who gain the most, early on. To know plenty of other parents whose stories look and sound like yours means you have found your tribe.
Adoptees later come to appreciate the benefits of having grown up with others whose journeys began the same way, in the same place. To grow up with a strong and healthy adoption community behind them is all their parents’ bonus gift to them.
If you don’t adopt, place or get adopted through Abrazo, then please find yourself an adoption community like ours. Because however adoption entered your life, you surely also deserve the friendly refuge that a caring adoption community has to offer.