5 Things Family and Friends Need to Understand About Our Adoption

How to support new adoptive parents.

Jessie Lundell August 11, 2014
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Bringing home an infant is a magical day, a day that we will cherish forever. Those first few days and weeks are full of love, joy, and complete bliss. For most of us, adoption didn’t happen overnight–it was something that we had hoped for, planned on, and dreamed about for months or maybe years.

1. We need to hold them, and they need to be held.

Our babies did not grow in our bellies. We have not had the past nine months bonding and learning to love this little bundle. Our baby does not recognize their new mama’s voice or heartbeat or anything about this new life. Bonding starts the moment they are placed in our arms, but that doesn’t mean it happens in an instant. It can take time. Friends and family, let us new mamas hold our babies and love on them. Give us time to bond with our new baby, after all, we were strangers a few days before now. We are not being selfish by asking that you let us hold our new baby rather than pass him around for everyone to hold. We are mothering our new baby; we are getting to know each other.

2. We are new parents, and we need help too.

For most families, after the birth of their babies, friends, family and neighbors bring in meals or groceries, offer to watch older siblings and help out in any way they can. But when it’s the adoption of a new baby, those things are sometimes forgotten. “It’s not like you’re healing from a birth.” I have heard this statement too many times to count, and it’s hurtful. It’s true, I’m not healing from a birth. But who doesn’t appreciate a well-meaning neighbor stopping by to say hello, offers to watch kids, or bring a meal to their door? Heck, I’ll even take the pizza delivery man knocking at my door if it means I don’t have to cook or clean up dinner.

3. There are new emotions that come with a new baby

An adoption placement is our pregnancy and birth all wrapped up into one single moment. It is our moment of becoming parents. While I may not be healing from a delivery, I am healing from watching another woman’s heart break in order for me to become a mom. There can be a lot of guilt that comes with that. I will be happy that I have a new baby, but I am heartbroken for the woman who is no longer parenting her baby.

4. Please do not ask who his “real mom” is, and why she “gave him up.”

I am his real mom. By saying that, I am not saying his birth mom is any less of a mom. We have different roles; we are both special to him. He will need love from both of us and has room to love both of us.

Do not ask how old she is, or what race she is. Do not assume that the birth father is out of the picture. Do not ask why she is “giving him up.” Birth moms do not “give up” their babies. Birth moms carefully and prayerfully place their child into the arms of a family of their choosing. Adoption is about love. Every birth mom has her reasons for making an adoption plan and placing her child for adoption. Those reasons are her own; it is her story, not mine to share. If she wants to share her reasons with you, she will. Do not push her to.

Also, watch this.

5. Ask

Most adoptive families have experienced the gamut of questions. We will answer what we feel comfortable with and not answer other questions. Ask us any question you would ask any other family with a new baby. Yes, our families are created differently, but we are still a new family. Know the correct Positive Adoption Language when talking to us about our adoption. We’ll be super impressed! If you are nervous about asking something just preface it with, “Is this an okay question to ask?” We will tell you.

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Jessie Lundell

Jessie loves CrossFit, competitive waterskiing, cooking, and eating dinner as a family every night. She is the mother, through adoption, of one very active 2-year-old and a new baby boy! Jessie and her husband are the chairs over a local adoption group, United for Adoption, and enjoy advocating for open adoption and educating the community about adoption.


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