Supporting Adoptive Families During National Adoption Month

 Grace Baltic Photography
November is my favorite month!! Cooler temperatures, Thanksgiving, prepping for winter holidays and National Adoption Month. Being an adoptive family means a lot to us. We love helping other families celebrate the beauty and miracle of adoption. 

Because we are a multi-racial family with special needs children we often hear things such as ” I don’t know how you do it” or ” You all are saints.” The truth is, we are not saints, just ordinary people who do what we have to for our children and most of the time, WE have no idea how we do it!! We are human and just like anyone else we need help once in a while. We need support. My neighbor, a wonderful older man, just this morning, said something like that to me. And quickly followed it with, “Anything I can do to help, let me know.” You better believe I will take him up on that!  

There are several ways you can support adoptive families. Here are 5 things that you can do to help us out.

1. Offer to make or have dinner delivered.                                                                                         

There are many evenings where adoptive parents are running around, picking up kids from school, sports or coming back from therapy. Our family spends 3 hours, 3 days a week on the road just for therapy. These same 3 nights, I drop 3 of my kids off and rush another one to dance. Dinner often is a last minute plan. Having dinner taken care of would be such a relief!

2. Offer to babysit, if even for a couple of hours.                                                                           

Adoptive/foster and special needs families have a very difficult time finding babysitters. This can be because of financial reasons or simply the inability to find someone who is comfortable with our children. Our family has exactly one person that we can rely on therefore time away is nearly impossible. It is quite common for these parents to go for several months, or even years without the ability to go out, alone, with their spouse. 

3. Offer to come over for a playdate.

Adoptive/foster and special needs families often spend a lot of time alone or with a small group of people. Playdates are not often easy. It is not at all uncommon for some of these kiddos to have social anxiety or have a hard time feeling comfortable in other people’s homes. Offering to bring some snacks and your own kiddos over creates so much excitement and form lasting memories for these kids.  

4. Ask sincere questions about our family’s story.                                                                                                 

Adoptive and foster families love telling people their family story. We also understand that not everybody will understand the motivation or the way that our families function. If you are curious about something, please ask. Just know that some things may not be our story to tell but we encourage sincere questions because we love to help others understand just how amazing our kids are!!

5. Understand that we do things differently for a reason.                                                                                  

More and more brain research is proving that children that come from trauma (adoption and foster care are prime examples) process experiences and challenges differently than others. Because of this, it may seem that some of our kids are getting away with a lot of behaviors that seem inappropriate for their age. Trauma often shows its self in “younger” behaviors because that early childhood trust was either broken or never there in the first place. Therefore, as adoptive and foster parents, our first job is to help our children develop that trust and sometimes that means that handling discipline differently than what seems logical. When trust is built and they know they are safe, our children often make great gains quite quickly. So just bear with us.                                                                                                                                  

Dawn Shreeve is an adoptive mother of four special needs kiddos; long-time educator, beach lover, and advocate of all things adoption. Dawn holds a BS in Psychology from Oral Roberts University and a MEd in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of North Texas. She currently serves as a Tinkergarten Leader in the South Shore area and is a Co-Founder of Seas The Connection, an organization who works to bring relaxing retreats to Adoptive and Foster moms. Dawn, her husband Michael and kids moved to the Tampa Bay area in December of 2016 and love living near the beach in such in such a rich multicultural area