The Best Ways to Support an Adoptive Mom (from an Adoptive Mom)
I’m sitting here trying to write a piece on how to love your fellow adoptive mom.
I want to tell you how wonderful and beautiful adoption is, and the beautiful stories that go with it. But I’m also sitting here with tears running down my face, feeling drained from walking kiddos through some of the hardest things I have ever faced.
Adoption is the amazing process that made me a mom. I have been forever changed by the hardest journey I have ever loved. I really wouldn’t have it any other way.
Adoption is also hard and lonely sometimes. I spend my life in the in-between of wanting to be “normal” and wanting to share the joy (and pain) of what “different” can look like.
I’m aware that there is no such thing as “normal,” but I am also aware that so many of us struggle with comparison. I want to share with the world that as an adoptive mom, it is ok to look different, sound different, and have different needs than your friends.
I have found that when we start sharing our needs, we see that we aren’t really alone or that different. The weight of the hard stories becomes a little lighter when someone helps share our burden.
Feeling too much pressure as a mom? Read our post: Dear Mama, the Pressure is Off
4 Ways to Support an Adoptive Mom
To that end, I’ve put together a list of 4 Ways to Support an Adoptive Mom. If you’re looking for tips on how to support an adoptive mom in your life, please keep reading…
1.Use Thoughtful Verbiage
One time, I was in WalMart and a guy that I didn’t know very well came up to us and asked, “Which of these kids are your real kids?”
After telling him, “They all are,” he said, “I mean, obviously, but which of them are real brothers and sisters?”
To that, I pasted a smile on and again replied, “They all are.”
One of my sons looked at the guy and saw that this conversation wasn’t really going anywhere, so he just said to him, “Sir, we’re all adopted!”
“Real kids” is a frustrating term, and insinuates that something is missing. I know that he was trying to use the word biological, but that sounds very different to little ears.
People have also asked if we adopted because we couldn’t have our “own kids.” I want to add here that adoption wasn’t our Plan B.
We didn’t adopt because we couldn’t have kids. We adopted because that was where God led us and it was how He designed our family. Each broken piece came together to make one whole, crazy, beautiful family.
Most moms I know love to share their stories of their sweet little ones.
Adoptive moms are no different. Please ask. But can I give you some tips on asking? Use thoughtful, supportive verbiage.
Here are some keywords that might come in handy:
Biological: the family you were born into (your first family)
Adoptive: the family that adopted you (your forever family)
Birth Story: everyone has a birth story, and every story is a miracle. These stories are not ours to just share freely unless they are about our own birth. Personally, I am very protective of my kiddos’ birth stories. They can share when they are ready, and I will be happy to help them, but I have committed to not being an over-sharer of their private details.
Open Adoption: an adoption that is open to contact (and relationship) from (and with) the biological family
Closed Adoption: records are sealed and there is no contact or relationship with the biological family
Domestic Adoption: adoptions within the United States (mine were all domestic)
International Adoption: adopting from other countries (many of our friends have adopted internationally)
The adoption process ends with a judge proclaiming that legally this child is yours “as if they were birthed to you.”
These are real kiddos with real feelings. I am their very real mom who loves them with my whole heart, just as if I birthed them.
I don’t necessarily even want to be known as an “adoptive mom.” I just want to be known as a “Mom.” I’m just a mom, with all the shortcomings and all of the abundance of love that sometimes doesn’t feel like quite enough.
Ask about our family’s story, or about the kids’ biological backgrounds—because I love to share the stories of how God blessed our family with five amazing adoptions and one biological birth— but please ask with kindness and sensitivity.
And know that I will always protect my little ones’ ears and hearts over answering questions.
2.Offer Hands-on Help
I asked a friend of mine what she would say to anyone inquiring how they could support her adoptive family, and she responded with, “I would ask that others consider what it looks like to graciously support an adoptive family, while knowing that they may not know the whole story but that we are all doing our best!”
Through my tears I couldn’t even respond.
That support and grace looks different for every family. So, I would say: ask! Check in on your adoptive friends who seem like they are doing ok, because tomorrow they might not be.
Here are some practical ways to support an adoptive mom with hands-on help:
- Cook them a meal. (I can guarantee they wouldn’t hate a night off from cooking).
- Be a friend. Offer a cup of coffee and a genuine “How are you really doing?”
- Help clean or organize.
- Offer to babysit or help teach the kids things. Are you great at gardening, fishing, or baking? Offer to teach these skills to the kids during an afternoon.
- Get to know and love their child.
- Pray for them. This is one of the best gifts you can give. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t need that kind of love?
For more encouragement read our post: Soul Care
3.Reconsider the notion “I could never do that.”
To anyone who has ever had the sentiment, “I could never do that,” when thinking about foster care or adoption, I would like to challenge that sentiment by asking you to reconsider.
We all have things in our lives that others could look at and say, “I could never do that.”
Maybe you think you could never do that, but I don’t know anyone who says it is easy to lay down their lives to serve others. We were all made to do hard things. It wouldn’t be called sacrifice if it was easy.
Maybe that’s exactly the point! If life was always easy, then we wouldn’t need God’s power and strength. Whether you are called to adopt or not, the only way to get through this life is in God’s strength.
What if you don’t feel called to adopt? How can you help from right where you are?
I am so glad you asked, as it leads me to Number 4 on my list of how to support an adoptive mom…
4.Support the Cause
I am not saying that everyone is called to adopt.
We are all called to care for orphans.
James 1:27 declares, “True spirituality that is pure in the eyes of our Father God is to make a difference in the lives of the orphans, and widows in their troubles, and to refuse to be corrupted by the world’s values.” (The Passion Translation)
True spirituality that is pure in the eyes of our Father God is to make a difference in the lives of the orphans, and widows in their troubles, and to refuse to be corrupted by the world’s values.James 1:27 (The Passion Translation)
We are all called to look after those in need.
Here are some organizations that work directly with adoptive families and the foster care community:
Their mission: Breathing life and love into the foster and adoptive families through service and support.
The Forgotten Initiative
Their mission: Helping you support the foster care community through awareness, encouragement, and advocacy
Lifesong for Orphans
Their mission: To mobilize the Church to care for the orphan, where each member can provide a unique and special service: some to adopt, some to care, and some to give.
Faithbridge Foster Care
Their mission: FaithBridge Foster Care is a nonprofit organization dedicated to mobilizing, organizing and equipping local churches to solve their community’s foster care crisis.
These are organizations that I know are doing amazing work in their communities. You may know of other organizations, please let us know too!
How Will YOU Choose to Support an Adoptive Mom?
Thank you for reading this article and seeking ways to help a sista out.
Now that you have these tips in your back pocket, I pray that you will put them to good use.
Tell me, what’s your favorite way to support an adoptive mom (whether it’s on this list or one that should be added)? Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!