Monday, March 12, 2012

Online Support Groups

The following article is sponsored by the Adopt America Network, a non-profit that has been working for nearly 30 years to match waiting children with families.

Online Support: The Perfect Answer for Many Adoptive Parents

Support can come in lots of ways for people who have adopted children who have special needs. Talking to someone who “gets it” is one of the best things that we as adoptive parents can do to normalize our experience and feel like we are not alone. However, some types of support just aren’t possibilities for us during our most trying of days.

Here are some reasons why “real life” as opposed to virtual, online support aren’t possible for adoptive parents:

1) Traditional support groups require us to leave our homes. This requires child care. Many adoption support groups do not provide child care.

2) Traditional support groups that meet in person sometimes offer child care. However, sometimes our children simply cannot function in that setting -- even if it is geared to special needs children.

3) Sometimes we are simply to exhausted to make ourselves look presentable. Even if we want to get out and go to a group, it would require having time for a shower and ttime to find clothes that match and don’t have holes in them, perhaps makeup or perfume... you get the idea. Sometimes we’re just too tired at the end of the day to get there.

4) If we can’t meet in person, phone calls are the next best thing. However, it is quite embarrassing to be talking to someone with the noise of a kid raging in the background or while being called a variety of interesting and colorful names by an angry teenager. After we’ve said, “wait, hold on a second” five or six times it just gets too frustrating to try any longer.

5) Having visitors would be another natural way to connect with others, but I know you can think of 30 reasons why THAT isn’t going to happen. At least I can.

6) Meeting another adoptive parent for coffee or lunch is a great idea IF all the kids are in school and IF the school isn’t calling to interrupt the lunch or coffee time to say that we have to come to the school to intervene, give advice, or bring them home.

So, naturally, those of us who have interesting children at home often can’t find support by going to a “real life” support group. We can’t have people over, go out to meet someone, or talk on the phone. Fortunately, there is the internet and now even those of us in the midst of the battle in the trenches can participate in an online group.

So obviously, after reading the paragraphs above, you should already be able to articulate these reasons why online support has been my favorite type in my fifteen years as a foster and adoptive parent:

I don’t have to get dressed up. In fact I don’t have to get dressed at all. I don’t have to go anywhere. I can do it any time of day or night, it doesn’t matter if everyone is awake, or nobody is. Nobody can hear the noise and chaos in the background. I also find that the ability to write down what I am feeling (which often is required for online support) helps me understand myself more.

So if you are finding a need to “talk” to “someone who gets it” during the next weeks, why not check out online support options? List servs, message boards, blogs, and other avenues of online connections can be just what you are looking for.

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