Ever since I can remember, it’s been my heart’s desire to become an adoptive mom. As my wedding day neared four years ago, I began researching adoption and following blogs that documented the adoption journey.
Even though I was a healthy 21-year-old with no indication that my husband or I would have trouble conceiving, I still longed to add to our family through adoption.
Four years later, and I have two biological children, and a heart that still longs to one day adopt. As my husband and I patiently wait for the day that we can one day begin our own journey to adoption, we recognize that we can still be adoption advocates, without having been directly involved ourselves.
How do you support adoption when you aren’t an adoptive parent? How can you become a part of the adoption community when you do not have first-hand experience?
- Invest in the lives of adopted children
This summer I opened my home to a 1-year-old boy who had been recently adopted by his foster parents. For a few mornings a week, I provided a safe and secure environment for a child who needed to know there are safe and loving people willing to care for and love him, outside of his immediate family. We loved our mornings together and I watched as a once timid little boy began to take over my house and bloom into the vibrant and fun-loving child he is today.
I learned through baby-sitting Pierce that one way of supporting an adoptive family is by opening your heart and home to an adopted child. All children need strong adult role models beyond their own family, but children who have been adopted really need this. By providing a safe and loving environment where they can be free to play and have fun, you give the new parents peace of mind and a break, and help the adoptive child learn to trust other’s outside of their home.
- Advocate for your friends who are adopting
Whether it’s through friends within your community, or families many miles away, there are plenty of opportunities to become an adoption advocate. More importantly, become an advocate for a specific family.
There are plenty of ways to advocate for families of adoption, from sharing their social media updates, to purchasing items from fundraisers, to running fundraisers to support their adoption.
Another way to support those who have adopted is by educating yourself and others on what is and isn’t appropriate to say to an adoptive family. Spend any number of time with a family that has adopted, and you’ll know that they experience many invasive and insensitive questions. Knowing what is and isn’t appropriate to say is important, and there are plenty of articles, like this one, to share on your social media to make others aware too.
- Fundraise/Throw Showers
Families who adopt typically do so at great financial expense. Some families choose international adoption, others go through a private agency, but regardless, adoption can be an expensive and lengthy process. Get involved in fundraising and help your friends with any projects that they may have.
My young daughter requested donations to our friend’s international adoption fund in lieu of gifts. Get the entire family involved in adoption awareness and fundraising.
Also remember that many people that adopt don’t get the opportunity to have a baby shower. Consider throwing them a surprise party or a birthday celebration for their adopted child.
- Remain sensitive to the needs of your friends who are struggling with infertility, miscarriage, and the adoption journey.
This is something that I continue to struggle with and remind myself of constantly. I am at a stage in my life where many people that I know are getting pregnant, and learning to be sensitive to those that struggle with infertility and loss has been important to me. Also keep in mind that you don’t know everyone’s story, even if you know them quite well. Some people choose to keep their infertility or miscarriage private, so don’t just assume couples don’t “want” children, or a woman with multiple children has never experienced the loss of a child.
When a group of women are chatting about pregnancy, birth stories, and nursing horror stories, I try to remember to be sensitive to those in the room who cannot relate. Sometimes I’ll bring up topics that they can be included in, or just remain silent and choose not to contribute any of my own stories.
- Keep your heart open to adoption in the future
Perhaps adoption isn’t an option for you right now. Unfortunately, due to my age, size of my home, and income, I cannot adopt at this particular stage of my life. But that doesn’t mean the possibility of having my own adoption story is forever lost.
Keep your heart open to the possibility and bring it back to the table every few years.
At the end of the day, it’s an honour to be in the life of an adoptive family. Being a good friend to an adoptive family is simple: treat them the way you’d treat any other friend you love, with empathy, respect, and sensitivity to their needs.