Home studies, interviews, applications, and paperwork is complete. All is approved and now it’s time to wait. It’s time to wait for a match with a birth mother and then of course, for the birth of the baby. While waiting can quite possibly be the most difficult period during your adoption process, there is no way to rush this waiting period. It will proceed at its own pace no matter what.
From personal betterment, to preparing your home for a child, to important administrative details, we have compiled a list of important tasks for adoptive parents (and birth parents) to do during this time to prepare for their child’s arrival.
Choosing a Doctor. It is important to find a pediatrician (a specialist in child medical care) or family doctor who will offer primary care for the child. If the family does not already have a doctor, the waiting period can be productively used to identify and interview doctors to find one whose philosophy and views regarding care match those of the adoptive parents. Ask your friends, family, co-workers, and adoption agency for referrals. Find a doctor who you feel comfortable with, who is experienced and accepts your insurance, and whose hours and location align with your needs. If you are planning to return to work after your baby arrives, you may also do the same with local child care options. While you do not have to decide now, it can be beneficial to have these resources lined up (especially for those with wait lists).
Preparing a Will. The adoptive parents should consult with an attorney who can help them draw up a will to legally specify the disposition of their assets (equity in a home, property, savings, etc.) and the custody of their new child in the event of their death. With a will in place, the chain of custody for the child can be immediately determined, and assets can be directed toward the child’s new guardian to provide for the welfare of the child. If one or both parents should die without a will, the disposition of their assets would be handled according to state law as determined by probate court, a process that might take a long time complete and will generally not provide optimally for dependent children.
Talking to the Insurance Company. Arrangements should be made to make sure that the new child will be immediately included on the adoptive parents’ health insurance policy. The adoptive parents may wish to purchase life insurance if they don’t already have such policies, so that their new child will be provided for financially in the event of their premature deaths. The adoptive parents should create a list of existing insurance documents, including beneficiary forms for life insurance policies, which will need to be updated once the adoption is finalized.
Take Parenting and Other Relevant Classes. Adoptive parents, especially first-time parents, can take classes that will help prepare them for raising a child. A variety of classes are appropriate, including First Aid or CPR classes, classes for parents of special needs children, or special cultural classes (in the event of an international or multi-racial adoption, to become familiar with an adoptive child’s culture of origin). In some states, first-time adoptive parents are required to complete a parenting training course. Make sure you talk to your adoption agency professionals regarding your state regulations.
Finding Adoption Support Groups. It may also be a good idea to locate one or more support groups of parents who are adopting a child or have previously adopted a child. In support group meetings, people going through similar life events can share their experiences. Sharing personal experiences of the adoption process with others going through the same process can be a helpful way of managing feelings and stress associated with the process. These groups can also be a good source of information and support for adoptive families. Meeting with these families on a regular basis can be a great opportunity to talk through your feelings, ask questions, and get some extra advice and support.
Communicating and Documenting the Adoption. The waiting period can also be a good time to prepare adoption announcements, start a baby book or scrapbook for the child, and keep a journal documenting what parents thought, felt, and did while waiting for their adoptive child to arrive. Journals are a great way to document your feelings and excitement throughout the adoption process. Written or video journals can also make great keepsakes for your child. If you are keeping a traditional journal, write down your thoughts, feelings, ideas, hopes and dreams in a way that can one day become a part of your child’s Lifebook. If you would like to keep a video journal, you can use it as an opportunity to talk to your child, tell stories, and express how excited you are for him or her to come home.
Take advantage of this time with your loved ones. With the holiday season being such a family-focused time, it is normal to feel many different emotions as you wait for an adoption match. It can be easy to dwell on those feelings rather than focus on the people around you. Remember that this time is one to cherish with your loved ones. Spend time with your partner, extended family, best friends, and your children if you are already a parent. Surround yourself with people who make you smile, and make memories together. This time next year, your family may be even larger, but for now, it is important to focus on your relationships with those closest to you.
Read everything you can. Gather resources about adoption, raising adopted children, and on how to talk about adoption positively with others and your child. Do not forget to pick up some child care and development books, too, if you are becoming a first-time parent.
Exercise. You will soon be lifting, carrying, bending, and running more than you have in ages, and doing it all while holding a baby. Try to get in-shape pre-parenthood! Exercise can also help enhance your mood and energy levels, especially if you are feeling extra stressed or anxious. Not to mention fulfill this waiting time with healthy choices!
Make self-care a priority. In addition to exercising, it is important that you eat well (and practice cooking nutritious meals), meditate, sing, dance, play, laugh, read, and/or pray. Do what makes you happy and brings a bit of peace to your day-to-day life. These will help you keep a positive attitude as you look forward to all the new adventures ahead.
Do something for yourself. Whether it is spending a day at the spa, traveling to a new place, or taking up a new hobby, be sure to check something off your “someday” list. Once you become a parent, your schedule will get hectic. Do the things you want to do while you have the time now.
Preparing the Home Childfree households are often not prepared to immediately receive children who will need nursery space. There may be sharp corners, unshielded electrical outlets, unlocked cabinets filled with household cleaners and other hazards that will need to be removed before the child comes home. In addition to safeguarding the house and preparing living space for the baby (including acquiring necessary equipment such as a safe crib, child car seat, etc.), the adoptive family may wish to decorate a bedroom for the child. Family members may wish to plan a baby shower at this time to help the adoptive parents acquire the equipment and clothing they will need. The waiting period is a great time to tackle this to-do list, which might also include some organization or home improvement projects you have been putting off.
Talking to Employers Adoptive parents should inform their employer(s) of their plans. If necessary, a period away from work to be spent with the new child once he or she arrives should be arranged with the employer’s human resources department. Parents who work for an employer with 50 or more employees and who have worked at least 1050 hours during the past year are covered by the United States Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which permits new parents to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from work without fear of losing employment. In addition, many employers have special leave policies for employees who are adopting that may include permission to use vacation or sick time or other paid leave options in place of unpaid leave. With that in mind,
Keep a focus on work. As a hopeful parent, you may be considering leaving your full-time job to stay at home with the baby once he or she is born. Until that time, however, we recommend continuing your daily routine and working as you normally would. Keeping busy with work can make waiting for adoption fly by, and can bring in some extra income before the baby arrives.
While you are at it, find out your company’s “adoption leave” policy. Some employers will offer adoptive parents paid time off upon welcoming their child home. We recommend getting in touch with your supervisor or HR department, to learn about the possibility of taking a leave of absence (with or without pay) when the time comes.
Most importantly, keep a positive attitude. Remember that adoption is a marathon, not a sprint. Keep a positive outlook and never lose hope throughout the adoption process! Adoption Choices of Kansas and Missouri is dedicated to expanding your family through adoption. It will all be worth the wait!