Anticipate Their Questions
Put yourself in your readers' shoes. What questions might be in their heads?
- "Why a letter?" We explained that we didn't want to broadside anyone with a phone call out of the blue. The letter would give them time to digest the information and gather their thoughts.
- "Why didn't you discuss this with anyone?" Unless you have spent time discussing conception and adoption options with friends and family, they will probably wonder how you came to such a major decision without any outside consultation. In this case, the letter is intended to introduce the news gently, but it might still come as a shock. It certainly did in our case, as we were already a happy family with two healthy children. Make sure you indicate that everyone is learning the news at the same time. Nobody likes to feel they've been the only ones kept in the dark.
- "Where did this come from?" People will want to know what led you to the adoption decision, so feel free to address the details of your personal situation — including why you chose international or domestic adoption. The question of infertility will almost certainly come up, although whether you answer that is strictly a personal choice.
- "Is it possible to love an adopted child as much as a biological child?" We knew this question had to be addressed, even though we've never understood it. I looked for anything I could find on the subject and tried to explain it as much as I could. It might help to point out family members you love who are not related to you by blood. For instance, I'm very close to an aunt who is related to me by marriage. I also mentioned a family that has been a strong presence in my life since childhood.
- "Are there any health concerns?" Paint a picture of what family and friends might expect regarding your child's medical status. This is especially important if you're adopting a child with special needs. Knowledge dispels ignorance, so the more you can prepare your family, the better.
End on a happy note. Share some of your experiences up to this point and describe parts of the process you have yet to encounter. Let them see your excitement. Above all, let them see what's in your heart.
Margaret Olander, a former elementary teacher, lives in Madison, Mississippi, with her family.