We have all heard it: It takes a village. That is especially true when adopting or doing foster care. When we decided to adopt through foster care we were happy to start our training and to learn anything and everything we could to prepare us for this huge step. As we finish our paperwork, and prepare for the home study and final certification we cannot help but notice what for us is a big hole in the training process. We have been given countless resources to prepare us as a couple for the realities of adopting a child through foster care. To include the trauma the child has been through, emotions the child will be feeling, the adjustment period for us all and the experience of a child being with us for an undetermined amount of time and then returning to their birth family. After all of our preparation we feel as prepared as one can be until we actually have the experiences, experience is always the best teacher. However, there has been no mention in our training and little in our own research on how to prepare the close knit group of friends and family we have for the realities of foster care and our subsequent adoption. Yes we will be welcoming new miracles into our hearts and home, however these kiddos will have experienced things that many of us never have and they will therefore be approaching life differently than the children already in the family. So this raises the question how do you prepare your friends and family for the outbursts, the anger, the mistrust the child feels and the chance that once they all fall in love with your new addition the kiddo may return to their biological family? Here is how we have approached preparing our friends and family:

1.      Overly share all the information in your training and your own research. Anything that surprised us or made us re-think how we always imagined parenting we shared with those closest to us. This allows everyone to be on the same page and to know why we will be doing things differently than one might expect.

2.      Communication: Tell your loved ones your concerns, expectations and plans for coping with the losses. The more information everyone has the better.

3.      Remind your friends and family that although they may be hurt by a child leaving our home, the child returning to their family is great. When the next child comes into your home your new addition will need your family’s hearts to be open again. All of these kiddos deserve all the love we can give them for however long we have them.

4.      Suggest any informational books on the subject that you can. Most will not have the time to read them but there are many great resources for them to have on hand if they ever need them.

5. Surround yourself with people who have completed adoption or Foster Care before. Experts always help.

It really does take a village and in the case of foster care and adoption through foster care our village needs to be prepared for a slightly different road than traditional parenthood, grandparenthood, Aunt/Unlce-hood, cousinhood, etc. It is going to be different and amazing for sure. Let the adventure begin.