There are an estimated 428,000 children in foster care in the United States and 60% of them spend up to five years in the system. Without a family they can call their own, these children are vulnerable to the risk of mental and physical health problems.
According to the U.S Census, less than 2% of American families adopt foster children. Around 60% of Americans have had experience with adoption, either having adopted or knowing someone who has, or placing a child in foster care.
Adoption is the process of transferring and assuming parental rights of a person from one individual to another. It is a beacon of hope for both parties: one is looking for the perfect addition to their family, and the other looking to give their child the love, care, and opportunities they can’t provide.
But adoption is not a smooth ride. Problems and challenges can arise for both adopted parents and children. They need support and help from people around them. It is a delicate and sensitive situation to unconsciously step into, and it can be tough to know how to help.
If you happen to know a relative or a friend who is in the process of adoption then read this article to know how you can help new adoptive parents.
Offer Support and Encouragement
Parents can consider considerable negative stigma when they have chosen to go through the adoption process. The perception that there are or will be underlying problems when parents go through an adoption is sadly a common reaction from many people.
There are impressions that adoption is a second-rate parenthood, or that they have a damaged child. It is a hurtful and pointless idea thrown by strangers to these well-informed parents. This stigma can cause frustration and can lead to depression.
As a person willing to offer help, let them know that you are there to support them in their endeavor and that you believe they will give the child a good life. Refrain from opening questions that lead to undermining the kind of family relationship they will have.
Also, there is a notion that parents will not love the child as they would their biological children. Help them understand that love and attachment is not measured by a DNA match, rather, it is built through bonding and emotional understanding.
Offer Familiarity and Community
Once the adoption process is finished, parents will start spending a lot of the time bonding with their adoptee. This will lead to new habits and daily routines. It can lead to parents feeling isolated and disconnected. Losing their sense of familiarity can lead to loneliness.
During this time, do not hesitate to check on them; send them a text or give them a call. Staying in touch with them goes a long way. This establishes a deeper bond in your relationship and provides comfort that they will desperately need.
Know Your Limitations
Sure, you are providing significant support to the adopting parents or family, but you also need to know your limitations. You need to set boundaries on how you can interact with them and their newly adopted child. Respect the boundaries set by the parents since the child is still in the midst of adjustment.
Adopted children can often be very guarded, and slow to adapt to a new home. During this time, it is best to let the child focus solely on their new parents and home, so limit how much time you spend interacting with the child at first. This is to prevent overwhelming the child and making them uncomfortable.
Giving gifts is a good way to encourage trust in an adopted child. They might have experienced horrible things in the past, and by making this simple gesture, you are giving an impression that you will love and care for them.
It is ideal to give them items that they can enjoy with their new family, and initiate healthy family activities.
This not only applies to the child but the parents also. Give the parents a unique gift, and shows them that you’re excited for them and ready to support them however you can.
For parents, you can share tips they can use for practical needs, such as how to look for a certified babysitter, how to choose the right school, or manage their new financial commitments. This is a great way to initiate conversations, and show them that you’re committed to helping give their child a great home.