Before I started this process, I wouldn’t have known what to say to an adoptive parent except, “Yay! Congratulations!” and I might jump up and down a little. For me, adoption was fairly foreign because I only know a few adopted people and even fewer adoptive parents. What do you say to people? How do you not offend them? (PS- We’re going to try as much as we can to not be overly-sensitive (because we know your heart is in the right place), but when our kiddo gets here, all bets are off. I’m talking to you, supermarket stranger who asks how much my daughter cost right in front of her. I know where your kidneys are and I’m not afraid to karate kick them.)
Anyway, here’s a list of helpful things that you can do to help adoptive parents.
Read this blog by Jen Hatmaker. This lady adopted two kiddos from Ethiopia and this blog entry is a list of things that you can do to be supportive. It’s quite eye-opening. I was going to list a bunch of things that I like about it, but really, I just like the whole thing. Here are my favorites:
a. One thing that we’ve heard often is, “Oh, that child is so lucky/blessed/fortunate” because we’re adopting her and “saving” her from her horrible orphanage life. Here’s the thing: This little kiddo has had a harder life than anyone here can imagine. Most likely, her parents have died of a disease that they passed on to her that is like modern-day leprosy, especially in her country. Just think of it as saying, “Oh, your parents died and now you’re HIV+ but these nice white people decided to adopt you? You’re so lucky.” Wrong. Our adoption is just the beginning of this redemptive process. When she gets here, she will be missing her country and her friends at the orphanage. For a long time, maybe her whole life, she will be mourning the loss of her birthparents and grappling with where she comes from. Fortunate doesn’t cut it. Until she is ready to say that she’s “blessed”, we’re not going to ask that she be thankful for all of the horrible things that have happened to her just so she can end up in Dallas with us.
b. Another thing, we don’t believe that she was destined to be with our family. God did not create her for us. If it was a perfect world, all the little babies would live with their mommies and daddies, who would be the model of parenting perfection. In a perfect world, there wouldn’t be a need for adoption. But it’s not a perfect world. Sin and brokenness have been here for a long time and as a result, there are 210 million kiddos without parents. Alex and I truly believe that God’s perfect plan is that kids stay with their birthparents. When all of us imperfect people (who are responsible for war, child abuse, poverty, disease, etc) mess that perfect plan up, then He starts knitting together two separate stories into one through adoption. Sure, maybe God knew that she was going to end up with us, and He will use this story for His glory, but it’s not His Plan A for her. Basically, we don’t believe that God destined her to be with us, because that means that God’s original plan would include abandonment and disease. Abandonment and disease sound more like human things than God things.
c. This quote: “As you watch us struggle and celebrate and cry and flail, we also want you to know that adoption is beautiful, and a thousand times we’ve looked at each other and said, “What if we would’ve said no?” God invited us into something monumental and lovely, and we would’ve missed endless moments of glory had we walked away. We need you during these difficult months of waiting and transitioning, but we also hope you see that we serve a faithful God who heals and actually sets the lonely in families, just like He said He would. And even through the tears and tantrums (ours), we look at our children and marvel that God counted us worthy to raise them. We are humbled. We’ve been gifted with a very holy task, and when you help us rise to the occasion, you have an inheritance in their story; your name will be counted in their legacy. ”
Prayer. Perhaps I could do a better job about giving specifics. Part of the problem right now is that we are in a HUGE waiting game and don’t really know what or how to pray ourselves. If an adoptive parent friend asked me to pray for her without being specific, I’m not sure I would have known what to pray for. Here are a few things:
– Waiting- Adoption is mostly “hurry up and wait”. You fill out 9 million forms, Fed-ex them overnight to wherever they’re going, and then wait 10 months to get an answer back. During this whole process, adoptive parents are at risk of becoming discouraged. Yep, we’re going to have hard days where it feels like the waiting is killing us. Yep, we’re going to have hard days where the thought of our kids pining for a real family will literally bring us to tears. Please pray for all of us. Pray that God would bring peace to us and our kids. Pray that God would make His presence known to these little ones that are waiting. Pray that they know He loves them.
-Finances- We just got the fee sheet, but it looks like our adoption is going to run about $20,000 (including two travel trips, one to meet her, one to finalize the adoption). We are most likely becoming homeowners this Thursday, which means 20% down, which means I’ll fight you for that penny in the parking lot. We’re thinking not only about the adoption cost, but once she gets here, we’ll immediately be paying our entire health insurance deductible because HIV meds don’t come cheap. Expensive. We’re completely trusting that God will provide. We know that He has blessed us with amazing friends and family. (PS- If you want to find out more about financially supporting us, you can read here.) Please pray that we will have enough money when we need it and that God will be glorified through the fundraising process.
-For the process- Deep down, I’m struggling because I want to pray that the process moves like lightning, that she’s here next month, and everyone in the adoption community can’t understand why our process flew so quickly. But, in reality, I know that God will refine us through this process and we want His timing for the situation. Please pray that we will be content with His timing (and you can throw in an “if it happens to be quicker than normal, that’s okay too”).
-For the other people who are involved- A few months ago, I read this blog by a mom who is in the process of getting her kids from the Congo. What struck me about this was that she is praying for the immigration official who is processing their paperwork. She is thinking about the fact that they never get to see the families that they are helping. What compassion and humility. Instead of threatening to punch them in the throat if they don’t process the application faster, she is praying for them. Geez, I hope I can do this. I don’t know that punching officials in the throat will get me very far anyway.
Emotional support. You guys already have this in spades. From the emails to the facebook comments to the in-person encouragements, we have been overwhelmed with the support.
So, there it is. How to adopt adoptive parents. You guys are already doing a fabulous job.
We’re just so stinkin’ thankful for you.
(Read more about the adoption here.)