Families who are adopting often find themselves on the receiving end of some awkward conversations from people who are either unaware of the adoption process or are just uneducated about acceptable rhetoric to use when discussing the specifics of adoption. Some adoptive families are private about their journey, and others are an open book. However receptive a family is to the questioning or sharing details, be an encouragement to your friend who is adopting by knowing some of the best things to say to them during what may be some of the hardest days — their adoption wait. Here are five things to get the conversation started.

1. How can I help?

Friends drinking coffee at sidewalk cafeThis general and all-embracing question can seem so impersonal, but every family is different, and every family’s adoption story different. Your friends may be in need of someone to write a reference letter for their home study process or ideas on how to fundraise for adoption expenses. They may just need someone to listen to some of their anxieties or a friend to pray with them through it. Be available to help your friend in whatever way they may need it during their lingering anticipation.

2. Congratulations!

Most families who choose to adopt are met with questions instead of best wishes from those around them. Treat their adoption announcement like a birth announcement. An adoptive family is choosing to begin the journey to add a child to their family. Be excited for them before any inquisitions commence. Celebrate for their family and the love they will be adding.

3. What all does it take to adopt?

An adoptive family gets butterflies and excitement for what is to come, just like a mom who waits through doctor appointments, ultrasounds, and the birth of their baby. The route to get there may look different, but both come home with their child. An expectant mother who is excited about sharing the details of her pregnancy does not take away from an adoptive mother being eager to share aspects of the adoption journey. By asking a friend who is adopting about the process, it allows them to talk about the steps that are leading to bringing home their child. They will share as much or as little as they want, but for a friend to be interested in hearing this account means they join in the eagerness of seeing the story unfold.

4. Do you need any baby items?

Just like you would treat their plans to adopt like a birth announcement, friends can offer to help by showering adoptive families with items they will need when bringing home a new baby. A baby shower can be given for an adoptive family before or after being matched with an expectant mother. There are so many items that parents will need when preparing for their child, and a shower can be given even without knowing the gender or due date of a baby. Diapers, wipes, a crib, baby swings, toys, bottles, and so much more can help an adoptive family and take some of the strain off having to shop for so many things at the last minute when getting ready to bring their baby home. This gesture will also boost the enthusiasm and soften the anxiety during their waiting.

5. Admiration

Tell friends who are adopting something you admire about them. If you have never been through the adoption process or experienced the highs and lows associated with it, then you’ll never know how much they need to hear something like this from a friend. Encourage them because of their strength in the wait. Let them know how proud you are of them. Tell your friends that you admire the openness they have exhibited in their story so that adoption becomes a better-known option. Acknowledge any sacrifices they have made to complete an adoption because you know the blessing they will receive from it. Show them through your words how much you care.

Jill is a 32-year-old wife and mom. She has been married to her husband, Brannon, for eight years and has 5-year-old and 1-year-old daughters. Jill and her husband are currently in the adoption process to bring another baby into their home. Jill lives in a small community in Kentucky. She has her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Spanish and obtained her Master’s degree in Christian Ministries. Jill’s passions are her faith, her family, writing, playing sports, and eating good food.