How To Support Someone Through The Roller Coaster Of Adoption

This guest post is by Kristin Vredevoogd, an adoptive mother and author.

Many movies and television shows misrepresent adoption and portray couples who easily say, “Let’s adopt,” and it’s smooth sailing from there. 

Adoption is filled with many opposing emotions on every side of the adoption triad. 

There is joy and sorrow, loss and gain, and grief and fulfillment. 

Adoption is something that can be difficult to relate to unless you have personal experience. 

While adoption contains a positive end result of a child for the adoptive parents, it is difficult for family and friends to know how to support those going through it.

My husband and I became parents through adoption.  It was a roller-coaster journey that took more than five years.


One of the difficult situations we had to navigate our way through is receiving a great deal unsolicited advice—advice included which agency or adoption lawyers to use, domestic or international adoption, closed or open adoption, and more.

Like a roller-coaster, our journey contained many ups and downs. 

In 2013 we suffered a failed adoption.  It was the most devastating and difficult thing to ever happen. 

Because we experienced something few people had ever experienced, many of our family and friends had no idea how to respond or how to best help us. 

We were the recipients of many platitudes such as, “He just wasn’t meant to be your child,” and “God will provide you with the baby you were meant to have.”

While these were very well intentioned people trying their best to comfort us, they had difficulty truly understanding the heartbreak we experienced. 

Here are a couple of the platitudes we received throughout our journey and our failed adoption.

  • “He wasn’t meant to be yours.”
  • “God will give you the child you are meant to have.”
  • “You’ll know your child once you hold him for the first time.”

These platitudes infuriated me.  It was difficult to do so, but I had to learn how to politely acknowledge the platitudes and unsolicited advice.  

Most often I would respond with, “Thank you for your concern and support.”

There are many known ideas of what to do to best help a family with a new baby.

  • Provide them with freezer meals.
  • Take the older sibling to go do something fun so she gets some much-needed attention while the new parents are busy with the new baby.
  • Help with laundry or grocery shopping.

Less known is how to truly help someone going through a period of grief.  Here is a list of things that helped me through tough spots in our adoption journey.

Being asked what I needed

When you witness family or friend face a difficult situation, it’s okay to admit that you don’t have the answers.  They are not looking for you to give them an answer. 

Each person grieves and processes things differently.  Each person needs different things to help her through grief. 

Grieving the loss of a child, the best thing that anyone said to me was, “I am so sorry.  I am at a loss for words.  How can I help?”

Keeping me fed

When I’m upset or stressed I lose my appetite and lose weight.  I know some people wish they faced this problem, but this is how I always seem to respond. 

When we first welcomed the baby into our home, we were recipients of meals.  I was grateful the meals kept coming after we lost the baby. 

It helped to ensure that I was still eating.  It meant that I was still eating even when I didn’t have the energy to prepare anything.

Giving me something to do outside of the house.

Another helpful thing we received when suffering a failed adoption were tickets to a baseball game from a church friend who is also an adoptive mama. 

It helped us get out of the house.  No, we were not OVER or ignoring our loss, but it helped us focus on something fun and happy for a few hours. 


Photo Credit: Alicia Rios Photography

Each person’s journey is unique, and each person needs different things while navigating process of adoption. 

It is an emotionally draining experience. 

One can feel quite isolated as others who have not experienced adoption have difficulty relating. 

Doing some of these things for the waiting adoptive parents when they hit a bump in the road of adoption can be a true help and means of support.

Kristin Kristin Vredevoogd is an adoptive mama, wife, musician, and photographer living in Colorado with her family.  She is also a blogger and the author of the adoption memoir, Mama Badge.

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