Celebrating National Adoption Month

This November, make a difference for a family!

By Wendy Kittlitz

Adoption is not an easy road to travel. Everything is challenging for most adoptive parents, from the decision to pursue it, to the application process, to the waiting for a child to be placed. Many think of us as heroes, admiring our dedication in offering a home to children we chose to parent. Most adoptive parents I know eschew that title, asserting that we are the ones who are blessed by this calling, recognizing that we continue to be stretched in ways we never anticipated in the process.

It can also be a lonely road to travel. We often feel misunderstood – regarding our motivations, our parenting practices, our doubts and fears. The work of parenting children who have experienced trauma is different from other types of parenting and it requires much energy, patience, creativity, support and care.

As we observe National Adoption Month this November, my thoughts are with some specific couples I know or know of. I’d like to give you a little insight into their needs and then challenge you to do something to provide encouragement and practical help to a similar couple you know. As we have said many times, not everyone is called to adopt, but everyone can do something to help!

What can you do today for a family who is on this journey?

For singles and couples in the early part of the journey: They may still be discerning God’s call, or they may be in the midst of a home study or waiting for a placement. They need your prayers and encouragement! If you know someone in this stage, will you commit to praying for them for a period of time? Send them a note to let them know you are praying, offer to put on a fundraiser to help with some of their expenses, or make a point of checking in periodically to see where they are in their process. Remind them that this is a godly vision to pursue and that they are not in this alone.

For those in the midst of parenting: Some need practical help! Think about what you could do to give new life to their tough days! Maybe they would be blessed by a hot meal, an offer of childcare, or a gift card for a coffee date with their spouse? I recently heard of some couples who are quite overwhelmed with the needs of new children in their homes and they need a non-judgmental listening ear. Some families could also use someone to come over and fold laundry, cut their grass, take them to appointments or take care of some other practical chore so they can concentrate on their special child.

I have heard from parents who have been beautifully surrounded by loving support people who have given generously to them. I have also seen and heard from parents whose hard parenting journeys have been very lonely and unsupported. It is my prayer that there would be far more of the first group than the second.

Finally, for those whose special needs children have grown up, but have not launched as successfully as hoped, or for those whose grown children don’t contact them any longer: This can be heartbreaking for parents who have invested all their best efforts in parenting challenging children. These couples could use some encouragement too. Pray with them for their adult children, thank them for the efforts they made, and validate the reality that prodigal children exist (adopted and biological). Remind these parents that God still loves their children and watches over them, even when they cannot.  

This November, think about the adoptive families you know. What can you do to reach out to them, offering some support, encouragement or maybe even practical assistance? We like to call it “wrapping around” adoptive families. Who will you wrap around this month?

For more ideas, click here.

Wendy Kittlitz is vice-president of counselling and care ministries for Focus on the Family Canada. She has worked as an adoption professional for 15 years and is also an adoptive mom.