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We know how the ups and downs of the adoption process can leave new parents feeling exhausted and frustrated. When you finally meet your child, talking to someone who understands the exhilarating-and sometimes overwhelming-feelings adoption brings up can be helpful. Adoptive parent support groups provide encouragement for people in all stages of the adoption process. Here's how to find the one that's right for you:

The Importance of Support
Almost every adult adoptee I have talked to who was not involved in a group with his or her family has mourned this fact. Almost everyone has said, "When I was growing up, I wish I had known other kids who were adopted just like me. I had no one to empathize with what I was going through.

Safety in Numbers
One of the happy surprises of adoptive parenting is the friendship and camaraderie to be found in adoption support groups. While friends and family don't always understand the joys and challenges of raising children whose ethnicity, special needs, or personal histories may set them apart, support groups can provide information, companionship, and enrichment that you won't find elsewhere.

How to Start a Parent Support Group
Some families are lucky. They simply find and join the local adoptive parent support group. But others find that existing groups don't quite serve their needs and decide to launch their own. If you choose to go this route, a good way to begin is by picking the brains, as we did, of those who have already founded successful groups.

A New Wave of Support
Adoption is a broader term than ever before, reflecting any combination of open, transracial, cross-cultural, special needs, or Fost/Adopt. And new breeds of adoptive parent support groups reflect this fusion. While they're different from support groups of an earlier era, they're still lifelines for problem-solving and rich resources for you and your children.

New-Mom Support Groups
Shortly after adopting, Marcy accompanied a friend to a newly established play group for babies. At first she was thrilled to meet other new mothers, but when the talk turned to pregnancy, labor, and delivery, Marcy felt like an outsider.

Emotional Support From Family and Friends: Why You Need It, How to Get It
The road to adoption is not an easy one for most families. If you're like most, you have probably endured tremendous disappointment, loss, stress, and a drain of financial resources, not to mention a roller coaster of alternating and exhausting emotions.

Meet a Family Online
At a business conference last year, I stopped to chat with a fellow participant pushing a stroller with adorable twin boys. "They're adopted," she told me, not realizing that I was an adoptive parent. Before I could ask the usual "how did you adopt?" questions, she informed me, "If you'd like to know all about their adoption, check out our Web site."

Online Support Groups

CHINA

RUSSIA

GUATEMALA

KOREA

  • Korean Focus, a family support organization with chapters in VA, MD, TN and OH: www.koreanfocus.org
  • Adopt Korea at Yahoo Groups, for pre- and post-adopters and adoptees: groups.yahoo.com/group/adopt_korea/
  • Korea Adoptive Families, for parents of children adopted from Korea, and families pursuing Korean adoptions.
  • Korea Waiting Parents, for families in the process of adopting from Korea.
  • Korean Focus at Yahoo Groups, discussion list for all interested in or involved in Korean adoption: groups.yahoo.com/group/KoreanFocus/

UKRAINE

KAZAKHSTAN

INDIA

  • iChild: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ichild/
  • India Adoptive Families, for parents of children adopted from India, and families pursuing Indian adoptions.

Adoptee Support Groups and Organizations

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