Dear Friend, What I Need From You
If you have a friend on the adoption journey, you are a part of something beautiful, and also difficult. Your friend is on a path to parenthood filled with wonder, fraught with worry, leading through the unknown. You may see her fretting over paperwork and maniacally dusting the baseboards in advance of her home visit. You may find her philosophically waiting for what’s meant to be or bursting into happy tears at an unexpected phone call.
While she may seem the same on the outside, your friend is changing inwardly as she grows into motherhood. As your friend waits for her paperwork to be approved or for a match to be made, her heart is growing big enough to hold a child, and another mother, for a lifetime.
If you have a friend on the adoption journey, you are a part of something beautiful... you have a special role to play.
Even the best of friends may not understand how a waiting mother feels a connection long before her baby or child arrives, feels grief and gratitude for a mother who carries the child she holds in her heart, how she counts stars one day and the next buys baby socks in every size. An adopting mother is traveling an emotional road often she cannot truly comprehend.
Thank goodness your friend has you. The one who is there, empathizing with her. When I was adopting my younger daughter, a friend sat outside at a café with me so long one day we left the table with sunburnt noses. Her empathy helped me find my way forward.
As a friend to an adopting friend, you have a special role to play. Here are five ways you can rock it as the best cheerer on-er, lifter upper along your friend’s journey:
- LISTEN. On any journey through life, empathy helps. Different than sympathy, empathy is sitting beside someone and feeling what they feel, without judging, without offering hasty solutions to get them “out” of where they are. Listening empathetically lets a person know their feelings are perfectly okay, even when the situation is not. And when a person feels heard, they often end up feeling better and seeing things more clearly.
- GIVE A GIFT. Traveling the adoption journey can be a lonely experience for a hopeful mother, especially if many of her friends are having babies and baby showers. A gift that celebrates her path to parenthood lets her know you honor her unique journey. Send her a special coffee mug with a gentle message of hope as she begins her adoption or give her a comforting journal for her to gather her hopes and wishes along the wait.
- SEND A CARD. Like a gift, a greeting card that speaks to the emotional ups and downs of the adoption journey lets your friend know she is not alone and you are there for her through all the moments and emotions. An adoption greeting card is a simple, special way to help cheer the start of her adoption journey, ease the wait, comfort a loss, celebrate a match or send congratulations when her child has come home to her forever family.
- LEARN WITH HER. An article on AdoptionMagazine.com illuminates how people touched by adoption can teach their friends about adoption by simply living life outward for others to see. If your friend is new to the adoption journey or experiencing bumps in the road, she may be on a fast learning curve herself. Not telling her what you know, but learning the to-be discovered complexities of adoption along with her is a best-friend gift.
- JOIN IN WILDLY. One of the best ways a friend can support an adopting friend is to be there with her every step of the journey. Show up, sit beside, pass the tissues or the ice cream during the hard moments. Share the awe, wonder, heart-bursting joy of the coming together moments. Bring her food and quiet understanding during those first motherhood moments, too, because she has just become a mom with all the sleepless nights and wondrous firsts, and she needs you there bringing your love all the way.
Anyone who has traveled the journey probably has a best friend to thank for bolstering her courage, understanding her gratitude, and celebrating her joy. Sure, there are friends who miss the moments, but not you. You show up, understand, happy-dance along, because you’re the best, best friend.