So, you have a friend who is adopting and you want to help? Great! Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Ask If You Should Ask
Chances are, your friend’s journey to adoption will not be quick. There may be twists and turns, waits and false-starts. Though I do have a few friends whose adoptions were finalized within months, most have taken years from initial inquiry to finalization. So, should you ask how things are going? Maybe.
I have a wise friend who once just started a conversation with: “Do you want to talk about it? Or do you not want to talk about it.” She didn’t even need to specify the “it.” I thought this was the perfect question. Because, at various points along my adoption journey, my answer was “all of the above.” There were times (especially in the beginning), when I wished people would stop asking all the time because I honestly didn’t have answers to their questions. And there were also lots of times (especially a lot farther into the process) when I didn’t want to bring the topic up (because I felt like it was all I talked about), but I desperately wished someone would ask. Not sure how your friend is feeling? Ask if you should ask. And ask again in a few months… this is not a one-time question.
Show Up And Do A Thing
Is your friend fundraising for the adoption? Buy a shirt, help organize the spaghetti dinner or donate your time to sort books for their online auction. Share their fundraisers on your social media pages (being careful not to share more of their story publicly than they are). Perhaps there isn’t a financial need. There is still a need for emotional support. Pray for them and send a text when they come to mind. Send them a card in the mail (yes, really!). And let them know you’re thinking of them with little acts of kindness. Send a gift card for a nice meal out. Offer to watch the kids while they complete adoption related errands (or reconnect with each other for a minute!). If there are travel arrangements to be made (often there will be several trips required if the adoption is not local), your offers of transportation to the airport, house-sitting and longer-term childcare may be especially welcome. Or consider putting together a small travel care package or welcome home gift to let them know that you are thinking of them. In short, be a friend. Just show up and do something.
Celebrate And Make Space For Grief
Especially if the journey to adoption has been long, you may be tempted to throw an over-the-top celebration when your friend’s child finally comes home. While this is certainly a cause for celebration, proceed with caution here. Adoption is a beautiful way to build a family. It is also always rooted in loss. Be sensitive to the needs and emotions of the child and the new parents. Know that a huge gathering at the airport (or their house) might not be the best way to welcome them home. Ask. Be a non-judgmental listening ear. Respect your friend’s needs for privacy or celebration, and be flexible and ready to change the plan if necessary.
Adoptive parents, what would you add? What have your friends done to help you along the way?