Celebrating a new family member
With Mother’s Day rapidly approaching, have you ever considered what it’s like to be an adoptive or foster care mom?
Most children and families involved in foster care and adoption will agree the ride is not always a smooth one (though is any family’s?), but the destination—a permanent home for a child—makes the journey of utmost importance.
Nevertheless, unlike a pregnancy with a predetermined timeline (that baby is coming around nine months whether you are ready or not!), each placement is a unique experience involving the entire family—an experience those who have not fostered or adopted a child or youth may not understand.
For that reason, we asked adoptive and foster care families what the people in their lives can do to be supportive. Here is what they had to say:
Michelle D.: People have given us grocery gift cards, clothes and toys when we got our first placement! One thing that would have been helpful is occasional meals those first few weeks. I will ask for this type of help next time we get a new placement. Also, our family and friends gave us space and took our lead about visiting/meeting the children, which allowed us to bond and get settled as a family.
Tara W.: Friends have given us clothes, baby items, baby equipment, and gift cards. Our church brought us meals for a week when we got a two-day-old girl just as they do for people when they have a baby.
I feel that acknowledging my children as my children and not my “adopted” children is the biggest help anyone could give us. They are my children—period!
Casey M.: Our friends threw a baby shower for us—this helped so much! One, it made me feel like every other mom out there (which was very helpful to me) and two, it helped with the many things we needed. Something else that was always helpful was when people just did something they knew we needed without our having to ask or even think about it.
Judi D.: I think when people can treat your foster and adopted children just like your other kids, that is important. Also, I think it just helps when people are there for you and support you in what you are doing. Fostering is challenging because you never know if/when you are getting a child, and if/when he or she will leave. I don’t think people realize how emotionally difficult that is for a family. We felt as if we lost a child when a couple of our little ones were “reunified.” I don’t think people always understand that. Friends and family just need to be there with love and support!
Mike I.: When friends/family cared for [the children already part of our family] …made meals for us … held “adoption showers,” and prayed for us.
Eleanor D.: Frozen meals were brought to us that we kept on hand for the first few days after a placement. One friend came over and did laundry for me, which was awesome after having gone from zero to two kids overnight! One person offered to take our dog for the first few days. My dad went and bought diapers. Other helpful items included gift cards to the local consignment store to obtain clothing for kids and loans of age-appropriate toys for short-term placements—those were a huge help to us!
Rita K.: I feel that acknowledging my children as my children and not my “adopted” children is the biggest help anyone could give us. They are my children—period!
Gail M.: My mother-in-law would call and ask how many children we had for Christmas, Easter, and other holidays, so that everyone felt included and loved!
Kathy S.: My sister-in-law gave me a baby shower that was very foster- and adoption-friendly. Her gift to me was a handmade baby book specific to my son and his circumstances. I treasure it! Don’t judge, don’t ask why, just love the kid for being a kid who is now part of an awesome family.
Corrine S.: Our friends helped us shop for and put together the furniture for the nursery.
Perhaps someone you know …a neighbor, family member, co-worker or friend …is opening his or her home to a new family member. You can be part of supporting the family and welcoming that child to his or her new home in so many creative ways!
Please feel free to comment with any other ideas you have either used or heard of that would bless families taking part in fostering or adopting.
By Melissa Kindall
Social Media and Special Communications Project Manager
Corporate Communications & Public Relations
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