3 Ways to Support Adoptive Parents
“I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you.”
John 14:18 (ESV)
Before adopting, my knowledge on the topic was limited. As my husband and I prepared to be parents, we read every book, article, and blog that we could get our hands on. We talked to other adoptive parents, and asked a bazillion questions during training classes through our local Children’s Services office.
We found that we were not the only ones who had to learn about adoption. The community called by God to support us (aka our families and church) had much to learn as well. Here are some of the lessons we have learned in our adoption process.
3 Ways to Support Someone Who Is Adopting:
1) Be available to hang out.
The couple’s lifestyle will be flipped 180 degrees. While not every couple will take up the offer, they will appreciate the genuine support.
I went from a full-time employee to a stay-at-home mom overnight (literally). At first, not having to get ready and go into the office felt like a vacation. After the first few weeks went by, I struggled with the realization that my new life is now daily focused on children. I did not know where to turn. The stay-at-home moms that I knew seemed to already be in their groove. Other friends were tied up during the day. I had to figure out on my own that I needed to be proactive in my daily schedule and not give up on hanging out with others (The post "I Hate Being A Housewife" talks about God's calling on my new life).
- Philippians 2:4-
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
2) Tell the adoptive parents that it’s okay to not be okay.
Everyone has unrealistic expectations.
In our foster/adoption classes, the teachers stressed that new parents should not place the expectation on themselves that they are to ‘fix’ their new child immediately or that things should automatically go smoothly.
After our placement, I found myself wrestling with these very unrealistic expectations. When people asked how everything was going, I found myself saying, “Everything is great!” and then rehashing a moment in which there was an issue that we were able to solve well.
Thankfully, God has placed a few people in my life who have offered an atmosphere to be honest and real. In these relationships, I am comfortable sharing my true struggles. They lovingly remind me to put my trust in God to take care of our family, and not to rely on myself. My expectations of perfection come from a place of fear. I need to be reminded regularly that my loving God is in control of all things, not I.
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life (vs 25)
3) Be sensitive about the questions that you ask regarding the adoption.
The less intimate you are with the family adopting, the less personal your questions should be.
Although people outside of our family and immediate circle meant well, we have been asked about biological parents, their back story, and if there has been any abuse or damage. Our response has been loving and patient, however, it does make the conversation awkward when we politely decline from answering directly.
One question that we get quite a bit because we adopted two children is “Are they siblings?” or “Are they REAL siblings?” Russell Moore, in his book “Adopted for Life”, tries to get to the heart of this very awkward question:
“I guess that’s what bothered me so much about the “are they brothers?” question. There was almost a note of implied pity - as though, if they were biologically brothers, well, then at least they’d have each other. The query seemed to be asking, “Is this a real family or just a legal fiction?” The question seemed to render them orphans again.”
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
Both the parents and their communities must adjust when a child is adopted. Hollywood paints a picture of happily ever after when a child enters their "forever family". However, as Kim mentioned in “Raising Up A Garden”, real life adoption is a process, not without hardships and pain. If you (or someone you know) are adopting, just remember that EVERYONE needs grace during the transition.
For examples of what NOT to say, watch this funny video from Jesse Butterworth:
See You In The Round,
“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved."