Photo: Gabe Pierce via Unsplash

Adoptive moms are not that different from any other mom. They have to care for their children, get upset, frustrated, and annoyed by their kids, and they love and brag about their kids.

Yet, an adoptive mom has differences from other moms. Adoptive moms add children of varying ages to their family. Moms may not know the child’s full background either. Plus, they have to go through life with the adopted child, navigating what it means to be an adopted parent and helping their child understand that as well.

The adoption process is challenging, and it can be confusing at times how to support those moms who are going through or have gone through that process.

Here are 8 things you can do to support adoptive moms, no matter where they’re at in their adoption journey.

1. Learn about the Adoption Process
One of the best things you can do is learn about the adoption process. If you want to support your friend, this certainly helps, especially if you don’t know much about it. While you don’t have to understand every detail, learning the basics will help you view adoption from your friend’s perspective.

Most adoptive moms are willing to talk to you about the process. Learning about adoption facilitates discussions with the adoptive mom because it allows you to ask informed questions and be enthused with her.

2. Understand That Parenting May Be Different
Biological children and adopted children likely will be parented differently. The mom is likely trying to find a new balance with their newly adopted child and find a parenting routine that works. An adopted child may have a background unlike that of a biological child. Consequences and other actions towards an adopted child may not work.

For example, sending a child to their room is a common discipline method among many parents. However, for a child who may have been abandoned or doesn’t view possessions the same way, leaving them alone for a time out could have negative consequences. An adoptive parent has to be flexible to meet the child’s needs.

3. Give Thoughtful Gifts
An adoptive parent probably isn’t directly going to ask for support or gifts. However, they will never turn down help or a meaningful gift. The gift could be a box of chocolates or an offer to help clean her home or cook a meal for the family.

When giving a gift to the newly adopted child, make it something small that the family can enjoy together. Some children aren’t used to having so many material items and may become overwhelmed. A gift card for a movie or an art kit would be perfect so the entire family can be involved.

4. Choose Your Words Carefully
Even if you have a lot of experience raising children, are good at it and could give your friend some advice, avoid it. Often, adopted children have a past trauma in their lives. They’re likely emotionally unstable, so traditional parenting doesn’t always work. The right thing could very well be the wrong thing when parenting an adopted child.

Additionally, be careful with your words around adoptive families. Avoid asking questions about the child’s past or how much the child cost. These children are not commodities, and their story is theirs to share.

5. Treat the Child as Human
Once the child arrives at their new home, it’s an exciting time, no doubt! However, that child is not a celebrity—they are human. Taking photos of the newly adopted child and pouring all of your attention on them while disregarding the mom’s other children isn’t healthy.

View the family as a normal family. Plus, talk openly with your own children that adoption and children who may look different are normal. This helps the adopted child feel welcome and safe.

6. Offer Financial Resources
Adoption can be expensive. Many families look for ways to reduce the cost of adoption. You certainly don’t have to give the family cash directly, but you can help with fundraisers or other ways to help them with the cost.

Attend fundraising events that the family hosts or ask if you can help organize a fundraiser for them. Any bit of financial help goes a long way, and the parents will feel appreciated and supported by your gesture.

7. Listen
One of the most important ways you can support adoptive moms is by simply listening. This is good advice for any relationship, but if you have a friend or family member who is adopting, listen more than you talk. Your friend’s world is drastically changing as she learns new knowledge through the adoption process.

You might feel uncomfortable with some topics, but your friend needs that time to talk and process. She is sharing because she wants someone to listen, not for someone to offer advice. Plus, by actively listening, you can better support, understand and communicate with your friend.

8. Support & Encourage Them From the Start
When you hear that your friend is adopting, be there for them from the start. The adoption process can be long and draining, but it’s also rewarding and exciting in the end. Adoptive moms need all the encouragement they can get, so use these tips to support them!