Adoption can be a very emotional and financially challenging process where adoptive parents can experience high levels of stress and anxiety. Whether a family is adopting domestically, internationally or through our Snowflakes program, prospective adoptive parents need the support of their family and friends rallying around them, as they go through the emotional roller coaster of adoption.
If you have not adopted yourself, it will be difficult for you to understand the emotions a family is going through during and after their adoption process. Below are some suggestions to help support your loved one or friend, which will help ease their difficult journey.
Listen! Adoptive parents need their support network more than ever. One very simple way to support prospective adoptive families is to lend an ear and shoulder to cry on. Adoptive parents may need just to vent and express their anxieties and frustrations and know someone is listening. They don’t need your opinions, questions and critique, just listen and talk less!
Offer to help with simple things such as babysitting, respite care, cooking a meal or cleaning their house. While this may sound mundane, it allows adoptive parents time to rest, relax and recoup and lessens the stress of daily chores. Time away from the children allows families to rejuvenate and think more clearly, particularly if these services are offered after the child enters the home.
Don’t criticize and ask questions. Most adoptive parents have done their research before deciding to adopt a child and understand the risks and delays that come with adoption. Because you may have not gone down this road you will not understand the process or emotions associated with the experience. Be supportive by not criticizing or asking questions, such as “How much longer until the child comes home?” If the adoptive parent wants to share this information they will, asking questions that sound critical and judgmental will only exacerbate their doubts and negative emotions.
Offer to help with fundraising. Adoption can be very expensive. Assisting with holding fundraising events not only helps the family financially, but also emotionally, showing you care about the process and the family and want them to succeed.
Accept their decision to adopt and lovingly accept the adopted child. It is so very important that adoptive parents know they are being supported, showing you support their decision and later the child, means more than you can imagine!
Don’t question why they chose to adopt. Families choose adoption for many reasons, some due to infertility, some because they feel a calling to adopt. Whatever the reason, it is a very personal choice and many times it is due to an emotional topic and maybe one the adoptive parent still struggles with. It is better to accept and embrace their decision, rather than to question why.
Throw an adoption shower! Many have likened the adoption process to a “paper pregnancy” with the end result being a new child, a new family member, is entering their home. An adoption shower helps celebrate the new life and family member and will help the family prepare for the arrival of the child.
Ask the adoptive parent, what can I do to support you? This simple question will mean so much and allows the adoptive parent to direct your efforts to what they may need the most.
Showing your support and love to a friend or family member during an adoption process shows you care and support them and may mean the world to a family needing support more than ever, both during their adoption journey and after the adopted child enters their family. Sometimes doing the simple things for an adoptive family shows your loving commitment and support to the family and their decision to adopt.
written by Sonja Brown