A quick Google search will yield hundreds of examples of what not to say to an adopting family.
Here are 7 things to say.
It almost seems too simple, but genuine excitement is golden to adopting families. You may have legitimate (even gracious, thought-provoking) concerns, but sharing them can be unhelpful. Rest confidently in the knowledge that God is working on the family’s behalf and will not allow adoption to advance that is not part of His plan. If you can find it in your heart to be excited, pursue it.
2. “God is good!”
Regardless of what circumstances led to the decision to adopt‚including infertility, miscarriage, cancer—focus on God’s good gift of a child via adoption. Though it is tempting to genuinely apologize—especially if the path leading to the adoption has been difficult—it gives the impression you believe the news is bad or sad. Celebrate the positive outcome of adoption. God is masterful at creating beauty out of ashes.
3. “How can I help?”
Every adoption is fraught with requirements, bills, meetings, and decisions. Your help is not only a valuable contribution to the family during a grueling process, but it is a decisive declaration that you support adoption and caring for the fatherless (James 1:27). If the adopting family doesn’t tell you what they need, offer to bring a meal or research what has been beneficial to other adopting families.
4. “How are things going?”
Waiting doesn’t sound difficult, but it can be excruciating. If you know of a family who has been waiting to complete an adoption for a long time, ask about it. Not sure what to say? Consider these 5 truths for seasons of waiting. Afraid you might say the wrong thing? Remember that, for most people, silence is exponentially harder than listening to a genuine friend stumble over what to say at a difficult time.
5. “Do you know if anyone is planning to host a shower?”
An important rule of thumb: What you/your family/your church does for biological children it should do for adopted children. Horror stories have been told of churches not sharing adoption announcements or families not hosting showers—when these privileges are extended to biological children. If you see that something isn’t/hasn’t been done for an adopting mother that is typically done for a pregnant mother, take the initiative. Offer to host the shower or speak to the church planning committee responsible for these decisions. Sometimes it is truly an oversight that can easily be corrected.
6. “How can I pray for you?”
Adopting parents often carry heavy burdens—fears, doubts, unknowns—that you can help alleviate by listening and praying. They, too, have likely heard the horror stories and read the unhelpful opinion pieces. They may be questioning their ability to care for the child God has compelled them to bring home. Assurances of prayer are invaluable.
7. “I can’t wait to meet your child!”
In all of the activities surrounding the adoption process, it is easy to lose sight of the human being at the center of the story. Acknowledging that you can’t wait to meet the child—without any hint of concern over the child’s race, health, background, or bonding—is a gift.
The greatest thing you can give the family in process?–love and anticipate their child with them.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.