Friendships are so contagious around here, that the Adoption STAR staff have grown close. We celebrate in-office birthdays with a special lunch, spice up our staff meetings every now and then with fun games to get to know each other more, and share the meaningful moments in our lives with one another. Sometimes we are so connected that several of us show up to the office wearing the exact same colors without any pre-planning. We, as staff of Adoption STAR, love seeing and hearing the stories of budding friendships amongst the families we work with.
Friendships created while adopting remain strong for many years after our children are in our arms and in our homes. As our children reach big milestones, such as taking their first steps, or getting on the bus on their first day of Kindergarten, the friend we made while completing our Home Study or while attending a SOFIA gathering may be the first person we call to share the news.
Over the past 11 years, I’ve been fortunate to form meaningful relationships with countless adoptive families. I met Jodie online through the agency’s Yahoo group back in 2004. There was an instant connection as I learned that she had ultimately adopted a little boy I had grown to love months earlier. Over the next several years, we learned how much we had in common and the friendship blossomed to where I now consider Jodie one of my closest and dearest friends. Jodie not only understands the joys and challenges of parenting, but she can also fully appreciate the added dynamics that adoption brings. Whether we are talking about school, open adoption relationships, toddler meltdowns or how to care for African American hair, it is refreshing to know I have Jodie and so many others who just “get it.”
As parents and parents-to-be grow as friends, their children naturally begin to form their own relationships amongst each other. These friendships are made of a unique bond; sharing the adoptee piece of their identity creates an understanding many others may never truly “get.”
Adoption friendships develop in many ways. At our first STAR Christmas gathering I saw Amy. I had known Amy’s family for years; we grew up in the same town and her parents did work for my family. Amy and her husband had recently adopted through STAR. Our children both 6 months old and our families hit it off. Immediately, we began making play dates for our boys. Now, 6 years later we are the closest of friends. We spend many holidays together and no birthday party is complete being together. When we mention their son, Leo, to my son his response is, “you mean my BFF?”. Coincidentally, we adopted our daughter just a few months before they adopted their second son. We can tell these two are going to be friends a long time too.
Take a few minutes to talk to those sitting around you, during the breaks and lunch this weekend. Those sitting at your table may end up being one of your biggest support systems throughout this journey. I tell families this at each Home Study Class Series, and often see strangers turn into acquaintances, who eventually become best of friends.
The common bond of adoption among friends is a wonderful gift. It gives you someone to talk with about why we decided to adopt and someone with whom to share the ups and downs of the adoption process. I know our kids benefit from having friends who are also adopted. It lets them know they’re not the only one with an adoption story. I’m sure this bond will grow stronger as they grow older. When we started the adoption process we were hopeful to have a family. We never imagined our family would be blessed with life-long friendships as well.
Friendships may end up being what a family looks back on their adoption experiences and remembers most fondly. Support, laughter, and learning from one another are just a few ways friends can be there for each other during an emotional journey. What may start off as a “Nice to meet you,” and friendly chat during the Home Study Classes, can eventually turn into a “Want to come over for dinner this weekend?” Adoption brings out many different types of love.