“Good news—we just got a call from our caseworker and our adoption is set to finalize next month! Isn’t that great?”
It’s exciting to celebrate with our friends as they welcome children into their forever families. What a privilege to witness the beauty of God knitting families together!
For adoptive parents, the day they stand before the judge to hear the official declaration that this child is a part of their family, permanently, can feel like a culminating moment—the end of a hard-fought journey. It may have been months—or even years—in the making, but their child is finally home.
In the weeks following the finalization of their adoption, though, most families discover that while the judge’s gavel may have marked the end of the adoption process, a new process was just beginning. It’s the process of actually being a family—dealing with past hurts, forming new bonds and relationships, dreaming about the future, and learning what it means to be a mom or dad, a brother or sister. And that process isn’t always easy.
We often forget that adoption always begins with some sort of trauma. God intends for children to be raised in a loving, stable family by the mother and father that first conceived them. But in our broken and sinful world, that is not always possible. God also provides a way for children to be embraced by an adoptive family when the harsh realities of life make it unsafe to stay where they are.
This transition is often anything but quick; rather, it takes time for kids to unlearn negative thought patterns that may be ingrained. Many may struggle with trusting their new family because they have been hurt by adults in the past or because there hasn’t been a loving caregiver in their life for some time. Rebuilding those bridges takes time and intentional effort on the part of the new family.
Adoptive families are often slow to admit that their post-adoption experience has been more difficult than they had anticipated. They may feel that admitting to these hardships somehow undermines the calling God has placed on their life. Or they’re afraid that sharing about their struggles will scare others away from adopting. It is a heavy weight to bear. And let’s face it—none of us likes to ask for help, even if we really need it!
Adoption provides a unique opportunity for the body of Christ as a whole—not just for the family welcoming a child home. Yes, the adoptive family will bear the primary burden of guiding, shepherding, and teaching their child. But those surrounding that family need to offer all of the love, support and understanding they can. This frees the family to focus on the needs of their child, while at the same time embracing the spirit of the apostle Paul’s reminder that “You obey the law of Christ when you offer each other a helping hand” (Galatians 6:2 CEV).
For specific guidance on how to help adoptive families, check out 4 Ways to Serve an Adoptive Family.