Finding Support In The Adoption And Fostering World
Brene Brown says it best, “We don’t have to do it alone. We were never meant to.” Our communities are a huge part of our lives and mold and shape us every single day. Community can be there for us during our lowest lows and our highest highs. It’s no different during the adoption process.
Whether you are fostering, adopting, or placing your child for adoption, you need those people in your life. I love this definition of community: a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. In this article we are going to explore 5 reasons why community is important during these processes.
1. Community provides support.
When I say they provide support, I mean in more ways than one. Maybe you are encountering legal issues throughout the adoption process. A community can show up, support you with their presence or with their prayers, they can be your biggest cheerleaders, and they can also be the shoulder you need to cry on when those cases get rough or end in ways that you weren’t expecting.
If you’re a birth mama, your community can be the ones you call on when it comes time to go to doctor’s appointments or even when you go into labor. They can help support you when trying to navigate through emotions you didn’t know you would be feeling.
This could also mean financial support. If you’ve had social media for any length of time, you’ve seen people trying to raise money for friends in all the different stages. It could be a neighborhood concert or selling t-shirts, there are plenty of ideas out there and the community can help you pull that off.
2. Community provides sounding boards.
Our son was placed with us when he was six months old. We adopted him when he was just about to turn 3. Our story was different. He wasn’t a foster child, although we did the same steps. He wasn’t a family member. He was a friend’s family member.
I remember feeling like I needed support groups and sounding boards. I needed people who had been where I was. But when you are in a weird place and don’t even know how to define your situation, it’s hard to know where you fit in. Fast forward to now, when he turned 9 and my friend, who had just become a foster mom, invited me to a retreat for foster/adoptive moms. I never knew what I was missing by not surrounding myself with people who were like me, who had the same thoughts as me, or felt the same things I had felt. Being at that retreat put me in contact with people and allowed me to discuss the things I was afraid to say out loud to someone who hadn’t been there. It was refreshing and love-tank filling.
Find a group to be your sounding board! Derek Williams has ideas in his article, “Do I Need A Support Group? Where Can I Find One?” He has excellent resources and reasons why you need to find yours.
3. Community provides rest.
We have all been there! Whether it’s the newborn stage, toddler stage, or teenager stage: parenting is exhausting. We need to get our rest. We need to be the best versions of ourselves. Now, that could mean actual sleep or that could mean time away from the house, self-care, even. You need your community to help you with those kids when you are getting the rest you need and deserve.
If you are in the fostering world, this kind of rest might come in the form of respite workers. According to Adoption.org respite is “support offered to foster parents.” These workers can be friends, family, or other foster parents. They usually go through background checks and might even go through the same training you went through. If you aren’t sure where to find them, discuss this with your case worker. They should be able to point you in the right direction.
4. Community provides resources.
When they say, “it takes a village”, they mean it. You will need all the resources you can get and your people are the key to these resources. Maybe you are fostering and you get twin newborn babies as your first placement and you have nothing to get you started, your people can help you! Maybe all they need to do is post on Facebook or maybe they know a wonderful organization to get you connected with.
Maybe you have decided to adopt and you don’t know where to start. Tell your people. Word of mouth can’t hurt anything. There are so many stories where someone heard of someone and that’s how they adopted their child. This can go for birth parents, too. If you don’t mind putting that out there, then you might find the perfect family.
5. Community provides social interaction.
We all need some social interaction. If we are going through stressful situations and we haven’t shared with anyone and we just sit at home thinking about those things–well, it can drive someone crazy. Our community can help pull us out of our ruts or our houses and get us in social situations that can help breathe some life into us.
If you’re fostering or an adoptive family maybe it’s play dates and birthday parties. Being out with people can help tremendously. Or maybe you’re birth parents, you still need to be with your people, hang out with them, or reach out to others who might need the same thing.
How can you offer a community for someone in your life?
You could be reading this article and you aren’t fostering, adopting, or an expectant parent, but you know someone who needs to read this or you know someone you need to be there for. Below, you will find a few articles to give you some ideas.
One thing we need to remember is that we all have stories. It doesn’t matter which part of the story you are in. We have experience. I’m going to close with another Brene Brown quote, “One day you will tell your story of how you overcame what you went through and it will be someone else’s survival guide.” Put yourself out there and allow your story to do just that, become someone else’s survival guide.