Parenthood always changes friendships, to some degree. But will your adoption also be a factor in those changes?
Here are five unexpected ways adoption may change things for you and your friends:
1. You’ll Learn to Embrace the “It Takes a Village” Mindset
Many adoptive parents never considered that they and their spouse would need anyone’s help to become parents. They thought it would all just fall into place easily, like it does for so many families.
Single parents, same-sex parents and couples who were always planning on adopting have had more time to adjust to the idea that they’ll need help — and not just help with the adoption process.
The truth is: Nobody parents on their own. Everyone needs, and deserves, help.
Think of all the people in your own life who helped your parents raise you. Even the world’s best parents don’t do it on their own! Allow your friends to help you and learn to welcome it.
All of the professionals involved in your adoption, your family, your community and, yes, your friends — everyone wants you to succeed. Long after your adoption, there will be more people in your “village” who will help raise your child to be the best person they can be. Teachers, babysitters, coaches, as well as your friends, family and community — they’ll all be instrumental in raising your child.
Embrace the village. Trust them, lean on them, talk to them, and ask them to step in often.
2. You’ll Find Out Who Your Real Friends Are
Excuse the harsh-sounding cliché, but it’s true. You’ll be surprised at which friends rise to the occasion (and which don’t) and just how hard those friends will work to help you and your family.
There will be true, fantastic friends who will:
- Help you look into adoption and talk through choices with you.
- Listen to you vent about the hard stuff and listen to you sing about the good stuff.
- Celebrate your joys and mourn your losses with you.
- Learn about adoption and teach others.
- Help you fundraise.
- Drop everything to help you when you get “The Call.”
- Help you care for a new child and do whatever they can to help you and your family after your child comes home.
There will be friends who show their support with a casserole, a text, a babysitting or cleaning session, a hug, or a listening ear. Those are friendships worth cherishing and putting effort into.
You’ll also be disappointed at the lack of support from a few of the friends you thought you could rely on. Letting your friends know how they can best support you will be one of the most helpful things you can do, for your friend and for yourself.
3. You’ll Take on the Role of ‘Adoption Advocate/Educator’
This can be both a good thing and a bad thing. On the one hand, you’re probably excited to talk about all things adoption and to teach your friends about everything you’ve learned. On the other, taking on this role can become a little draining.
If you haven’t encountered ignorant comments yet, you will. There will always be people who are uneducated about adoption, and they’ll continue to inadvertently spread myths and misinformation. Don’t let your friends be those people.
Hopefully, your friends will have done their own homework, so you won’t even need to explain much to them. If, however, they haven’t read up on the subject very much, consider this an opportunity.
Being an adoption educator and advocator among your friends helps spread accurate information and a realistic look into adoption. They’ll then go out into their own circles and talk about your positive experience with adoption, instead of horror stories originating from some vague friend-of-a-friend’s-cousin or whatever. Through this, adoption will become a normalized and understood concept.
4. Getting Together Will Change (But Also, It Won’t)
Even if this is your first child, you’re probably anticipating some of the ways in which parenthood may change time spent with friends:
- The meaning of “going out” will change from a bar to the park.
- The dress code will now exclusively be comfy and easy-to-clean.
- The topic of conversion will now revolve around children’s television, how little you’ve slept and playgroup gossip.
- You’ll often have a bonus member in your group — your child, who will inevitably be cranky.
- You’ll see each other less, but cherish the moments together even more than before.
But, at the same time, you’ll be amazed how little things change. You’ll still:
- Joke around (most of which will go right over your child’s head).
- Talk about the “old days” but make time for new adventures together.
- Lean on one another for love and support.
- Find escape, comfort and joy in one another’s company.
- Be ridiculously excited to see one another, even if it hasn’t been that long.
The addition of a child will rock your world, and it will change your friendships. But, there are plenty of wonderful things that will stay the same between you and your friends.
5. You’ll Gain New Friendships
You enter the adoption process to gain a child. But you may also gain important new friendships, including:
Your adoption professional. This catches a lot of hopeful adoptive parents by surprise. But your adoption professional is rooting for your family. They’re there to get to know you, support you, give you advice and to tell it like it is when necessary. Isn’t that everything that a friend does? A lot of birth and adoptive families find that their adoption professional becomes a genuine friend, and that friendship often lasts long after the adoption has been completed.
Fellow adoptive families. Adoption can feel a little lonely if you don’t have anyone to talk to who “gets” it. Even your closest friends probably aren’t going to be able to fully understand. Fortunately, there’s an entire community of people who have been in your shoes. Odds are very good that you’ll hit it off with one of them, and you’ll find not only true friendship, but a common thread.
Your child’s birth family. This is the most important, meaningful friendship you can gain in the adoption process, and it’s one that will hopefully last a lifetime. Not only will this continued friendship benefit each of you, it’ll benefit your child. Take good care of this friendship, work to strengthen and encourage it throughout the years, and always cherish it.
Friendships, both new and old, will be one of your most precious resources — before, during and after your adoption. Throughout the changes, be sure to take good care of your friendships. Even in the midst of adoption and parenthood craziness, never forget to devote the time, love and effort that friends deserve.
Share this blog with a friend you’re grateful to have!