Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Ways to support a family in the process of adopting


I meet so many parents in the process of adopting.  They tell me such great things about being supported by friends and family.  So, I thought I would create a reference list for all of us.  If you helped me with ideas on Facebook, thank you so much.  Here is the list.
 Before/during the process:
- Be there as a friend and good listener. Don't judge that the wait is really not that long. Share the wait. Be available to just talk.  Be positive.  Don't ask “how much longer?”.  A kinder question is “what's the next step?”.

-  Show genuine interest in what the family is doing to prepare for child.

-  Treat this child as a person even before they are home.  Call them by name, if you know it.  The updates that parents get are like sonogram pics; share the development of their child.

-  Listen to the specifics - how long the process will be, what each document means. 

- Create some kind of ritual that marks milestones.  Like a special lunch out when each stage is completed.  Or, make a craft together that can be for the child's room when they come home.

-  Get the adoptive Mom, Dad or both, out of the house for a break.  Iced tea in the garden or watch a mindless comedy. A relaxing little break.  

-  Throw a party or shower for the parents. The child's age does not matter.  They will still need new things for their child who is coming home.  Celebrate with them as they wait.

-  Assist in preparation for travel and the gottcha day.  Offer suitcases, packing info, make some frozen dishes for the family to share upon return or for the children who are not traveling.

-  If you have technical/computer expertise, offer it.  Help them get their VPN (Virtual Private Network) set up.  Go over how to download pics, etc.

-  If there is an adoption issue, a match falls thru, be there to support, cry with them and just listen.  Your love and support means the most at this time.

-  Support from your church, synagogue, place of worship means a lot.  Tell them and let them share in the process. One of the most popular suggestions was to pray for the family and their child.

-  Help the family hold a fundraiser or throw a party to fundraise.  A popular suggestion that everybody liked was to hold a yard sale.  People raise amazing amounts at multi-family yard sales.  Any amount helps the family with paying for an expensive adoption.
While the family is in-country:
-  Email, Facebook your love and support.  It means a lot to the family to know they are supported in their journey.  

-  If the siblings stay at home, try to visit while Mom and Dad are away. Maybe arrange a play date, or a special movie outing.  You can post on your Facebook so Mom and Dad know everyone is supporting the kids at home.

-  Help with dog sitting or dog walking, feed the cats, other pet care too. Check on the house, etc. Anything to decrease the stress level.
When the family comes home:
- Check with the family before they arrive home to see if it is okay to create an airport welcoming committee.

-  Be available, but don't hover, call or text to check in with them.  Respect the fact that the family is cocooning.  

- Offer to do the grocery shopping.

- Offer to do mundane chores such as the laundry, carpooling for the siblings.  

-  Offer more frozen meals.

-  Arrange a play date with the siblings so the Mom and Dad can settle and bond with the newest family member.

- Create a “first days home” survival basket that includes: Starbucks or Dunkin gift cards. Something pretty-smelling for mom to remind her to take care of herself. A hobby related gift for Dad. A group gift like pails and shovels in the summer, or bubbles, something the whole family can have fun with.  An age appropriate book to read to newly adopted child.  Some goodies or DVD for the siblings. A take-out restaurant coupon.  Dog walking coupons. Coupons you make for free babysitting, for the siblings or the whole bunch.  Even an hour can make a difference.  

-  Have the fridge stocked with food for the family when they come home.  Make sure to include the all important paper products.  

-  Once the family has settled in, ask mom over for a cup of tea.  Let her share her feelings, struggles, but don't judge.  

I hope this helps and everyone can share this with their friends.  If you have more suggestions, let me know.  I will continue to update the list as new suggestions come in.  Wishing everyone the best in their journey.

Peace, 
Pat