The decision to adopt and all that comes with it means big changes in a person’s life. One of the key ways new parents navigate this world, both before adoption and afterward, is through the support of their friends and family.
If you are a friend or family member of someone who is adopting, here’s how you can support them:
Understand the Power of Language
Sometimes, small words can have a big impact. There is a lot of adoption-specific lingo that helps accentuate the positive in adoption.
Some people are sensitive to this, some aren’t, but everyone will appreciate that you’re being thoughtful. Focus on terms like “birth mother” over “real mother,” or “placed for adoption” rather than “gave up for adoption.”
These differences may seem small, but they have a big impact on how your friend will make their transition into parenthood.
Be Sparse With Parenting Advice
Many adoptive parents already struggle with feelings of being “second class” parents. All parents at times feel inadequate and not up to the task, but imagine how adoptive parents must sometimes feel.
So offer advice when asked, but try to avoid being overbearing. Your friend will be struggling with whether they’re ready to be a parent enough as it is.
Help Them Prepare the House
Prepping a home for a new child is a lot of work. Ensuring things are safe, reorganizing household goods, building furniture, decorating the child’s room – surely your friend can use a hand with that?
Learn How To Frame Things
The decision to adopt can be a joyous one, yet also a joyous one fraught with pain, as such decisions are often driven by issues such as infertility.
Because of this, be sure to frame your language so that your friend’s decision to adopt is seen as the start of a wonderful journey towards parenthood, not as something they were forced into due to issues beyond their control.
They need positivity right now. Help provide it.
Be Patient and Understanding
Between the paperwork, waiting and preparation, sometimes your friend might go MIA. The best thing you can do is to be understanding. They are not abandoning you, they just have a lot happening in life right now.
Reach out every now and then to let them know you’re available if they need you. Otherwise, just be patient. Your friend is not going anywhere.
Keep Them Occupied
The adoption process is often a waiting game, and the wait can be excruciating for those eager to start their new family. You can help by keeping your friend occupied with hobbies, trips, and social visits. Anything to keep their mind off the wait!
Avoid These Well-Meaning But Misguided Thoughts
If you think telling your friend that she’s lucky to have missed out on the downsides of pregnancy will make her feel better about adoption, think again. It will have the opposite effect.
Adoption is not “easier” than pregnancy, it’s just different.
The same holds true when discussing being “lucky” to know ahead of time if their child will have special needs and other such thoughts. We know you mean well, but these thoughts don’t help.
Throw A Shower
Finally, have some fun. Showers are not just for birth mothers! If your friend is waiting on an adoption to be finalized, throw them a shower just as you would any other expecting mother.
After all, they’ll have needs related to raising a child, too. More importantly, it sends a message that you and their other friends and family are happy, excited and supportive – and that’s priceless.