When I first started this article I had a cute little list of gifts, photo opportunities, and letters that a family could send to birth parents to show gratitude. Then I found this quote; one of my favorite spiritual leaders said, “Thankfulness is measured by the number of words. Gratitude is measured by the nature of our actions.”

And I realized my list was full of thankfulness, but how did I show gratitude for adoption? What was the nature of my actions that explained my gratitude? The answer to that involved more than a cute little list.

I realized that maybe the first action that can be taken is to advocate for adoption and for birthparents even when no one else is watching. People often have more questions about our son’s birthparents than about him. Curiosity has a strong siren song. I get asked questions like, “Was adoption always their plan?” “Do they regret placing him?” “Does having an open adoption make you feel threatened as a parent?”

Okay whoa, pump the brakes. Most of the time I find that what people are really trying to ask is about the characteristics of a birthparent. This is my favorite advocating moment in all of adoption because I get to teach about courage, selflessness, and love. I get to squeeze my boy a little tighter and remind those who are asking that I get to love, because they loved first. Advocating with kindness shows gratitude for adoption.

But, how do I show gratitude to our son’s birthparents? Our son has Down Syndrome and just recently met the milestone of self-feeding! We are overjoyed and shared our happiness on social media. Within minutes I received a text from our son’s birth mom saying, “Wow! I am so happy! He is a pro at holding that spoon and feeding himself! What a joy! Good job you guys!!”

And then I realized that maybe one of the best ways I can show gratitude to his birthparents is by doing my best to be a great parent! She doesn’t expect perfection, but she does want me to be dedicated and diligent in my efforts towards raising a great little human. And I am honored and trying every day to do just that.

I wish I had a bigger list of actions I take to show gratitude for adoption. It is a goal for me to continue to find ways to not just be thankful, but to show gratitude, too.

What actions do you take to show gratitude for your adoption?