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Supporting: Adoptive Families

How to best support your friend/family member that is going through the adoption process: Adoptive Families.

Just by reading this you are showing your love and care for your family members that are considering adoption. This process can be long, hard, and emotionally and financially taxing. In support we recommend an open heart, open mind, and no judgement. If you can follow those three recommendations you cannot go wrong in supporting you family member or friend that is considering adoption.

In the Initial Investigation Phase

This is the first stage of the adoption process. In this stage the families are potentially mourning the loss of the family they thought they would have, working through it, getting excited for adoption and then investigating what type of adoption is right for them. Be a sounding board, but do not tell them what they should do. It doesn’t matter if you have never been in the adoption community, have a cousin that was adopted or have adopted 20 children yourself. Everyone’s path to their child is their own. Remember if your family member or friend is considering adoption there is a chance they have already gone through other avenues of forming their family. Do not ask them why they don’t want their “own biological kids” and do not ask them about the path that lead them there. Celebrate this new journey with them, while offering your unwavering support and love.

In the Home Study Phase

In this phase mountains of paperwork are being completed, as well as trainings and home visits. Additionally preferences are examined and the profile book is being created. Support them in their paperwork. Ask them if there is anything you can help provide. That could mean sharing pictures with them for their profile book or potentially a reference letter. It could mean proofreading their language in their applications or just simply having a glass wine to celebrate when everything is complete. Show you are ready and willing to help but always let them come to you when they are ready to ask for that help.

In the Active Waiting/Matching Phase

This is the hardest, longest, and scariest phase of the adoption process. In this phase all of the paperwork has been completed, the profile books are out there ready to be presented and the adoptive families just have to wait to be chosen. They are constantly asking themselves the questions “will we ever become parents” and “when we will get that call telling us we were chosen or that the child is already here”. They do not also need to hear those questions from you. If they come to you for a shoulder to cry on because the wait is unbearably long, be that shoulder. There are so many disappointments that can happen during this phase. They could be presenting with 10 other families and not be chosen or they could be chosen and that birth family decide to parent. But also so much joy, when they are chosen, when they meet the expectant family for the first time, or see an ultrasound picture. As soon as they feel comfortable with telling their people, you will know. Let them come to you with updates about this time. When they are ready to confide in you rejoice with them and offer to help in whatever way they feel comfortable.

In the Placement Phase

This phase of the adoption process includes the adoptive family meeting their child, and possibly the birth family, for the first time. It is a beautiful, happy, but also sorrowful time. Do not ask private questions about the birth family. Do not ask why they are placing, that is not information necessary for you to have. If your family member wants to discuss the situation with you to get your feedback, then and only then can you know this child’s story. If they do not want to discuss it with you, just ask them what they need. Maybe you could set up a little sip and see baby shower, or a meal train for the new family when they arrive home.

In the Raising of the Child Phase

Simply put, this child is now a part of your family or fr-amily. Treat them as such. If you know their story, keep it to yourself. That is the child’s story to tell who they please. If they come to you asking about their adoption, you simply say “your first family loved you so much they wanted to give you a life they couldn’t provide at the time and so they chose your parents and we are so grateful”. Any other questions need to be addressed by the parents. 

All in all remember the three ways to support: open heart, open mind, and no judgment. Thank you for taking the time to read this. It shows your love of your friend or family member that is navigating this journey. They will be ever grateful and always remember your support in this time.

*The sentiments and policies expressed in this blog represent Cradle of Life Staff and/or Clients and do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or policies of all adoption agencies.