Leigh lives in the metro D.C. area with her beautiful family.
Over the past 5-years, they've learned a lot about adoption.
Here's Leigh in her own words on how to best support an adoptive family:
1. Be excited.
When a family first announces they are adopting one if the biggest fears is that people won't accept this path they are going down.
They are a ball of emotions, excited, overjoyed, nervous, scared!
Instead of jumping into a round of 20 questions, listen to their hearts!
Be excited for them, dream with them about their child.
Be there to listen to all the paperwork details, check in on them the day of their home study, celebrate the little steps of mailing off paperwork or getting signatures on documents!
Having friends that walk the little and big steps with you is invaluable!
2. Step into the fundraising.
Many adoptive families have to fundraise in order to go through the process.
It's costly, there isn't insurance, but boy oh boy are these children worth it.
Maybe you don't have the funds to donate some huge amount but you have a huge front yard perfect for a yard sale!
Offer to put one together for your friends.
Host a Noonday Collection trunk show for their adoption, gather some friends and do a lemonade and bake sale, buy a t-shirt from their fundraiser. And share with your other friends, maybe via social media!
You never know who might be looking to help a child become part if their forever family.
Once this sweet one is home many families will have boundaries.
It can look vastly different depending on the child, age, type of adoption and family.
We had boundaries with both our children but they were very different.
With our son's adoption (international at the age of 3 1/2) we really limited contact with people unless they were grandparents or aunts and uncles.
When people were finally around him we asked that they not hug, kiss, hold, offer food or help him.
We needed to bond with him and establish our role as parents and primary caregivers.
He needed a healthy relationship with us first so that he could have a healthy relationship with others -- And it worked!
With our daughter (domestic infant adoption) we were the only ones to feed her comfort her when she cried, rock her to sleep, bathe and diaper change for the first 6-months.
It might not make sense to you, you might really want to snuggle that little one and your feelings might be hurt.
Try not to take it personally, it has nothing to do with you!
I promise these parents have researched and sought council, and they are making these hard decisions because they believe this is what is best and safest for their child.
4. Find ways to help.
They are home!!!
While they might have these crazy boundaries, there are so many ways to show your support.
Many adoptive families night say they are good but really they are overwhelmed and exhausted. They are new parents and it takes time to adjust.
Say things like "I'm going to bring dinner Monday night! Does that work for you or would something else be more helpful?"
Dinner might not be their biggest need but that will open the door to hear what they need.
Offer to go to the grocery store or Target.
Ask if you can come by after the little ones are in bed, bring your friend's favorite indulgence (my girlfriends knew to bring wine and dessert, love them for that!) and just chat.
This can make parents feel so much more human.
Our best friends came over multiple nights a week after our little guy was in bed.
Those times are truly what got me through those first few months.
If the adoptive family has children already in their home, offer to take those children out for a play date -- New siblings can be hard on them too!
They might only need extra hands and help for a few weeks or it could take a long time for them to find their new normal.
Stay in touch, and be that person that is just a text message away; they need you even if it feels like they don't.
5. Be understanding when their parenting style doesn't look like yours.
Most children that have been adopted have experienced a lot of loss and trauma.
There might be things you do as a parent that your friends have chosen not to do with their children. Instead of giving unsolicited parenting advice, take a step back and remember that they are dealing with issues that you have never had to.
A lot of adoptive parents might not share their whole story with everyone or share the issues they might be dealing with at home.
What you see is probably not the full picture.
Don't judge them, encourage them, love them, support them -- They need that more than you know!
healthy adoption language.
Things like "placed for adoption" not "given up for adoption," or, "birth parents," not "real parents," or, "biological children," not "real children."
And help educate others!
Always remember that little ears are listening and what you say matters.
Don't ask sensitive questions with the child standing right there. You never know what kind of hurt you could be stirring up in their little hearts.
guest post submissions for National Adoption Month!