Monday, July 8, 2013

Day 8: How to Get the Help You Need

Today, Karen shares how to get the kind of help you need after an older child adoption. 

So you admit you need help…What does it look like? Where do you go? Who do you ask?

Help doesn’t come by magic, nor by accident. It takes an intentional, thought out, and specific plan. The type of help you need will be unique to your family and your child and your struggles. Your plan will look different from another mom's plan – and that’s OK.

For us, it was a few small things at the right time of the day that made all the difference – or at least let some of the steam off so we could breathe again while our child began her healing process.

Step 1:  When do I need help?

All the time!

Yes – but let’s start small!

Sit it down with a cup of coffee and write down the times that are great in your family. And the times that are not so great. We want to recruit help to make the bad moments more like the good ones. If you can figure out why the good times are good, then you are on your way to making the bad times a whole lot better.

One of the good moments at our house was any time when we went from three kids to only two -- and it didn’t matter which two. Early mornings were hard when all three were up at the same time, and we were trying to get ready for school. The solution: put one on the bus, which came early. The child on the bus was gone before one of the other girls was even awake. Fundamentally changed the flow and atmosphere of our mornings!

Now you know when you need help. Next up. . .Where to go to get that help?

Step 2:  List your resources.

Let me help you get started – your first call needs to be to your social worker.  I know – you aren’t sure if she cares or even can help, but she is a good starting point, She’s not going to write a post adoption placement report that takes your child away. Trust me – she would rather deal with your issues now than later.

Ask her about respite services offered by your state or school district. . . a good therapeutic parenting / attachment / trauma counselor in the area. . . other resources to help your child, and your family, heal.

Your Spouse – Writing from a wife’s perspective here! My husband did not intuitively know how to help me. He was willing, but didn’t know what I would find the most helpful – aside from getting home as soon as possible every day from work! Turns out that what I needed most from him was time. Every Saturday last summer his job was to take the girls out for 3-4 hours. Somewhere out of the house – to give me time alone in my own home.

It’s what I needed.

While I became a happier mom, there was a side benefit. He developed a routine all his own with the girls and bonded with our new daughter. Now, a year later, I am no longer as desperate for these hours on Saturday, but the girls are! And so the tradition continues.

Tell your husband exactly what you need – don’t make him guess. That’s not fair.

Friends – list anyone and everyone who delivered a meal or came to the airport to welcome you home or offered to help.  Write down the names of classmates' moms and your Bible study friends.  Just write them all down – don’t self censor…that will happen naturally later!
Family – Don't forget to include people who are far away but love you. People who are open-minded and won't judge your new family dynamic. Perhaps some of them might be able to come and help short-term. 

Church – Your church family should be an important resource for getting help.

Online Groups – There are some tremendous resources online for support, from Facebook groups to therapist blogs to websites. Use them. Here are a few of my favorites:


Neighbors – They may not know you well, but they can often be the first line of support. Maybe a quick trip to the grocery store is on your hard list. Is there a neighbor who might pick up a few items for you each week?

Step 3:  Pray!

Pray over both lists: the list of hard times when you need help and the list of people who might be able to provide help. Ask God to deliver the resources you need.

God doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called. And he often meets our needs through other people. Help may not come in the form or person you expected – but that’s OK. God is creative. Be open to new possibilities!

Then – take a deep breathe – and ask. Reach out and say:

“Right now, things are really hard in our house. 
Could you possibly (insert request here) for a month 
or two while we get back on our feet?”

Worst case scenario: the answer is no. In that case you're no worse off than before.

However, perhaps it really is a God-directed solution. Perhaps, they will be eager to help.

God equipping the called. 

Thank you, Karen, for this post packed full of practical advice. Adoptive parents, what points really resonated with you? Is there anything you would add?

I know a lot of you are in the adoption process. Leave a comment to share what kinds of help you think you might need when you get home. Saying it online here might make it a little easier to say it in person when the time comes!

Karen blogs at Casa de Alegria.

1 comment:

  1. What Karen said about neighbors being the first line of support rang true to me. Sometimes the help that is the nearest is the best!


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