Do you have a friend, coworker or family member who recently adopted? Wondering how to best support them as they settle into their newly expanded family life? So often, local and not-so-local friends wonder what they can do when a new adoptive family arrives home. Well, wonder no further, because here are adoptive family-approved ideas:
1. Stock the Pantry
This is a staple for any adoptive family when first arriving home. As with most of us, if we leave town, we try to finish up foods that will expire and don’t make a big grocery run because we won’t be back for a while. Whether you mail or drop off a local grocery store gift card or set up a delivery of grocery basics to their porch (think bread, lunch meat, fruit, milk, cereal, snacks, orange juice) the fact is that everyone needs groceries. Consider being the person or small group who helps stock the pantry.
2. Local Eateries
For those nights when no one feels like cooking and all the freezer meals are long gone, it can be a real lifesaver to have an assortment of restaurant gift cards. As a fun surprise, think beyond lunch and dinner by throwing in a few gift cards for ice cream spots, coffee houses or local bakeries. You never know when the adoptive mom or dad will have one of those days and just need to slip out of the house for a few minutes and recharge with some alone time and a treat!
3. Stock the Closet
Whether a family is adopting a baby, toddler, or teenager, there will be a need for basics. It’s usually obvious what is needed for an infant adoption, but perhaps not so obvious with older child adoption. The newly adopted child will need shoes, socks, shirts, shorts, pants, pajamas, a bathing suit, hygiene items and some age-appropriate toys — just to name a few things. Celebrate and welcome this child’s arrival, no matter the age, and consider mailing, dropping off or sending a gift card for the basics.
4. Listen and Pray
There will never be a more wonderful yet stressful time than adding a new member(s) to the family. You should know, prior to adopting, this family probably heard a myriad of opinions about adoption, both positive and negative. Once home and walking through the struggles that come with finding their new routine and schedule, the family will wonder who they can truly confide in for compassion and encouragement. Be that friend who will share encouraging words, regularly mail or drop-off notes, and listen when they are struggling without judgment or canned answers. There simply are no easy answers in adoption, it’s a very UNIQUE experience that few can really, truly understand. And remember, it’s ok to say, “I don’t know what to say, but I love you and I’m praying for you and here’s a HUG and a coffee I just picked up for you.”
5. Become a Snack Angel
Let’s face it, children love to snack! If the family has children already in the home, just randomly drop off or set up delivery of a box of individually packaged snacks. I’ve yet to meet children who didn’t love to open a box of snacks just for them! What a fun surprise it could be for all the children in the home who are equally adjusting to a new routine. Let me tell you, you might just become the new favorite family friend of those children.
6. Take a Meal
For adoptive families who are part of a community group or church, consider appointing one person to set up meal delivery using a free online program such as mealtrain.com. About the last thing a newly adoptive mom or dad wants to figure out every evening is what to prepare for dinner. Having fresh meals delivered or even freezer meals is a welcome gift for anyone weary of digging through the pantry and refrigerator to see what can be thrown together for a warm meal.
7. Donate a Family Experience
Consider giving the family a day trip to the zoo, aquarium, or an afternoon of bowling. Adding an extra child (or any number) can make special events out of reach financially. Do you have access to tickets for a special event or know someone who does? Or, maybe you have a boat and would be willing to invite the host family to the lake for a day of fishing or swimming. Give the family a special day to create more memories with their adopted child(ren).
8. Photograph the New Family
Are you a photographer or someone with a great camera and a good eye? Consider scheduling a little time with the recently expanded family to capture a few photos of their first days home.
9. Serving At Home
When an adoptive family first arrives home with their new addition(s), every single member of the family is working hard to find a routine again. In the case of jetlag or a new baby, it can feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get all the household responsibilities accomplished. Consider mowing the family’s yard, paying for a couple weeks of house cleaning, taking their car for an oil change, or offering one night of childcare.
10. Plan a Welcome Home Shower
Most of us have attended a baby shower in the past — a special party that both celebrates the upcoming birth of a child and provides a way for friends and family to “shower” the new parents with things they will need in the coming weeks and months. For an adoptive family, there is the same need for encouragement. Consider if you, your church, community group, or workplace could rally around the friend or family member who is adopting by throwing a “forever home shower.”
No matter how you choose to show support, know that your efforts will make life easier for everyone in the family. Even more importantly, they’ll be uplifted and encouraged by the love and concern you have shown.