How do I support a grandparent in adoption?
I want to know how to support grandparents in adoption. I am trying to help my friend who just found out her youngest daughter had a baby shortly before she moved back home. She put the baby up for adoption in an open adoption. How do I help this grandmother? How do I comfort her? I can’t imagine what she’s going through–I have two grandchildren myself. Mutual so-called friends have told her to kick her daughter out. I know this isn’t right, and she’d never do that. She wants to be there for her daughter. Any suggestions? -P.T.
Thanks for your email. First, let me say that your friend is lucky to have you. Losing a grandchild to adoption can be isolating and lonely, which only compounds the grief. We frequently forget to provide adoption support to birth grandparents. Many so-called friends avoid others who are going through these difficult times of grief. It says a lot about you as a person that you want to be there for your friend and to support her. To that end, I have just a few thoughts for you.
The most valuable thing you can do is listen
First, I think the most important and valuable thing you can do is to listen. Don’t offer unsolicited advice and opinions. Just be there when she needs to talk or to cry or to vent. Listen with love and concern, not with judgment. Be supportive and affirm whatever feelings she is having; trust me, they are all normal and will run the gamut! The grieving process is a roller coaster, and she will need time to process in her own way. You don’t have to give advice to support grandparents in adoption. Just listen.
Get her out of the house to take her mind off things
Second, it can be helpful when someone is processing grief, to get her out of the house to take her mind off of things. Go for a walk with her, take her to a movie or to lunch. Find some activity that she enjoys that you can engage her in to distract her for a little while. Talk about things other than her daughter and the baby. The first year is the hardest, especially with important milestones like baby’s birthday and mother’s day. On these days, just tell her you’re thinking of her. She’ll understand why. The most important thing to remember is to just be there to provide support.
Reaffirm her decision to be there for her daughter
Finally, if your friend asks for advice, I believe the best you can offer is that she love and forgive her daughter. Tell her you support her for being there for her daughter. Whatever other friends think and are saying about her daughter, there is no question that she made an incredibly hard, painful, and brave decision. She will be processing and trying to cope with the grief and loss for the rest of her life. She needs love and support, not judging and shaming.
Thank you again for reaching out. I wish you all the very best!