One of the most impactful yet easily-overlooked influences in an adopted child’s life comes from the grandparents.
A grandparent’s support (or lack thereof) can make a world of difference in the life of a child. Here are five important ways every adoptive grandparent can support adoption:
1. Be positive.
You may have watched (or still be watching) your adult children wade through a lengthy, difficult adoption process. And you may not understand why they are willing to go through the process–especially if they have other children in the home already. Your children are probably aware of the risks involved, and they are adopting because they feel strongly that this is something they are supposed to do. So your encouragement is priceless. Be as positive as possible.
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver (Proverbs 25:11).
2. Be patient.
By the time your children told you they were planning to adopt, they already had time to think carefully about it and adjust to the idea. Adoption may be a totally new idea for you and something you never considered as a possibility for your family. Give yourself time to warm to the idea before deciding whether or not you think the idea is a good one. Be especially careful about verbalizing any initial lack of support.
Take note: Many grandparents who initially struggle with the idea of adoption become wholehearted supporters of their (adoptive) grandchildren.
3. Be prepared.
You will likely be asked questions by your friends or fellow church members about your adoptive grandchild’s history or health. Many of these questions will be asked by well-meaning individuals who simply want to learn. Regardless, it’s a good idea to touch base with your children about how they are handling questions. Your children were probably instructed by social workers and medical professionals about information that should not be shared with the public. Being on the same page about what will and won’t be shared is in the best interest of your adoptive grandchild.
Good rule of thumb: If ever you don’t know how to answer a question, direct the individual to talk to your children.
4. Be proactive.
No matter how your grandchild entered your family, you are a key part of your grandchild’s success. Do what you can to learn about your grandchild. If necessary, talk to your children about issues like trauma-informed parenting or seek information about your grandchild’s specific health challenges. Ask what role you should play in bonding. And then–as soon as you have the green light–do the same things you would do for your biological grandchild: Show up. Bring treats. Play games. Read books. Basically … just love.
You may not know how you feel in the beginning–excited, fearful, concerned, indifferent–and that’s ok. Adoption is a complex decision with room for many complicated emotions. But keep the old saying in mind: You can’t think your way into right action, but you can act your way into right thinking.
The truth is, you have a grandchild who needs your love and support.
5. Be prayerful.
Ask God to give you a deep love for your grandchild that surpasses anything you could ever have imagined. And chances are, since our God cares deeply about children–and specifically children who are orphaned or vulnerable–He wants to give you that love for the child He created.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).
And one more thing … Congratulations!
Help another child become a son or daughter.