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Supporting Adoptive Families – After the Airport
I know there has been a little delay in this series but I wanted to wait until we had been home long enough before I wrote this all out in hopes I would have lots of information to share.
The adoption announcement has come and gone, the family finally got their long awaited referral, now they’ve just arrived home. Exhausted, jet lagged, hungry and happy. How do you help them now?
GIVE THEM SPACE
Chances are they need a little time to get over their jet lag before being bombarded by company. How long this is varies based on the family, if you don’t know if you are welcome or not, just ask!
RESPECT THEIR PHYSICAL BOUNDARIES
Because the family is going through such a time of bonding, please do not hug, touch or hold the children unless given the go ahead. Bonding can be a tricky process, especially with older children.
BRING THEM MEALS
Remember how they are jeg lagged, tired and hungry? Well, the last thing they want to do while being jet lagged and while they are getting used to an additional child in their life is to cook meals. Offer to bring a hot meal or even a freezer meal they can pull out at any time (like 3am when they are all awake and starving).
STOCK THEIR FRIDGE
Kind of in the same vein as the one above but chances are they won’t be able to get to the grocery store for the first few days and they probably cleaned out their fridge and possibly pantry before travelling so purchasing a few items for the fridge and pantry so they don’t starve in the first few days would be awesome.
OFFER TO WATCH ANY BIO KIDS
The transition can be a tough one and sometimes biological children could really use a break from their adoptive siblings. Especially in the beginning when they are getting used to them being around all the time. And if they adopt a toddler like we did the only child can go from being able to do what she wants to do all the time to having a little brother who is always getting in her stuff.
UNDERSTAND THAT OUR CHILDREN MAY ACT YOUNGER THAN THEIR AGE AND GET EXCITED WITH US WHEN WE ARE EXCITED ABOUT WHAT MAY SEEM LIKE SMALL MILESTONES
Because of how/where they have been raised for the first few years adoptive children will often act younger than their age. In most cases they will never really had any one-on-one attention before so chances are high that they will be delayed in some way. It doesn’t mean it’s permanent or our children are dumb, they just haven’t had the opportunities we so often take for granted (even something as small as someone sitting down with them and passing a ball back and forth). And a milestone like a child touching a plant without freaking out might not seem like a big deal to you but for a child who has displayed signs of a tactile sensitivity is really is a big deal, we’d love for you to be excited right along with us.
UNDERSTAND THAT WE MIGHT NOT HAVE THE SAME EXPECTATIONS FOR THEM AS YOU DO FOR YOUR BIOLOGICAL CHILDREN OR EVEN THAT WE HAD FOR OUR BIOLOGICAL CHILDREN
This one can be a hard one but it’s definitely one I have struggled with. The biggest part for me has been bringing Ephraim to church. He spent the first 18 months of his life in the same home (minus the first few months when he was in the hospital) and was never expected to sit still. To uproot him from all that he knew and take him to church where so many expect their young children to sit still and quietly for the hour long service definitely makes me feel like I’m on display and being judged. Whether or not I am actually being judged I don’t really know, I just know that I feel like it. I feel like I always need to explain that this is really new to him and we are working on other, bigger things and I don’t expect him to sit still through the entire service (the quietly part I am working on, and it’s slow but there has been improvements).
Sometimes we need something and don’t even know what it is, or other times we know exactly what it is but we are so tired of always asking for help that we don’t want to tell you. So if you could develop telepathic abilities we would really appreciate that. Or at least send a message and check in and see if there is anything you can do.
We know we couldn’t have gotten this far without your prayers and all adoptive families need them through every stage, even once they are home.
For those adoptive families who have been through this stage,
what would you have to add?
As someone who is adopted and has an adopted sibling I absolutely love this post and this series. I think because for families where adoption is part of them and who they are, it can be hard to understand why other people don’t understand what you need or are going through. I love that more and more people are making adoption a part of their lives and their families’ story and I hope that as it becomes even more prevalent, the ways people can help and understand the whole process will become even better understood. Thank you for writing this!!
These are really great suggestions! I’ve never been around a family in the process or early stages of adoption, but this is really helpful. In many ways, these are the same things that new parents of all kinds appreciate. You’re doing a great job!
i am a little late to the game… but i love this series you are doing! we are hoping to start the adoption process in the next few years & so i am slowly reading as much as i can from real life people who have adopted! it’s so interesting… and these are great tips for me to remember when my friends adopt also!