8/30/2013

10 Ways to Support an Adoptive Family

Chris and I have a great support system that includes our family and close circle of friends.

We've had to lean on them a lot over the past 6-months for encouragement, prayers, and even just a pick-me-up after a hard day.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again:

The adoption process is not for the faint of heart.
During our sleepless nights -- especially when we first met our baby girl 3-weeks ago -- we found ourselves reflecting a LOT on how fortunate we are.

This post is for all those who know someone in the adoption process.

Whether it's a family member or friend or co-worker or neighbor, there are SO many ways you can
support an adoptive family.

And they need it!

I've compiled a list of 10 ways to support an adoptive family below.

[Disclaimer: This is not an all-encompassing list, nor are these any sort of commandments thou
shall follow. They are simply ideas and examples of what helped us in our family's journey.]

1.) Pray

Let the adoptive family know you're praying for them.

Let them know more than once.

Send an encouraging email, card, text message, or Facebook message letting them know you're thinking of the adoptive family.

Chocolate is always good, too ;-)

2.) Be Present

When you ask an adoptive family how they're doing, listen to their response.

There might not be anything you can do to physically help their journey go smoother or faster or
easier, but being present is so important.

One of my best friends, Tiffany, was my constant sounding board.

She lives in Omaha, but our hubbies can attest to the fact that we tend to tie up phone lines for a
couple hours :-)

What's great about Tiffany is I could call her day or night, and she would validate my feelings.

She would celebrate accomplishments with me.

And cry with me.

Often times she'd follow up with a text message a day or two later just to let me know she was
thinking of me.

She didn't ask questions.

She just listened.

She was just there.

Sometimes her presence was all I needed to keep trudging through whatever stage we were at in
the process.

My sister was my other go-to gal in the adoption process.

She was the one who kept us busy, kept us focused and moving in a positive direction.

When another family was chosen for a baby in Vegas, she wasted no time and said, "Let's make sure you're ready for the next one!" and off we went to Babies 'R Us to stock up on supplies.

[She must have had a hunch that our phone call would come a week later!]
 3.) Give Financially

Our friends and family were so generous -- not just with their hearts, but their pocket books.

In five months, we were able to raise almost $10,000.

Remember, the average cost of an infant domestic adoption runs upwards of $30,000 - $40,000.

This money is NOT to purchase and raise a baby. It is to ensure the needs of the birth mother
are met during her pregnancy.

Whatever you can give, consider giving to an adoptive family.

No amount is too small.

The financial burden of the adoption process is intimidating and worrisome.

It takes a village -- be part of that village!

By supporting an adoptive family financially, you will have an automatic investment in the life of a child while also validating the health of a birth mother during her pregnancy.
 4.) Offer Fundraising Ideas

Offer creative ideas to help offset the financial burden for an adoptive family.

Do your kids like to have lemonade stands?

Have them host one for a cause.

Do you have items you want to get rid of?

Offer them to an adoptive family for a garage sale.

Better yet -- offer to host a garage sale with proceeds going to the adoptive family!

My sister and her hubby held a Mega Garage Sale for us, and raised more than $1,000 for our
adoption expenses!
5.) Attend Events

Attend an event that benefits an adoptive family.

Whether it's a Pancake Breakfast or Wine Event, attend what you can.

I can't tell you how much it meant to see familiar faces from high school, college, work, church,
etc., at our events.

Sometimes the "being present" factor is more important than the financial factor.

To know there are people standing with an adoptive family is so important.

6.) Celebrate Milestones

This could be my favorite tip.

Celebrating milestones with an adoptive family is so much fun.

Often times, adoptive families miss out on having a fun pregnancy announcement or gender reveal
party or maternity photos.

So offer to help celebrate the unique milestones that come along with the adoption process!

There are so many milestones to celebrate with an adoptive family -- and they are WORTH celebrating.

7.) Treat New Adoptive Parents As You Would Treat Any New Parents

We need support just as ANY new parents need support.

We struggle with sleep just as ANY new parents do.

We are emotional at this significant life change just as ANY new parents are.

When an adoptive family brings their child home, offer to bring meals or mow the lawn or fold the
laundry, etc.

Don't believe us when we say we have it all under control.

[We're lying.]

The bottom line is this:

New adoptive parents are the same as any new parents in that we're trying to balance parenthood with daily life, and it's challenging!

8.) Use Positive Adoption Language

I've written about the importance of word choice since I started this blog back in March.

When talking to an adoptive family, be as considerate as you would with any new family.

Use broad questions and steer clear of asking detailed questions about birth parents or familial histories.

I'm confident that whatever details the new parents feel comfortable sharing, they will offer up on
their own dime.

Please understand there are some details we don't want to share.

And don't be offended if we bypass your question.

Some details about our adoption are better left private.

Perhaps most importantly, please know we don't expect perfection when it comes to talking about our adoption journey.

If you're not sure how to ask something or how to phrase something -- ask us!

We don't expect all of our friends and family members and acquaintances to be politically correct all the time.

9.) Give Time

Adoption is a lengthy, sometimes draining process.

Often times, adoptive parents are in another state -- or even another country -- for WEEKS while
government entities work to approve clearances before they are allowed to go home.

If your employer allows it, offer to donate some of your vacation time to a co-worker who is facing
this challenge.

Adoptive parents are at the whim of the government, and vacation time is quickly exhausted before
they can even begin bonding at home with their child.

10.) Ask Questions, Share and Educate

Adoptive families are part of a unique club.

We have an unspoken bond between us -- one of understanding, empathy, heartache, joy.

When we announced our plans to adopt, we immediately received so much support from friends and family members.

But there is one message I'll never forget, and it was from our friend Shana:

"I am so excited for you guys. 
The adoption process is something I know very little about. 
On either side of the spectrum, so it will be a learning 
experience for me and Jeremy both, I suspect. FUN, FUN, FUN! 
I am just thrilled for you guys..."

In the past five months I've seen Shana and her hubby use our adoption journey as a tool to teach their kids about adoption.

They've used it as an opportunity.

They've walked the walk with us -- they've learned about the adoption process right along with us,
like many others -- and offered so much encouragement along the way.

I don't know any adoptive family who wouldn't want friends like them.

I know this is a long post, but I think it's one worth sharing.

These tips, as I mentioned, are not all-encompassing.

But I hope you find them helpful.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention our parents and how they made this adoption load easier to carry
both financially and emotionally.

Chris and I are truly blessed.

We know this.

I hope other adoptive families experience the kindness, understanding and support of others, just
as we have.

No comments:

Post a Comment