There are many ways to support a new adoptive family. Here, you’ll find out what your neighbors want you to know, but may not tell you.
1. New parents are new parents.
Just like Bill and Susie down the street who gave birth last summer to their now-toddler, your neighbors who adopted are new parents, too. Sure, their child may be older, or maybe they’re a newborn; regardless, your neighbors have a new addition, and that’s something to celebrate! Feel free to drop off a meal, coffee, wine . . . you name it. They’ll appreciate it just as any growing family would.
2. Use positive adoption language.
When you visit your neighbors, try to use positive adoption language. Don’t ask about their child’s “real” family. Use broad questions and steer clear of asking detailed questions about their child’s birth parents or familial histories. Whatever details the new family feels comfortable sharing, they’ll likely offer on their own accord. Please understand there are some details your neighbors may not feel comfortable sharing about their child’s adoption. That’s OK. After all, it is their child’s story to share.
3. Don’t make assumptions.
Treat your neighbors like a real family (because they are). Don’t assume their child’s birth parents are teens that came from a drug-ridden, criminal background. Many birth parents make an adoption plan because they simply aren’t in a season to provide all their child deserves.
4. Allow the family time to bond.
Families who adopt likely didn’t get nine months to bond with their child during a pregnancy. Be supportive of your neighbors’ desire to bond with their new child. Attachment can be a big deal for adoptive families. If your neighbor is wearing his/her newborn in a baby carrier around the house, take the cue and don’t ask to hold the baby. If your neighbors adopted an older child, consider getting them a gift card or a board game to help them bond as a family unit.
5. Be supportive.
You’ve got a clear vantage point with your neighbors close by. If you see them on the porch, walk by and check in to see how they’re doing. Every new parent wants to know they’re not alone. Be a part of their village, and let them know they’re doing a great job.
7. Treat their kids the same.
Your friends who just adopted want their child to be treated the same as other kids in the neighborhood. They don’t want their child to feel any different than other kids on the block. Be sure your family makes an effort to include them with neighborhood kickball games or barbecues. They will appreciate knowing they fit in and belong.