Ask her about it.
When a woman is pregnant, people have a script to stick to. "Congratulations!" they beam. The comes the questions. “how far along are you?” “do you know what you’re having?” “how are you feeling?”. In fact these things are asked so frequently of pregnant women that by the end of 9 months, they’ve answered them so many times they may want to scream!
The good news is, you can ask an adoptive mama these exact same questions!
I know that I am personally very happy to share what stage of the process we’re at with our adoption, answer questions that we can about our future child, and tell you how we’re feeling about it. Genuine curiosity is very unlikely to offend & avoiding these questions can make the adoptive mama feel pretty isolated. Being congratulated on our decision to adopt gives us a huge boost and makes us feel like we are part of the cool mums club!
Of course there are questions you really shouldn’t ask such as “can’t you have your own kids?” or “have you really thought about this?”. Those kinds of questions are assumptive and rude, and more likely to cause offence. Apply common sense, and you cant go wrong.
If this will be her first child, throw her an adoption shower.
Sure, you can’t play measure the bump or guess the birth weight, but if she is a first time mum, she would most likely appreciate being thought of and celebrated just as other new mothers are!
There are a lot of normal happy milestones of motherhood that we miss out on due to the way our children come to us, but this doesn’t have to be one of them.
Most adoptive couples will have a vague idea of the age of the child they’re likely to get, which should make gift giving a little easier with some creative thinking. Books make fantastic adoptive baby shower gifts, as do crafty keepsakes. But in the end it isn’t really about gifts; it is about inclusion.
Stuck for games or ideas? Here are some great themes and activities for adoptive baby showers.
Let her talk about it.
Her journey to motherhood is going to be totally different to yours, and can sometimes be confronting. It can be hard to relate when she wants to talk about it or vent; but let her do it anyway.
You may be able to identify more with morning sickness, aching backs and being kicked in the ribs at 3am. She may be frustrated by slow moving paperwork or worried about unknown conditions her child will have. The road to motherhood can be a pain, no matter how you arrive there.
Sometimes the easiest way to support someone is to try and relate to them, and if you can’t do that, young might want change the subject. Don’t do that; it makes us feel as though what should be a joyful journey for us is something that makes others uncomfortable and that we cant share. Just listen. Ask questions. Try and find common ground (we can all talk about bottles, cribs, toys, daycares, parenting styles, schools etc). Reassure her as you would any other new mum!
She may turn into the worlds biggest flake. Try to be Patient.
There will be times when she may be so buried in paperwork, home study, home visits and training that you don't see or hear from her. She may flake on plans if something to do with the process pops up. Try to give her some grace as far as that is concerned.
Adopting is a very time consuming process with peaks and troughs of demand on the adoptive couple. It also has an inflexible timeline. We’re at the mercy of the Department. If we want to progress any further, we have to drop anything and jump when they say jump, or risk prolonging an already long, expensive and emotional process.
Just as a pregnant woman wouldn’t be judged for putting her health and the safety of her unborn child first; try not to judge adoptive mamas as they make their adoption process their number one priority.