November is National Adoption Month. It’s a month dedicated to spreading awareness about adoption and showing our support for adoptive parents and adoptees. My husband and I adopted a sibling group of five out of foster care in 2017 after pursuing international and domestic adoption. To say that we are passionate about adoption is a bit of an understatement. However, we know that not everyone is interested in or able to adopt so we wanted to share a few easy ways that you can support adoption during #nationaladoptionmonth.
1. Your friendship: First and hands down the best thing you can do to support adoption. The truth is, adoption can be incredibly alienating. Most adopted kids are not like other kids, especially when they are trying to adjust to their new life. They are going to act out in ways that are unpleasant and sometimes unusual. Many adoptive parents are afraid to take their children out among others for a long time because we don't know what will trigger them or how they will react in different situations. It gets really lonely. Knowing that you will not be phased when a child has a meltdown at the sound of a police siren or right before nap time (common triggers), makes us relax around you and that is what we need most. A safe place for us, our kids, the trauma, and all the feelings is essential for us to become the parents these kids need. Also, these kids need “aunts”, “uncles”, and “grandparents” who are safe and who can fill the gaps caused by the families they left behind.
2. Hand-me-down clothes: If you have kids you know how expensive nice clothes can be. Many times they might wear an item or a pair of shoes only a few times before they've grown out of it (or, at least it seems that way). Used kids clothes are often still in great shape and can be a lifesaver for a family who has adopted a fast-growing child or who are unsure of the exact size their child will be. When you go through your kids' closets, set a few things aside for us. Even a small bag of clothes goes a long way when we're stretched thin emotionally, physically, and financially.
3. Restaurant gift cards: When we first bring our child (or children) home, we are a bit frazzled. Just like any new parent, our minds are buzzing with what the child needs and we rarely think about what we need. A simple, already prepared meal goes a long way. But, if you're like me and not much of a cook, a gift card to a restaurant that offers take-out is a fabulous substitution. Gift cards don't require much room in the fridge and allow for most allergies and other dietary restrictions. It's just one less thing for the adoptive family to worry about. Try to find restaurants that have healthy options and kid-friendly options available on their menu.
4. Baby/Kid sitting: I'll just say it. We won't ask for help. Especially childcare help. We're terrified of how our kids will behave and afraid you'll never speak to us again after a few hours with them. You won't be able to offer to watch our kids in passing. You will have to politely insist. Offer to swing by one morning so we can go to Target. If you have kids too, host a play-date. For those of us who are working parents, offer to pick our kids up from school or watch them for us when school is out of session. We'll probably refuse your offers a few times but don't give up on us! Gently persist because we desperately need a break.
You’ve heard it said, “Everyone can do something.” We believe that “something” doesn’t have to be big, elaborate, expensive, or hard. If you feel a tug in your heart to support adoption but you are not able to adopt, seek out someone who has adopted or is in the process of adopting. Encourage them with your words and a few (or all) of the ways listed above. We appreciate your support more than you could ever know. Thank you for helping us celebrate the many ways that love makes a family and #nationaladoptionmonth.