Adoption can be an incredible, life-changing decision, but it can also be an uncertain, emotional and lengthy process. It’s important for hopeful adoptive parents to have love and support from their family and friends as their adoption journey progresses.
But, if your children are starting the adoption process, what is the best way to provide support? What do you need to know? What should you say or not say during the process?
These are just some of the questions you may be asking if your child has announced they’re adopting. So, for National Grandparents Day on Sunday, we’ve gathered everything you need to know as an adoptive-grandparent-to-be!
Check it out below:
1. Educate yourself on adoption
It’s much easier to provide support and give an educated opinion when you are knowledgeable on the subject matter. With so many different rules, regulations and steps required in adoption, educating yourself about the basic process allows you to relate to the journey your children are going through. Understanding the adoption process can also help prepare you for difficult moments — such as your child’s wait to be chosen by an expectant mother or an adoption disruption — but also for positive times such as placement or finalization.
2. Avoid negativity
Everyone has a different opinion on adoption; it’s only human nature. But, if your child is at the point where they are pursuing adoption, they feel strongly that it is the best opportunity for them and their family. Asking negative questions or giving discouraging opinions will only make them question their decision to adopt and potentially distance themselves from you.
Negative reactions from you will indicate a lack of support, which can be devastating for your child. Remember that each adoptive family has a different reason why they are choosing adoption. But, regardless of their motivations, it is a private decision they have made as a family.
Insulting or discrediting this decision can come across as disrespectful and inconsiderate — and will impact your relationship with your future grandchild.
3. Provide support
This may sound like a broad piece of advice, but ultimately, support is exactly what your child needs through the adoption process and beyond.
This support can come in many different forms. Maybe it’s emotional, by listening to their thoughts, concerns and feelings along the way. Maybe it’s financial, by attending or assisting with fundraising events or directly contributing to their adoption fund. Even offering your support with practical things — childcare, housesitting, etc. — is an incredibly helpful gesture for your children; adoption involves lots of planning, meetings, traveling and other time-consuming activities. If you are able to assist with meal preparation or help with everyday chores, this can take away some of the stress on their shoulders.
Supporting your child not only helps ease some of the stress and concern during their adoption, but also shows them you are by their side and that you care.
4. And keep that support going
Adoption is a lifelong journey, so your support won’t be limited to just during the adoption process but after the placement of your new grandchild, as well.
From the moment your child becomes a parent through adoption, yours and their life will be forever changed. They will share in the same joys of raising a child, just like you had when you raised them. Throw a party, send out announcements — do anything you can do to spread the word and celebrate the new parents.
While your child is in the early stages of adjusting to parenthood, offer to help with errands or to provide childcare. It may seem simple, but these little gestures go a long way toward your children feeling that you fully understand and support their decision to adopt.
5. Make time for your family
The best ability is availability. Being available when your son or daughter needs you provides them with a trust and reliability that compares to nothing else. Being available and making time for your grandchildren on their schedule — rather through random letters, phone calls or visits — can help create a lifelong respect and bond, especially if you want to play an active role in your grandchild’s life.
Adoptive parents may jump into parenthood in a different way than you did, but they have the same hopes of being able to provide for their child — just like you during their childhoods.
No matter how they do it, your children are giving you a grandchild to love and support. Although the situation is unique, the love you and your son or daughter will have for their child is as true as any. Sure, there will be hurdles, but with the right knowledge, outlook and support, you can help be the foundation of the adoption support system your child and grandchild will need for success.