Anyone who is going through or has gone through adoption will tell you that it is not an easy path to choose. It is emotionally draining, mentally tough, and can even wear on you physically. One thing that I think most families growing their family through adoption or foster care would say they need more than anything is support. Often people do not know how hard it is, or how to support people in this situation, so here is a list of easy ways to support adoptive and foster families, and those waiting to adopt.
1. Cook them a meal. This just helps take one thing off their mind and their to-do list. If you are in the process of adoption you don’t always have time or the brain space to think about what to cook. Someone who has recently adopted is also trying to get used to their new family dynamic and taking care of a new child. They definitely need less on their plate!
2. Take them to coffee. Or ice-cream, or healthy green smoothies. Any time you put in the effort to get together with them and get them out of the house it is a good thing. Often people adopting don’t have the money to go out or don’t think about it. This way it gets their mind off of what is going on and they can talk about it if they want to. Make sure to ask them about the adoption. Sometimes those of us in the adoption process feel like we talk about it too much, so if we know you want to know about it, it helps. Plus we need to talk about it.
3. Learn about adoption. This way you can educate yourself on the language to use, how adoption works, and better understand what your friend is going through. Sometimes it is a lot to explain, and it is hard to correct people when they use the wrong adoption language. The more you educate yourself the more adopting families will feel supported and feel like someone at least understands the adoption process.
4. Give them a card. If you give them a card they will know you haven’t forgot that they are waiting or that they have recently adopted. Those of us waiting don’t show like a pregnant woman and often feel forgotten. Anything showing that you haven’t forgotten they are expecting or just added a child to their family is much appreciated.
5. Buy something for their child. Whether waiting to adopt or recently adopted/fostered a child, buying something for the child is awesome. Again, it shows you haven’t forgotten them and that you care about their coming/new family member. It makes them feel appreciated and helps them feel like you appreciate and accept their family.
6. Give a date night. Give an adopting couple a gift card to a restaurant or a movie and offer to babysit their kids. Often parents who are adopting (or in general!) don’t get to go out and enjoy each other’s company. Even if it is just a Starbuck’s gift card, a date out is always appreciated.
7. Donate money. If someone is adopting not through foster care (and sometimes with foster care) it costs a lot of money (to give you an idea through the agency I’m using it will cost us about $30,000). Any little bit counts, even if it is $5 a month that is $5 they don’t have to pay.
8. Host a fundraiser. Fundraising is really hard. And I promise, those of us adopting get sick of asking the same people for money. If you host a fundraiser it takes the work off the adopting family, and doesn’t make them feel bad for asking for money. Plus, it can reach people outside of the adopting family’s normal circle of friends.
9. Respect their boundaries. Once a child is FINALLY placed with an adopted family they will establish boundaries they are comfortable with. This may be that they don’t want visitors for a certain amount of time or that they don’t want anyone else to hold or feed the child. If you don’t understand that is ok! Just know the family is doing what they think is best. Adopted children often struggle with attachment and parents are just trying to bond with this new child.
10. Be patient. The adoption wait is HARD. And if you haven’t gone through waiting for a child you don’t know what that is like. It makes those of us waiting want to cry and scream basically all the time. Please be patient if we talk about the wait, or our future child, or how much it sucks at the time. People waiting need to be supported and understood – even if you can’t put yourself in their shoes , trying to understand them goes a long way.
11. PRAY. Everyone involved in adoption needs a lot of prayer all the time. Pray for the family, pray for the birth family, pray for the child. Pray for the legal side of it and the case workers involved. Pray for patience and understanding as the family waits.
Any way you support a family adopting is appreciated. The biggest thing people adopting need is support and it is not something there is every enough of. Any small gesture is appreciated more than you will ever know.Thanks for reading and supporting us and other adoptive families.I hope this helps you know how to support people who are adopting!