When you meet an adoptive parent- someone who has adopted a child, what should you say to them? What would they love to hear? What is the right thing to say? Do you wonder..?
You’ve probably met someone who has an adopted a child or has been adopted themselves, whether it is obvious or not. You may be curious about the process of adoption (“how much does it cost?”), or about their decision to expand their family through adoption (“can’t you have your own babies?”), or about their child’s heritage (“is she from ___?”), etc. But when you’re seeing this family in the supermarket or at school, running to an activity or enjoying their time together, the truth is: their privacy trumps your curiosity. We wouldn’t ask a stranger about their finances, their bedroom behavior, or their medical issues, and the same courtesy applies towards adoptive families.
So what would adoptive parents like to hear? If you have a friend who just recently adopted a child (any age), they would love to hear:
Think of what you’d say to anyone who has just had a baby- they have expanded their family and you are welcoming and loving on their new son and daughter.
2. I’m so happy for your family!
Whether it is a domestic adoption, fostering and then adopting, or if they went through an international adoption, the process is long and and the paperwork is endless. A new baby or child is always a celebration and cause for happiness.
3. Can I bring you dinner?
The intense bonding and attachment that needs to happen after an adoption is often isolating for the families. Moms and dads may want to spend as much time as possible with their new child to provide a sense of security, and develop a routine. Often times the new family will restrict visitors so that they can work on developing attachment. Instead of offering to hold the new baby or child, or offering to babysit, often the most helpful thing you can do is to bring over dinner (flowers, a bottle of wine, etc:) and let the family “cocoon.”
4. You’re doing a great job.
One day I was in Target, trying to run around and get last minute snacks, diapers, and sunscreen for a beach trip. My kids were all whining about being hungry (eek, it was 2pm and we hadn’t had lunch yet), my little one got his finger stuck in the cart somehow and wouldn’t stop screaming, and my 8 year old had just been pushed into the deodorant stand and knocked a bunch over. The only thing that would stop my toddler from crying was if I sung Old MacDonald again and again, running out of animals that could possibly be found on a farm. As I started a new verse, “there was a…. tiger,” this little old lady turned the corner and clapped her hands to her cheeks and gasped. I was sure my kids had said something or gotten in her way, so I quickly tried to herd everyone to the side. She came over and put her hand on my shoulder and said “You’re doing a great job, mom.”
It was exactly what I needed to get through Target. 🙂