How to Prepare for Adoption: Welcoming a New Child into the Family
Adopting a child can be one of the most exciting, challenging and rewarding experiences of anyone’s life. But no matter how long you have anticipated such a moment, nothing can quite prepare you for that magical event when that warm little bundle of joy is placed in your arms or when you hold the child’s hand and walk in together to his/her new home. The following are a few tips on how to prepare for adoption and welcome a new child into the family:
Get your hands on some well-respected adoption books that can walk you through the different stages of the adoption process and give you an idea of what to expect once your baby or child is with you. Read about other adoptive parents’ experiences on adoption blogs or forums to gain some first-hand insight into the highs and lows of raising an adopted child.
Find out as much as you possibly can about your baby’s family history, background and culture (if you are adopting internationally). This will help you to understand where your child is coming from, allowing you to ease their transition into their new life.
Think about the style of parenting you are going to use and make a plan for how you are going to manage potential complications or issues that arise as your baby develops.
Realize that no amount of reading and research will prepare you 100% for the reality of bringing your baby home. Accept that not everything will go according to plan and that you must continue to learn as you go along, keeping positive at all times.
Prepare Other Children in Advance
If you already have children — adopted or biological — it is important that you prepare them for the arrival of their new little brother or sister. “Surprising” them with a new sibling is not recommended.
Many children can feel threatened by the sudden arrival of a new addition to the family. They may feel jealous of the attention the baby is receiving and develop hostile feelings towards him/her as a result.
The best way to prepare for this is to educate your existing children about the adoption process and emotionally prepare them for the arrival of their new sibling. Let them know how exciting it will be that the new baby will look up to the older sibling for love, guidance and protection. Also assure the older sibling(s) that he or she will play a very important and heroic role as big brother/big sister to the new baby. Above all, clarify that you have enough endless love to go around for all your children.
Gather Baby Supplies
If you plan on adopting an infant, you may be overwhelmed trying to figure out what you need given all the baby products on the market. You can end up buying everything, or find yourself in need of supplies. Here are some guidelines on what items are absolutely essential for your baby’s arrival:
- Baby clothes: Stick with the essentials – plenty of comfy, cozy baby onesies, an arsenal of bibs, some warm, cotton hats and baby booties. If the baby you are adopting has yet to be born, stick with gender-neutral colors such as yellow, red or green – the gender is never 100% certain until the baby arrives!
- Feeding supplies: There are hundreds of different baby bottles on the market. Your baby might prefer one type to the other, so choose a selection of three or four different types and buy a couple of each. You can buy more once you figure out your baby’s preference. You will also need to buy baby formula, which is best to ask a pediatrician (or perhaps other mommies) for a recommendation on same. You will also need lots of burping cloths, as babies tend to spit up a lot!
- Hygiene supplies: You will need diapers, lots of them! Choose the right size according to your baby’s size. Common sense will also tell you that since a baby is just a tiny version of yourself, he or she will need baby shampoo and soap, baby lotion, and a washcloth to bathe.
- Equipment: The most important piece of equipment to get is a car seat, as you will need it to transport your baby here and there. A baby sling or wearable carrier is a good idea as it helps you keep your baby close to you while keeping your hands free. Of course, the baby will need a safe crib and blankets.
If you plan on adopting a child, you will have just as much preparation. Purchase brand new clothes for the child, but also plan on taking them shopping once you bring them home. Depending on where they are coming from, such as a foster care facility, they may have never had the opportunity to pick out their own clothes to reflect their personality. Focus on their healthy eating and incorporate fun food recipes, like ants on a log to encourage such habits. They will want to play with toys, but most of all family-oriented games such as Monopoly.
Adopting a child who is older is taking on a large responsibility because they understand the situation they have been put in. Research local child psychologists and work closely with their teachers to make sure that you, as their parent, get them on the right track and provide the love and attention they need.
Book an Appointment with a Pediatrician
It is always a good idea to make an appointment with a pediatrician as soon after your baby arrives as possible. This way you can have your baby thoroughly checked out and ease any concerns you might have about the baby’s health or development. Keep a record of all doctor visits and make sure to calendar whenever the next check-up is due.
As an adoptive parent knows, adoptions cannot happen without the assistance of numerous professionals. Thank foster families, social workers, for your family lawyer, agency and orphanage staff, and anyone else who has helped guide you through this oftentimes difficult process.
Parenting is a unique journey, no matter what road brought you to parenthood. There will always be questions, anxieties, and concerns, even your child is all grown and off to college. Fortunately, there are so many parenting resources out there, from literature to the Internet to friends and family that are also fellow parents (what better advice than from your own parents). Seek support through family, friends, religious organizations, and counseling groups as needed. In the long run, it is up to us to follow our hearts and do what we feel is best for our child and family. Contact Lauriston Law Firm, a family lawyer, today to learn what type of adoption is right for you, how to prepare for adoption, and the process you need to go through.