If you have a loved one who is adopting, you are probably unsure how to help or what is appropriate to say (and not to say). Adopting is an emotional experience that brings permanent change to a family. The entire process can be overwhelming from the start, and it does not end when the new family member comes home. Knowing the significance this process has on your loved one is the first step to supporting them. Continue reading for 5 ways to help a loved one who is adopting.
1. Be A Shoulder To Lean On
Provide the help your loved one needs from their perspective, not yours. When going through the adoption process, emotions can get the best of us. Sometimes your loved one needs an outlet to vent their concerns or frustrations without criticism or judgement. Every individual handles the adoption process differently. Even each partner within a couple handles the process in their own way. Try to be genuine in your interactions, keeping in mind that they are asking for an ear, not an opinion. Sometimes how you say something is just as important as what you say.
2. Help Out
This new addition should not be treated differently than any other new family member when it comes to helping out. Offer to stop in and take care of the baby while the parent takes a shower or a nap. Stop in and do the dishes or offer to pick up a few groceries. Other great ways to help include getting friends and family members organized on meal preparation. Bringing dinner ready to be eaten or a meal that is slow cooker-ready can be a big help for parents running on little sleep during those first few weeks.
3. Throw A Shower
Those who have been suffering from infertility often dream of the day that they will have a baby shower filled with friends and family to welcome their new addition. Those who are adopting need baby items and a welcoming support system just the same, especially given that adoption can be expensive. Throwing a shower not only helps with costs, but helps your family member feel supported during this life-changing event. For those who resist a shower, offer to throw a less elaborate, “sprinkle” instead! Some adoptive parents will prefer doing a “Sip & See” after the baby has come home and that’s great too. Follow their lead on what works best for them.
4. Provide Financial Support
I mentioned it earlier, and I will mention it again, adoption can be expensive! If you have the ability to help financially, that is amazing. If you do not have the ability to help financially, there are many other ways to provide funding support. Organize a fundraising event or help with one that is already organized. Fundraising events can be as large or as small as you would like them to be. Providing assistance with an event or helping to advertise the event increases the chances of success and ultimately gets your loved one closer to their financial goals. Any way that you provide funding support is truly a blessing.
5. Get Educated
Often we do not know how to help those in the adoption process because we do not truly understand it. At times, even those in the middle of the adoption process may not fully understand it themselves. There are many resources available on adoption. There are even some books written especially for friends and family of the pre-adoptive parents. By researching adoption on your own, rather than peppering the future parents with questions, you can learn what steps your loved one is going through and at what stage they are in the process. Doing independent research on the topic also shows your loved one that you care and that you are interested in what they are going through.
Your loved one is navigating an experience that cannot be compared to anything else. Each story is unique and each person handles it differently. Adoption is not a process to be taken lightly. Completing the adoption process is an emotional rollercoaster that leads to one of the greatest blessings that life has to offer. Trying to find ways to support your loved one during this time can be a challenge. Being a shoulder to lean on and helping out when needed can provide them with relief. Throwing a shower and assisting with financial needs may be of great help. Finally, becoming educated in the process can help eliminate questions and confusion about adoption. Regardless of the way that you decide to help your loved one, just the fact that you are making the effort to do so can mean the world to them.
Nicole Witt is Executive Director of The Adoption Consultancy (www.TheAdoptionConsultancy.com) as well as a frequent speaker on adoption and infertility. The Adoption Consultancy is an unbiased resource serving pre-adoptive families by providing them with the education, information and guidance they need to safely adopt a newborn, usually within 3 to 12 months. Nicole has helped hundreds of people to realize their dream of becoming parents.