About a year ago I wrote this for Families.com.
In case you don’t have the time to go read it (though I do, of course, recommend that you do), it’s all about how adoptive parents should join support groups whether or not they currently need support themselves. I went to a group hoping to build a support network prior to when the need for such a network arose. I expected there to be other adoptive parents in the area willing to make that connection. But apparently most people don’t tend to join support groups until they are actually in need of support; they don’t see a need to otherwise. In that previous blog I made the case that joining the local group is something adoptive parents should choose to do anyway because even if you don’t need support yourself, someone in the group might need you!
It made perfect sense when I wrote it, but now I am starting to reconsider.
I attended a few of the support group meetings. The only people who show up are the ones in extreme circumstances, the ones at the end of their rope. They spend an hour and a half complaining about how absolutely horrible their situation is. There have been many occasions when I have wondered if we were making a mistake because of how bad things are for these families.
One Monday of every month there are two meetings we have to decide between… it’s Adoption Support Group vs. Crime Patrol.
Today we chose Crime Patrol.
We discussed this decision beforehand, and we decided that the support group was too negative of an environment for us, that we weren’t getting anything out of the meetings that was helpful in our current situation, and as much as I wanted to stick to my previous stance that we should be there anyway, in the end we felt our time would be better spent in the crime patrol meeting.
I would like to see the adoption group grow, I would like to see families who have had more positive experiences join up, I would like it to turn into an actual support network rather than a once a month vent session. But I can’t spend my time listening to all of that negativity and allowing it to suck all the excitement out of this experience.
Part of me realizes that if people like us don’t stick it out, the group will never be what I had hoped it could be. And that part of me wonders if the answer to this is to stick it out, even if we are the first to do so. I wanted the people there when I felt I might need the group, so shouldn’t I be there when another family shows up hoping for the same?
But another part of me has to put more priority on our immediate needs, and if this group isn’t working for us we shouldn’t feel bad about leaving it.
It’s not up to us to try and *fix* it.
Where exactly do you draw the line between doing things out of a sense of obligation vs. doing what you need to do for yourself?