Yes, we really do want you to ask how it’s going.
No, we don’t want everyone to ask it but for this (and the next question), I’m going to lump together two groups of people: Extended family and good, I mean really good, solid friends.
Let me define extended family – these are the people who have just “gotten” a new nephew or a new cousin or a grandchild. Maybe the next circle of the family would qualify – the second cousins, the great aunts and the like.
Let me define “really good” friends, even though you already know what I mean. It’s the friends who you can talk to about anything. They are the friends who share the ups and downs of life with you. They are the ones who are there, through thick and thin – they are family in every sense of the word.
We want these people in our family to care about our kids. We want these people in our family to care about how it’s going.
We need these people to care about us and our family – our new and extended family. We need these people to care about our new child (or children) just like they would if their cousin had a baby the “other” way.
We need you to care. But we need you to do it carefully.
Ask us how it is going – but DON’T ask how it is going if our kids are within earshot. And trust me, they have the ability to monitor about 57 different conversations at once and pick up the ones that are about them like they have sonar or some sort of extra magical hearing – except if you ask them to do something.
Ask us how it is going – but DON’T ask how it is going if you don’t have time to really listen. Because typically, to adequately share with a close family member “how it’s going” is going to take a while. So ask when you have time to sit and talk. Or ask when you are leaving a business meeting in Chicago and have a three hour drive ahead of you and plenty of time for a long phone call.
Oh and ask us if we’ve got time to talk. If we do have time, we’d love to talk – because this adoptive parent walk can be a very lonely walk.
Ask us how it is going – but don’t assume we want you to try to solve our problems. Many of the problems that our kids and we are struggling with can’t even be solved by therapists – because they are scars that will always be there. But that doesn’t mean we don’t want you to ask. We want you to ask – because we want you to care and we want you to be a listening ear.
And sometimes a shoulder to cry on.
And sometimes share fist bumps or high fives or……..
Ask us how it is going – but don’t ask from the standpoint of thinking you understand. Unless you are a trained professional or an adoptive parent or grandparent, you probably don’t understand. But if you ask us how it is going and really listen, you might very well come closer to understanding. Children from hard places have needs that are so different from children who have grown up with their biological parents, it is quite often hard for us to understand.
Ask us how it is going – but don’t judge us if we say it’s hard. Don’t say things like, “this is what you asked for.” You wouldn’t say those things to someone who has a biological child born with special challenges, so why would you say that about an adoptive parent?
We, adoptive parents, want you to care. We want you to value us and our children. We need you to care.
Because adoption is not an easy road. It’s a good road, it’s a God filled road but it’s not an easy road.
And you can help an adoptive family by caring and taking the time to care.
It’s a small thing – but it’s a big thing.
Stay tuned for Part 3 – “How can we help?”
Read What Not to Ask right here.
Read Part 1 of what to ask right here.