For waiting families, adoption is an exciting journey that will help them finally realize their dreams of parenthood — but it is also a long process that can be overwhelming, uncertain, and at times, emotionally draining.
If you are looking for ways to support a friend or family member through the ups and downs of adoption, here are some steps you can take through every stage of the adoption process:
During the Wait
The initial steps of the adoption process are often some of the busiest for families hoping to adopt, followed by what can be a long, difficult wait to find a prospective birth mother. There are several ways to show your support of your friend during this phase of the process:
Offer emotional support. One of the best things friends and family can do for hopeful parents through every step of the adoption process is to be available and offer emotional support. Let the adoptive parents know that you are there if they need someone to talk to, and allow them to share as much or as little about their adoption process as they want
Learn about adoption. There is a lot to know about adoption, and it can be overwhelming for adoptive families to dive into the topic alone. Learning about the adoption community and adoption processes will help you better understand the challenges your friend may be facing.
Offer financial resources. Adoption can be expensive, and many adoptive families look for ways to reduce adoption costs. Attend any fundraisers that the family hosts, or offer to help organize a fundraiser on their behalf.
When an Opportunity Arises
When the phone call finally comes informing the family that they have been chosen by a prospective birth mother, it is a time of excitement and celebration. When your friend shares the news that they’ve been selected for an adoption opportunity, there are some things you can do to join in the celebration and show your support:
Provide a service. Many adoptive families need to travel when it is time for the baby to be born — often at a moment’s notice. Offer to housesit or watch your friend’s other children when it is time to for them to travel to the hospital.
Host a celebration. Some families have an adoption shower when they receive an adoption opportunity to help them prepare for their new baby. Ask your friend if they’d like to have a celebration — just be understanding if they’d prefer to wait until after placement.
Help them prepare. Even if your friend is not comfortable decorating the nursery or having a baby shower, they will likely need to make some preparations before the baby is born. Offer to lend them any essentials you have on hand, like a crib, until they are ready to start purchasing baby items.
When the adoptive parents return home with their child, they will face an entirely new set of challenges — parenting a newborn baby!
Help them adjust to life as new parents and show your support of the family they created through adoption:
Welcome them home. Leave a sweet surprise for the new family, whether it’s balloons tied to their mailbox, flowers delivered to their door, or a home-cooked meal.
Help with everyday tasks. Parenting a newborn takes a lot of time and undivided attention. Let your friends know that you are always available and willing to help wherever you’re needed. Offer to run errands or help with the new baby or the family’s other children.
Learn about adoptive parenting. Adoption is a lifelong journey that will continue to impact your friend’s life, as well as their child’s. Learn about positive adoption language, and be sensitive to all members of the adoption community and the challenges they may face.
Every new parent needs support and encouragement, regardless of how their family is created. Offering your time, emotional support and practical help throughout the process will make your friend or family member’s adoption journey that much easier — and strengthen your friendship in the process.