We asked several adoptive parents what advice they would give to current families on our wait list. This is their advice…
Here’s a few that I can think of off the top of my head:
Things can happen VERY quickly in the adoption world. (We met found out about our son’s birth mother one day, met her the following day and picked up our baby at the hospital the day after that!) We found ourselves completely unprepared (we’d never had an infant before) and had to scramble like mad to get the basics ready for his arrival. Get the infant car seat, bottles, diapers, wipes, soothers, blankets, etc. before you worry about decorating the nursery. Babies don’t care what color the walls are!!) Miracles can (and do) happen without notice!!
- Keep talking about your adoption plans.
Sometimes friends and family hesitate to talk about adoption because they aren’t sure if YOU want to talk about it. If you’re comfortable about sharing, then share. It makes them feel included and it gives you the support system you’re going to need in the future.
- Accept your feelings after placement.
It’s always a joyful time when a baby comes home. But, and I know it sounds strange, after you meet your birth family and you see how difficult it is for them, you will feel a great deal of sadness. I’ve always called it “Adopters Guilt”. I think for the adoptive mother, it’s especially hard. As a mother, you see your family growing while you know there’s another mother who is leaving “empty-handed”. While it does subside over time, I always feel it again on my children’s birthdays. That day is special because it brought this little person into my life, but I know there’s also someone out there that is remembering that day too and it may not be such a happy day.
- If you have a concern, contact your coordinator ASAP.
Let’s face it. There can be some uncomfortable situations when it comes to the initial placement. If you feel that you don’t have all the information you need or even if something just doesn’t feel quite right, don’t be afraid to voice your concerns to your adoption coordinator. Sometimes members of the birth family don’t agree with the adoption plan, the birth parent(s) can be hesitant about revoking their rights, etc.. With our 1stadoption at AOW, our son was placed with us almost immediately after his birth. After having him for almost a month, his birth mother had still not consented to having her parental rights revoked. She wasn’t returning phone calls from the agency and we were getting concerned that she was going to change her mind. Our 7-year old was becoming very attached and we had to make a decision to keep this baby in our home or to put him into bridge care until her decision was more concrete. Emotionally, we had to protect ourselves. We brought this to our coordinator’s attention and she set up a meeting with our birth mother within days and everything moved forward after that. Had we not said anything, we could have spent several more weeks waiting and wondering what our future would hold.
- Things do come up…just breathe through it and plan ahead if you can!!
There will be unforeseen things that do pop up when it comes to your adoption. If they don’t, consider yourself one of the lucky ones. Most of the time, it’s just a matter of playing the waiting game and all works out good in the end. Sometimes it takes time AND some additional legal expertise. In my opinion, if you can plan to have some extra money set aside for that…do it!! With our 2nd adoption at AOW, one of the birth parents was a registered member of a Native American tribe. That brought on a whole list of items (and subsequent delays) while we waited for the tribe to respond to emails and approve our home study. Unfortunately, we needed additional legal help which also required additional money which we hadn’t budgeted. Luckily, our adoption coordinator and the attorney were willing to work with us and kept us apprised of estimated costs so we could make arrangements. As with anything, it’s better to over-estimate than under-estimate.
I would suggest for waiting families to have fun slowly buying things for the nursery and looking for good deals. You know eventually a baby is coming and that you will need these things, so i had fun looking at baby stuff. It also helped to talk with friends and getting the word out since you never know where this child will come from and where the connection will be made.
For *** and I, we didn’t have to wait long at all, we were actually rushing to get things in on time, so for us the waiting didn’t apply but I’m sure it gets really long for the families that do.
- If you are crafty; make home made baby items (afghans, scrapbooks, mobiles, etc.)
- Support groups might be helpful to some.
- Thinking of names is always fun.
- getting the education requirements done takes time so that can be a nice distraction.
My advice would be to be proactive. We didn’t sit around waiting for that life-changing phone call. We still were getting the word out that we were hoping to adopt (dropping off pass along cards—emailing our digital profile to anyone that would take it), we were pursuing internet leads etc…
I have friends who blogged throughout their journey.
I used online adoption chat forums to talk to others while we waited and developed many friendships with others in other states. There are a few online friends that I talk to via the phone on a regular basis.
If you ever have any pre-adoptive parents out there that are looking to connect with someone, please feel free to pass along my email. I’d love to give advice or just support anyone that needs some!! It really helped me throughout my journey!
We did things like take classes and read Adoptive Families magazine and a few books, but I think the best thing we did was focus on savoring the things we loved most, like traveling or gardening or reading a whole book–things we knew we probably wouldn’t be doing for a while once a baby did come into our lives (and were we ever right!). To parents who are waiting I would say, “Slow down and enjoy whatever you love doing to the fullest. Not only will it help keep you calm and centered during a stressful time, you’re cultivating the very things your child may enjoy as much as you do one day. Even now, before your baby has found you, you are setting a good example for how to live a life well lived.”
As you know, patience is not my virtue and once we understood the wait was going to be longer than we originally were told, I started looking at alternative options and ultimately worked with Jodi (attorney from the Florida Adoption Law Group). I could control that, but life is full of unknowns; we try not to focus on things we cannot control—like when our baby was going to find us. The anticipation and wonder was always there, but we didn’t change anything. My advice, relax and reconnect; the requirements—classes, appointments, paperwork, portfolio, etc.—can be all consuming, especially if you both work. Live your life, go on date nights, be with friends—your life will change exponentially once your little one arrives and you will wonder what you used to do with all your time (and money).
My advice is nothing earth shattering but was good for us! Stay very active in your current place in life. Pretty hard to plan the specific dates for parenthood of any kind. Don’t put things on hold because you are waiting for that call, this will really cause the time to inch by. Getting more involved in activities to keep you busy and happy in life will also present well when you meet the birth moms. Also, have a few close and very postive friends or family who you can call and cry when you just feel the emotions building up, you need to release these emotions so you can go on without getting caught up in the stress of interviews and waiting.
For me my faith was huge, I knew the plan God had was far greater than anything I could develop so trust in that relationship was key also.
Shopping! Garage sales, Craigslist, etc. for big items. Decorate the nursery. Babysit your friends’ kids. Keep busy! Take up a new hobby. I taught myself how to crochet. Crochet some hats and booties, blankets, etc. for your baby. Blog it! Create a facebook page for your adoption journey to keep friends and family up to date, and to vent your frustrations, joys, etc. Focus on your relationship with your spouse or significant other…travel if you can afford to or schedule “date” nights.
I was a part of a Waiting Families group when I lived in Dallas. It was great just to meet onece a month and talk about where we were in the process, and to talk about what kinds of things have helped each other pass the time while waiting.