We are all familiar with New Year’s resolutions and our attempts to improve upon an area of our life during a season of fresh starts and restored beginnings. We desire to let go of the bleak and mundane we have allowed to seep into certain aspects of our existence and forge a brighter tomorrow.
Just as individuals should reevaluate our life’s purpose and the best way to reach those goals, a community as a whole must also find ways to better itself for the common good. As members of the adoption community, we can demonstrate our wish to come together in a better understanding of serving and uplifting all those involved. So, in the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, here are some ideas to go forth and show support and encouragement for adoption as we begin 2019.
1. Use Positive Adoptive Language
Did your momma ever use the old adage, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all?” Well, in some cases, that is good advice. However, when referring to adoption language, an edited version of that saying would be, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, learn how to say it nice.” An important way people connect to adoption is through the conversations we have about adoption. Knowing the most appropriate and kindest picture to paint with our words not only delivers respect to all those involved, but also teaches naive participants or bystanders how the language of adoption affects its story and presentation.
2. Advocate for Birth Parents
Birth parents are the focus at the beginning of any adoption story. They choose adoption for their child. They seek assistance in making an adoption plan. The birth parents choose the adoptive family who will raise their child. Birth parents must sign consent for an adoption plan to legally be finalized. In some cases, this is where birth parents are left — holding the pen from that signature without further support or encouragement post-adoption.
As an adoption community, we must advocate for these birth parents, who will be in need of professional support during the adoption process for medical or psychological requests as well as emotional preservation following the adoption. Birth parents and adoptive families alike have benefited all around from a more open relationship after adoption. But birth parents also need support from each other and from community members who offer opportunities to address their concerns or struggles as a whole.
3. Show Love for Diverse & Non-Traditional Families
Whether you have adopted transracially or know a family who has, multi-cultural adoption should be recognized and celebrated, especially in the adoption community. Sometimes difficult conversations will need to be had when drawing expectations for how transracial adoption is seen, talked about, and experienced. Education to all about the similarities and differences within a family draws boundaries for what will be tolerated and how the adopted child will be celebrated, not marginalized. Be prepared to show boldness when taking a stand. It may not always be popular but will always be the kind of response that shows love and support not only for the adopted child, but for his/her family as well.
4. Offer Encouragement to Friends and Family Members Experiencing Adoption
If you are familiar with the adoption process and the highs and lows it entails, use your experience and wisdom to convey sympathy and a tender heart toward another’s journey to adoption. Be an encouragement to them when the paperwork appears endless, the waiting seems long, and the answers don’t happen to make sense in the moment. Care for a family with words of understanding and maybe a hot meal when they first bring their adopted child home. Join or create a support group where other adoptive families or birth parents in your community can seek relationships bonded together by a similar longing.
5. Share Our Story of Adoption to Inspire Others
Most of us would think it reasonable to wait until we know the ending to our story before sharing it with others. We would like to be able to figure it all out ourselves before we become vulnerable to others by opening up and sharing the details. However, I would urge you to put aside that idea and let others watch the illustration of your story from the first stroke of the paint brush. We learn best when we are able to come alongside others and do life with them instead of just standing on the sidelines of a poetically spoken story after the fact. Allow others to be drawn into how your story unfolds, heartbreak and happiness included, so that you can better demonstrate the reality and anticipation in the midst of each step along the way. This will not only educate people more accurately, but connect people to your journey and maybe inspire them to take the leap of faith in adoption as well.
Let us make one of our New Year’s resolutions to be a better adoption community in 2019 and start realizing the benefits that this will have for all involved.