Five Things You Can do to Help an Adoptive/Foster Family Part II

Ever wonder what you can do to support adoption/foster care? Maybe you don’t feel as if you can take a child into your home. Maybe you already raised your children and you aren’t ready to start over. It may be that you have a heart for adoption,but it’s not time for you to walk the adoption road, a few more things may need to fall into place. The good news is, you don’t have to adopt/foster to support it. You can support those who do and it’s not terribly difficult.

*If you missed the first in the series, you can find it here.

 External religious worship [[b]religion as it is expressed in outward acts] that is pure and unblemished in the sight of God the Father is this: to visit and help and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need, and to keep oneself unspotted anduncontaminated from the world.” James 1:27

2. Fill in for the family while they get acclimated.

If you haven’t adopted or fostered, you may be scratching your head right now, wondering what that even means. To put it in to some context, when a family brings home a newborn, they may need some meals delivered and if the infant is in PICU for some complications/health issues, they may not be able to fulfill some commitments for a while.

Adoptive/foster parents will disappear off the radar for a while. It’s not because they are not committed to their church body, work, homeschool co-op, school, sport or other activity they had once been active in.

The Bible commands us to visit orphans and widows, There is a reason for that, they may be at home. Maybe they are grieving a life lost, maybe they are stuck in survival mode and struggling with being around people.

The family with foster/adoptive children cocoons, trying with every fiber of their being to get these traumatized children to feel safe, leave survival mode and attach. It’s a tough job (with some children), there is no time or energy left for anything else for a season.

So, fill in for the family. Cover for them. Work the nursery their Sunday. Bring the book club or soccer snack. Don’t ask them to volunteer for anything for this season. Drop by with some dinner or strong coffee, but don’t be put off if you’re not invited to stay for hours and chat.

missionary

Don’t talk about them at church as if they have back-slidden. They are James one twenty seven-ing it all the way in their home mission field. Pretend adoptive/foster families are away in a foreign country if that helps you put it into perspective. Pray for the at-home missionaries just as fervently as you would those who are abroad!

Three Practices that Help Promote Adoption

I love to promote adoption. I could stand on a soap box all day and talk about it. I want more children to be adopted! But, there is a catch.

Adoption isn’t as complicated as it sounds until you get immersed in the system of paper work, caseworkers, therapists, etc.. Talk of all that is enough to scare anyone off the adoption trail.

How do we promote adoption in a positive way?

  1. Don’t give too much info at once.

When Jerry and I began pursuing adoption, a wise friend and adoptive parent told me,

“I’m not going to explain everything. That’s too overwhelming. Let’s just focus on one step at a time.”

Trying to cover every inch of the adoption journey is like sitting a pregnant mama down and giving her all the info she needs until her child goes to college. Less info at the beginning is better. Each step has enough new information to digest.

pregnant mama

2. Don’t hyper- focus on the negative, but tell the truth.

When we began the homestudy process, we were given a stack of material to plough through. Eighty percent of it was negative. I pitched it.

It’s not that I was trying to be unrealistic. I knew what trauma was. I had lived through it. I was looking for material to equip, educate and encourage me. (That’s why I started Positive Adoption).

When the lens of adoption zooms in on the negative, no one is looking for the positive. It takes stepping back from the microscopic and looking at the whole picture.

If the negative is an eight year-old with self-regulation issues, stuck in angry, survivial mode, then the positive is, with some attachment, some regulation skills, leaning how to use the upstairs brain, this child can bond, regulate and smile. He learns how to recognize other emotions and allows himself to feel some. None of these wonderful steps would have occurred without adoption. He would be a name on a page in a file with a sad picture while he grew up in an orphanage.

3. Offer a support group.

When speaking with future foster/adoptive parents, point them to a support group online, in person, or both. Make sure the support group equips, educates and encourages.

No one likes a negative Nelly, but then again, Pollyanna can be a little much at times. We parents need a place to be honest, authentic and know we can leave our masks at home. We are among our own tribe in a support group.

It’s not all about the T-shirt (those are cool), advertising adoption without the provision of support is like inviting someone to join you in your canoe without providing them with a life jacket.

We adoptive parents can go overboard sometimes, trying to spread the good news of adoption. Adoption is positive. We want everyone to know about it. We want to shout it from the rooftops. We just need to practice promoting it in a concise, productive, encouraging and honest way!

*If you are interested in joining Positive Adoption, the live support group, contact me. If you are interested in Empowered to Connect Parent training, send me and email! Here’s an intro:

To contact Kathleen Guire, please email positiveadoption[at]gmail.com . Kathleen will do her best to reply promptly, but please keep in mind that her inbox and her day are both often full!