Source: Ondřej Lipár, Flickr

Source: Ondřej Lipár, Flickr

Earlier this year we published a blog series on how to support your spouse through the adoption process. If interested, or you have a stressed spouse, you can check out our helpful suggestions. Often, it is easier to know and respond to our spouse’s needs, but understanding how to help our friends can be a bit more difficult. When a person or family embarks on adoption, the process is long and sometimes overwhelming. Having a community of supportive friends and family is incredibly important. From remembering to smile and enjoy moments of happiness, to needing a shoulder to cry on from time to time, friends play a vital role for adoptive parents.

New to Adoption

If you are new to the world of adoption and have friends beginning the process, then a good place to start is by reading books or magazine articles on adoption or adoption blogs. If you acquaint yourself with some of the general information, your friends will truly appreciate being able to talk about the process with someone who understands. You can also ask for pamphlets or information booklets from the adoption agency and don’t be afraid to ask question, too. Likely, many of the questions you have are ones the adoptive parents have, too. Don’t underestimate the power of friendly conversation; that may be just what your friends need and will help them feel they are not alone in this adventure.

Another option is to attend meetings with your friends. Some agencies offer informational sessions and your friends might feel more supported if you are able to come occasionally. This is another good way to be informed about the process and ask questions. If you have the time, bake some cookies to bring to the meeting or suggest coffee afterwards to help your friends process any new information they’ve learned.

Finally, your friends may need to call on you for a reference. So be prepared to offer one and make sure to ask questions (of your friends and the agency) to understand what constitutes a strong reference.

Foster Hope

Depending on the type of adoption your friends seek, the time the process takes could be several years. There will be times when hope will feel far away and the stress will feel too much. It’s these moments when your friends need you the most and you can help them by offering a reminder to not lose hope. One lovely way to engender this feeling is to plant a hope tree. This can be any tree or flowering shrub native to your area and you simply plant it for your friends at the start of their process. When hope feels low, invite your friends to say a prayer together around the hope tree or read inspiring words out loud. And finally, remind your friends that just as the tree continues to grow, so will they grow closer to expanding their family. Once the adoption is final, plan for a hope celebration around the tree. Now your friends will have a lovely reminder of their journey for many years to come.

The most important things you can offer as a friend is the ability to listen. Listen to the stress, the sorrow, and the tears. And remain supportive. Often, parents going through this process just need a kind ear and some encouragement. Such support will be invaluable to your friends.