A network of support for adoptive families

A sense of humour, patience and reliance on God and others will help your family bond

By Debi A. Grebenik, PHD

Journeys take on different dimensions when we are accompanied by others. Adoptive parents who develop informal networks of consistent and positive support from family, friends, other adoptive parents and neighbours successfully reach their destination – perhaps stretched, but strong.

Your entire adoptive family benefits from the emotional, financial, spiritual and social support that your formal and informal networks provide. Professional resources provide insight and assistance to your child and family. Friends and family minister to your adoptive family by praying for your family, providing meals, giving respite, offering friendship and promising acceptance.

Never underestimate your need for support, and never expect that you have to make it on your own to be successful. The most successful adoptive families are those who know they need support and know how to draw upon every resource available.

Required luggage for this trip is a sense of humour. Humour helps everyone keep things in perspective. It also helps you not take things too personally.

When humour is coupled with patience, adoptive parents can remain calm and empathetic. As previously explained, a calm, regulated relationship promotes attachment and bonding. When parents are stressed, the child reflects this stress and amplifies it. In response, parents often become more stressed, making them unable to bond to their child and interrupting their child's attachment. Finding the funny side of a difficult issue or having a good laugh go a long way to reducing stress.

If you are married, you and your spouse must keep your marriage relationship and journey as even more important than your adoption journey. You may be tempted to pour all your energy into your child and let your relationship with one another run on battery. Doing so will only prove dangerous to your marriage and to your child. Without the strength of a marriage cemented by a commitment to God and one another, parenting will prove to be more difficult and less effective.

The pressure of meeting the unrelenting needs of your child, especially an adopted child, can reveal the weakness of each parent and the flaws found within the marriage. Take these issues seriously. Admit your tendency to blame or blow up or pull away, and seek to let God change you. Reaffirm your love to each other and keep your mutual destination – as a couple and as parents – clearly in mind.

Next article in series: Adoption Success for the Long Haul
Start of series: Traits of Successful Adoptive Families