Sadly, many adoptive and foster families feel alienated and completely alone in their journey because so many people around them, even those with good and honorable intentions, do not understand what they are going through. This is a big part of the reason why these families need emotional and spiritual Wrap Around Care.
Prior to helping an adoptive or foster family, it is important to understand some of the challenges they face and what makes their new family unique compared to a traditional family. You can read more details information about that here. Understanding these unique differences will help open your heart to their uniqueness, give you more grace towards their circumstances, and help you understand they why behind the things they are doing that you may not understand.
One very important thing to remember when helping an adoptive or foster family is to not judge them. There are often times many factors to a situation that you are not aware of that are influencing the behaviors and choices made by everyone involved. Another thing is to understand that these parents are often stressed to the max, physically and emotionally exhausted, and probably have a lot of guilt and feelings of not being good enough at all of the things they feel like they need to do. Knowing these basic things will help you know when to speak and when to listen, when to advise and when to sympathize.
1. Be understanding and sympathetic
You can help meet the emotional needs of these families by not judging them for these feelings if they express them to you (which are very natural and many adoptive and fostering families feel the same why that they do) and by letting them know that it is okay for them to feel this way.
2. Attending appointments
Adoptive and foster families usually face countless doctor appointments, counselling sessions, court dates, visitations, and many more meetings on a regular basis. These meetings can be hard emotionally draining and physically taxing on the families. You could be a helper at an important doctor’s appointment to help with the child so the parent can have much needed conversations with the doctor. Or you could attend a court appointment to be a shoulder to cry on after a family receives devastating news about a child they are caring for.
3. Be Available
Many adoptive and foster parents just need someone who will listen to them and support them when they need it and on their time table. It goes a long way with these families when they know that they can reach out to you any time of the day for support, encouragement, prayer, etc.
4. Host Play Dates
There comes a time in every parent’s life when they realize that they need some adult conversations outside of the home and their spouse, but the catch for these families is that often times they have difficulty getting childcare so that they can go grab coffee with a friend, have a girls night out, or go enjoy time with the guys. Hosting a play date, even if your children are not the same age can be a huge blessing. This allows the parent to get out of the house, go to a safe environment where they will not feel judged, and have some much needed adult conversations. This also gives you a chance to take some time to listen to them, encourage them, pray over them, get to know their new family dynamics, and serve them.
5. Send Encouragements
A word of encouragement goes a long way for anyone, but especially for an adoptive or foster family. They are in the trenches with the child they have take in and are often under all kids of attack from many areas of life and during these times it is easy for them to feel like a failure. This is why it is vital for those wrapping around them to encourage them on a regular basis. It can be as simple as texting them to say you are praying for them, an email with a scripture of encouragement, or even a phone call to tell them what a great job you have seen them doing with the child they have. Your encouragement doesn’t have to be formal, extravagant, or fancy, just a simple “I see what you are doing and you are doing it well” can make the difference in a good or bad day for these families.
6. Be a Prayer Warrior
You can also help meet the spiritual needs of these families and truly impact their lives spiritually by becoming a prayer warrior on their behalf in the spiritual realm. Thankfully we have a God whose heart is softened to those who cry out to him in their time of needs, as well as one who loves for us to cry out for our fellow believers. Prayer can change so many things! Pray can change ones attitude towards the situation, increase your appreciation and acceptance of what the adoptive or fostering parent is going through, and can directly move Satan out of the way so that God’s will can be done for the family and the child. Never overlook the importance of prayer in a situation like this.
7. Mentor the Child, Parents, or a Sibling
Everyone, no matter their age, stage of live, or past experiences can benefit from a mentor pouring into them, but this is especially true for adoptive/foster children, parents, and siblings. They have so much going on in their world that having someone who will focus some uninterrupted time and energy into them can change their thoughts about themselves, their actions, and possibly event the trajectory of their life.
Help Takes Many Forms
Be sure not to limit your assistance to just these seven ways of helping, but instead use this as a starting point and once you get to know the adoptive or foster family you are wrapping around, then you will begin to see new ways in which you can help a specific need that the family might have that is not on this list. These families are so diverse and the circumstances are so different that there are many needs that will be specific and needed for one family, but not for another.
It is also important to know that often times adoptive and foster families are do not ask for help because they are afraid others will judge them for needing the help or for other things that come up once that person starts helping. And some times these families and just too exhausted to seek out help when they need it the most.
In additional to helping in all of the ways listed above, you can also help support them emotional by taking some things off of their busy and jam packed to do list. See our article called 14 Way to Provide Practical Wrap Around Care for adoptive and foster parents.