About two and a half years ago, I sent out a really awkward e-mail to a few moms. It went a little something like this:
“Hey! You don’t know me but I just got back from China with my daughter and I heard from a friend of a friend of a friend that you recently adopted too and that you live in my city. I would love for our kids to get to know each other. Would you be interested in coming to my house for a playdate?”
What started out as a random invitation has given way to a community of precious friendships.
That playdate turned into multiple playdates and our little preschool adoption group just kept getting bigger. Moms knew of other moms at their churches or through social media who had recently adopted from China and invited them into our community.
Since that first meeting we have eaten mooncakes together at our Mid-Autumn Festival, shared noodles over Chinese New Year lunches, cheered each other on when group members started new adoptions, and had countless playdates in the park.
These friendships are some of my most treasured ones not because we are all best friends, but because these moms are some of the bravest women I know. We are united under the bittersweet truth that we are all parenting a child that we did not birth.
Phrases like sensory issues, learning delays, night terrors, and surgery are part of our vocabulary. It isn’t uncommon for us to share stories of attachment hardships, counseling, or food issues. We can celebrate the success of speech therapy one minute or go deep into the throes of parenting a child from trauma in the next breath.
We understand one another and there is a freedom to share when there are hard moments.
Community for moms who have adopted is vital. There is often an unspoken pressure that you have to have it all together and be completely joyful once your adopted child comes home. Others mistakenly believe that since you have waited for this child, prayed for this child, raised money for the process, and longed for this child, that once he or she is home, you should live happily ever after.
Adoption moms understand that although there is much joy in bringing home a child, there is also a mix of physical exhaustion and emotional weariness that comes from parenting a child from a really hard place.
Adoption moms understand that sleep is often terrifying for a child who spent the first few years of his life in an orphanage uncertain that his needs during the night would be met.
Adoption moms understand that sometimes you parent your adopted child completely different than your biological child because your adopted child didn’t grow up knowing that love can be trusted.
Adoption moms understand that when a child is having a hard time being left at school he may have deep rooted fears of abandonment.
Adoption moms understand that an adopted child often needs to see fruit on the counter or have extra snacks just to be reminded food is available and she will not go hungry tonight.
Adoption moms embrace community with one another because we know it is crucial to our souls. We seek to encourage and help each other love the gifts that God has brought into our homes.
Each December since starting the preschool playgroup, my husband and I receive Christmas cards from several of the families. We love hanging up each of the cards and seeing how God has stirred the hearts of moms and dads in our city to adopt a child from across the world. It is a literal picture of the gospel displayed for our eyes to see. As our children see card after card hanging up with pictures of families that look like our family, adoption has become normalized for our kids.
Through our preschool playgroup, we are intentionally surrounding our Chinese daughter with other kids in the area who look just like her. Our hope is that this group becomes a precious circle of friends for her. We know as she gets older she will have questions and doubts and we want her to be able to have other adopted Chinese friends to talk to who understand her feelings and thoughts.
Our biological sons have the opportunity to see other siblings just like them who have an adopted brother or sister. They see a picture of a family that looks similar to ours and we hope that will give them courage and hope as they encounter questions from others as they get older. We love that through this group, they are already building a community with other boys and girls who share the common bond of adoption.
My random e-mail to a few moms almost three years ago has blossomed into an invaluable community for our entire family.
Who do you know that needs to be invited into an adoption group in your area? Perhaps you can ask your agency if it knows of anyone close by or ask around at your church or on social media.
Don’t let the fear of awkwardness stop you – pursue community.
I have a feeling you’ll be glad you did.
(To help us help adoptive parents connect, tell us about your local adoption-related support group here.)