It is beautiful. It is the gospel in action. At the very heart of why Jesus came. We as believers have been adopted into the family of God and have become co-heirs with Christ. Adoption is a big deal. Jesus was basically adopted by his earthly father, Joseph. Moses was adopted as an infant and escaped genocide so he could grow up to be a huge part of God’s plan to rescue Israel from Egypt.
Adoption is a major theme throughout the Bible so I know that God’s heart is for vulnerable children to be in families. I am an adoptive mom so I don’t just write these words passionately from a place of no action. I write them from a place of living what I say I believe. But adoption is HARD.
Being the mother of a young woman who grew up with no family, who experienced trauma, didn’t have important developmental experiences, and really doesn’t understand what it means to be in a family is HARD. I have done nothing in my life that is more difficult than this. But it is worth it.
It is literally a miracle that we were able to adopt her into our family. A MIRACLE. If you don’t know our adoption story then I am happy to tell you in you know me in real life but maybe I will write it someday for those who don’t know. But that isn’t the point of this post. The point is to talk about how to support adoptive families.
Maybe you know an adoptive family and you gave money towards their adoption costs or took them a meal after the child came home, or gave a nice gift at the adoption party. All of that is wonderful and believe me the family was grateful so I don’t want to make it small.
But adoption is the long game. We, as the parents, are walking alongside this person we didn’t know before and still don’t really know through some really hard things. Trauma, healing, birth family questions, abandonment, they reject us and our care, meltdowns, rages, manipulation, past hurts, food issues, and the list goes on. This goes on for years.
The paperwork, fundraising, and integration into the home is the easiest part of adoption so adoptive families need support past that first month home with their child. They need a village of people who will do a few specific things.
Check on Them Regularly
This doesn’t mean that you need to call them every day or even text them every day but a nice little bi-weekly or monthly check-in will mean the world to adoptive families. Those moms and dads are in the trenches. Maybe one week is an amazing week filled with fun, hope, and calm while the next week could be a total dumpster fire.
During those tough times a random text saying “I was thinking about you. How is it going? How can I pray? Can I bring you a coffee?” could literally be the life preserver they needed that week. It really doesn’t matter if the adoption was last week or years ago, trust me, these check-ins are important.
Randomly Show Up With A Meal
I love a good meal train. Good people set them up and rally others to sign up and bring a meal to a family welcoming a new child. It is beautiful. But through our adoption journey, I can’t tell you how many times I really wish someone would just show up with a random meal because I’m drowning that week or that day. Cooking dinner seems like an impossible task while I’m fielding a trauma-fueled meltdown while trying to still be loving and engage with the other people in my house AND help with homework.
There is not a single adoptive family I know that wouldn’t welcome someone showing up with a casserole on a random Thursday. If you feel like the Lord is telling you to show up with a Lasagna to someone’s house but you think it would be weird, it isn’t. Just take the lasagna and bless that family.
Here is a big one. And you may be wondering why I would put this in a blog post about supporting adoptive families but it is important so just stay with me. We are living through some tough things. So are our kids both our adopted kids and bio kids. There is trauma, secondary trauma, and current trauma that stems from past trauma happening all around us. We are doing our best. 9 times out of 10 adoptive parents have taken all of the classes, all of the trainings, are in all of the support groups, and done all of the things.
They truly want to be the best parents they can be for all of their children regardless of how they came to be a part of their family. Sometimes though people on the outside who mean well don’t believe the parents when they tell them what is going on.
Why wouldn’t people believe them? Well, that is a great question with a pretty clear answer. It’s because the children who entered the family through adoption don’t act the same way in public as they do at home. Many times they are angels with beautiful smiles and helpful attitudes. Many times the difference is so big that it is unbelievable to those on the outside. And honestly, speaking as an adoptive parents, it is unbelievable to us too.
But believe the parents. Don’t say “oh I can’t IMAGINE that sweet child acting like that!” Or “that is just a teenager thing” or “my bio kids do that too!” I can promise you it isn’t the same. I have four bio kids and yes after school dysregulation is a thing and they do tend to behave differently toward other people. But this is a whole different level. I had never seen anything like what I have seen as the mother of a child who grew up in an orphanage.
It is like the difference between Mario fighting those annoying little turtles that fling themselves around and try to knock him down and Mario fighting Bowser at the end of the game. It is a stark difference. So please believe these parents. Give them a big hug, a cup of coffee, and a nonjudgemental safe space to be heard and loved. This is huge when it comes to supporting families to continue on in this task they have been given.
Just Give Them the Biggest Hug When You See Them
Just this. There is really nothing else to say. There is a lady at church that I make a beeline for when I see her. She is a mom who has been through it and lived to tell the tale with joy and love. So she knows on a level many others don’t. And she gives the BEST hugs. I mean the best. Melt all of your cares away kind of hugs. Be that person for your adoptive mom friend. It makes a difference.
This is hard work. This is kingdom work. These families need encouragement daily. Write a note, put a sweet gift on the porch and ignore the screaming, or just say some kind words when you see them. This is going to go so far in helping them keep going.
Pray for Them
If you have read any of the posts then you know that we believe prayer is the most you can do, not the least you can do. That is just as true for this situation as it is for any other situation. Pray for adoptive families. Pray that they will have peace, patience, strength, love, and joy in the midst of pain and chaos. Pray they will have a community to walk with them and love them through all of the hard things.
This will be a game-changing thing if you pray earnestly for these families.
Love Their Child
Love their child. Even if you see the hard parts, the fits, the meltdowns, the anger, the disrespect, love them anyway. Love them in a way that pushes them to Jesus and their parents who love them. Don’t love them in a way that enables the behavior and attachment issues because that isn’t love and it does nothing for the family unit.
I don’t think this needs any explanation.
Adoptive families don’t need your judgment because frankly, we are judging ourselves. We are our own worst critics and if you think we are doing something poorly I can almost guarantee that we think it’s worse. We are intimately aware of our shortcomings and failures as adoptive parents. We are. So we don’t need anyone else to judge us for anything. And it isn’t your job. Your job is to love the adoptive families well so they can stay in the trenches and do the hard work of loving children who often don’t know how to let someone love them.
We will take your love and encouragement and even the hard truth from those we have given permission to speak into the situation but hold the judgment.
I know some of this might be hard to hear and maybe you don’t agree with all of it. That’s okay. You don’t have to agree but this is written based on my personal experience as an adoptive mom. The things I need, wish I had more of, and what I wish I had less of. I would love to hear in the comments if there is something you needed as an adoptive parent that isn’t on this list so we can all learn and grow together.
Are you looking for a community or someone to grab coffee with who is in a similar life season? We’d love to connect with you and get to know you better! Below you will find a few people that can’t wait to meet you, shoot us an email so we can make a plan!
Tyler OJ Campus
Teresa Ator: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bethanie Tayler: email@example.com
Tyler UB Campus
Max Heller: firstname.lastname@example.org
Marthe Durosier email@example.com
Molly Pontius: firstname.lastname@example.org
Debra Kirby: email@example.com