The night our son’s first mom chose us to be his parents was also when we realized our great need for good, real-life friendships who understood us.

It was a late Thursday night, we had recently moved, and our home was a cluttered mess. What was to be our nursery was packed full of boxes and storage bins waiting to be unpacked.

We had little to no baby items; our soon-to-be-son was already born and waiting for us.

Around 11 p.m. our friend Emily drove across Portland to drop off an infant carrier, swaddle and receiving blankets, onesies, diapers, wipes, and the bare necessities we might need as we flew to meet our son the next day.

She stayed late into the night, talking to us about cocooning and attachment. She taught me how to pretzel myself into ridiculously long fabric to use as a wrap to hold our soon-to-be-son close.

Emily knew the importance of skin-to-skin and cocooning. She also knew the importance of grabbing ahold of the identity as a multiracial family overnight. She understood what “tomorrow” held for us more than any of our closest, real-life friends.

Over a year and a half later, we stand on the other side of that night: two adults growing by two feet into a family three (and now four). We grew from being a white family to being a multiracial family by adoption.

On the other side of that night, more friendships than I could have dared to imagine have been formed. Friends in our community and friends online. The kind of friendships that breathe grace through humility and honesty and tragedy.

The thing about friendships made in adoption, is that you understand one another on deeper levels than anyone else could possibly even attempt to. I love my family, but none of them can understand us as closely and intimately as our friends walking similar paths.

We need friends who aren’t afraid to talk about trauma, tragedy, loss, and therapy. We need friends who are walking through the thick of the mess of adoption. We need friends who know what it’s like to raise multiracial families in a not-so-multiracial world. We need friends who get it on deeper levels than someone who isn’t wading through the journey.

I have not met all of my friends made in adoption; many of them are online friends I now text with. These are mamas or adoptees I count as gifts. They grab ahold of the complexity of sorrow and joy, infused in adoption.

Adoption has given me a community of friendships made up of adoptees, adoptive parents, potential adoptive parents, foster parents, and birth parents I wouldn’t have otherwise had.

It has given me the gift of so many transparent, gut wrenching, honest friendships. Friendships with hard but necessary conversations.

Without the friendships of [transracial] adoptees and birth parents, I wouldn’t know or understand or see the world the way I do now. My growing-understanding would be far more limited, far less whole. I wouldn’t be as empathetic or thoughtful, I wouldn’t be as slow to speak or quick to sit on my hands.

I owe so much to the friendships I’ve made via adoption. The best ones are the honest ones, the ones that both cry and celebrate, both listen and sit with us. The best friends in adoption are the ones who speak the truth, even if it’s uncomfortable, because they know it can damage to stay silent.

But not only are these friendships good for me…they’re good for our children. Both biological and adopted. Our kids need to know our family isn’t the only one created this way. Our kids need to have friends who understand them and the unique way we have been made into a family.

The friendships made in adoption are life-changing. I am forever grateful for the sweet gifts of friendships.