Congratulations on your decision to adopt. Starting or adding to a family by way of adoption is a wonderful option to open your heart and your home to a child; you will be paid in excess of hugs, kisses, and unconditional love for the rest of your life—truly the best possible payment of any kind. But the ride to getting to the opening gate can be an emotional one.
Sure, you may have thought the emotional part was over when you finally agreed to adopt a child when the truth of the matter is…it was barely the tip of the iceberg. So many long conversations and hours of worry were spent in order to come to the one single important decision in your upcoming future. But what’s next?
Hold on. Things are about to get crazy!
Our personal adoption story was filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, a lot of waiting, a lot of tears, a lot of hope, and a lot of prayers. Going into the unknown is scary and can be exciting at the same time. It’s amazing how many different emotions can be called upon within the matter of one day or sometimes even within an hour.
You’ve already made the decision to become parents, next you have to make the decision about how to proceed. You’ll need to decide how you’re going to handle whatever comes thrown at you next, or if you’re like me, you’ll just wait to see how things play out. In the meantime, while you’re reading and doing your research, I’d like to share a few key important things to remember while you’re in the initial stages of being hopeful new parents from someone who has been where you are now.
The wait can be long, cruel, and intimidating. You and your partner will need to build a support system for each other; sometimes while one is having a weak moment, the other may be able to be the stronger of the two. Keep in mind the wait is just all part of it. Your call will happen. The stars just have to be aligned in the right order for everything to work out, and they will.
Don’t lose hope. Even though there will be days, and believe me, there WILL be days where you think you’ll never become a parent, it will happen. Try to work on ways to calm your anxiety. Having a good support of friends and family around you is essential; someone among the many will have just the piece of advice that helps you get through your emotional roller coaster times.
Keep the lines of communication open. If you’re working with an adoption agency, understand how and when they’ll contact you about possible matches. If something doesn’t work for you, find a way that will work for you and the adoption agency. It might be making or receiving a status call or email once a week. Rest assured, someone is always working hard to make you a parent. Their business is making families happen. Imagine that responsibility.
Start getting ready. Becoming a parent is exciting. You may have a nursery to decorate, a name to choose, clothes to buy. Keep the list of important items close at hand for when you need to occupy your mind and make a checklist of all the things you’ve already done in preparation of the new arrival to help keep your sanity.
Rest up! I realize your emotions are running on overdrive at the thought of having a child of your own to love, and sleep may not come easy, but just know—especially if you’re planning for a newborn—sleep is a precious commodity. Get it while you can. Maybe go on a long weekend and try to find new ways to relax. Just because your life feels like it’s in limbo, I can guarantee plenty of exciting things are still happening everywhere around you.
Read. There are so many good books, articles, and blogs to read about being first-time parents or about becoming adoptive parents. Reading is a luxury at this point in your journey. Take the time and use it well to educate yourself.
Keep positive. Find something new to entertain your mind when the little self-doubts come crawling in, and they will. Don’t make yourself crazy wondering if you’ll be a good parent or playing the “what if” game. Anything can happen, but if you keep your wits about you, you can manage it.
Stay active. You will need to be strong and healthy when the big day arrives. I remember asking my doctor if I should start lifting small weights to get used to the weight of a baby. I regret not listening to my gut. While the weight of the baby in my arms wasn’t the issue, the weight of carrying her in her car seat along with 20 pounds of accessories was a lot.
Make a journal. Keep little things in a book that someday you may want to share with your bundle-to-be; write little notes to the baby telling him or her about your life, your wisdom, family traditions, or even current events. Someday, down the road, it might just be the perfect thing to share with your child.
Don’t forget to keep yourself first. While you’re waiting to become parents, take the time you won’t have after the baby’s arrival to pamper yourself a bit. Take a long walk, have a long soak in a hot tub, or treat yourself to a day at the spa (and yes, even men can go to the spa, too). There won’t be a lot of time for yourself after the new arrival comes home.
While there are lots of things to think and do and plan and rethink and redo and replan, try to enjoy what’s happening in your life now, too. Your call will happen, and you will be granted every wish you’ve ever hoped for in becoming a parent. But in the meantime, while you’re waiting, don’t forget to enjoy the moment. What’s coming next will change everything in your world, and it will be worth every agonizing minute you’ve spent waiting. Becoming an adoptive family is an incredible experience; make sure to enjoy all the working parts as they come.
Are you ready to pursue a domestic infant adoption? Click here to connect with a compassionate, experienced adoption professional who can help get you started on the journey of a lifetime.