A long-time friend of mine was recently diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer. From the time her diagnosis was confirmed to starting chemo was only about 2 weeks. In that time, her village rallied around her. There is a private Facebook group where she can post updates for friends and family, but more strikingly are the almost constant stream of encouraging memes, song lyrics, Bible verses, and posts from other members. Using a cool website called Lotsa Helping Hands as a hub, folks can sign up to mail her encouraging notes (goal = one/day) or send her family restaurant gift cards although meals have actually been taken care of for a year. She also has a plan in place to keep up with the kids’ schoolwork and transport them back and forth to their activities. I love when the village acts like God intended it.
While her village was activating, I couldn’t help but think, “Adoptive families need this kind of support.” Actually foster families and families with kiddos with special needs should also be included. When we were at our lowest, we were almost bankrupt and I certainly wasn’t cooking for anyone. I continue to interact with families in crisis or who are just juggling more than the average who probably would actually feel like their head was above water with a daily note of encouragement and some unsolicited gift cards. I know when we’ve been the recipients of such care, we were beyond humbled but also really blessed.Support adoptive families as if someone has a grave illness or a person just died. Click To Tweet
Adoptive families need folks to support them as if someone has a grave illness or a person just died. All. The. Time.
Don’t wait for adoptive families to ask for your help.
They’re either too busy drowning to scream or they feel guilty for asking because their attachment-challenged child charms everyone else while terrorizing her family members, so cries for help are actually straight up criticized. When someone has cancer, no one is waiting for her to ask, people just do. We need to have the same reaction to folks with kids from hard places.
Assume every adoptive, foster, or special needs family needs some love.
Between therapists and specialists, IEP and social worker meetings, and birth parent visits, even a family who isn’t technically in crisis has an overflowing plate that is pretty much out of their control. However, regardless of the public face forward, there are more families than you would ever imagine dying slow deaths. Our children’s needs are often invisible, and, furthermore, families often hide them to protect our kids. Besides no one was ever worse off because of a free meal and an encouraging word.
Continue the love long after the child comes home.
While I feel like the culture has made some headway in having events like adoption sprinkles and providing meals for the first few weeks after placement, the love needs to continue to flow long after those first few weeks of “adjustment.” Finding your sea legs after birthing a neurotypical baby may only take a few weeks, but adoptive families need permanent love in the form of meals, notes, and completion of household work such as laundry, shopping, and outdoor care. They are not just “adjusting,” they are permanently caring for a person (or people) with altered brain chemistry and it’s exhausting at its best and…well…no one actually wants to talk about the worst.
For more ideas on how to love on families, check out these posts.
Now, Go! Find a family (who is not us) and start pouring out the love!
If you’re an adoptive, foster, or special needs family, share your story below and what it would mean to you to have practical support flowing your way.