Tips for Parents Who Are Waiting to Adopt

by Laura Christianson

Adoptive parents: If you had it to do over again, what would you do differently during the time you’re waiting to adopt your child?

An article in Adoptive Families online featured responses from several parents. Here’s what veteran parents would have done differently:

Set ground rules for extended family.
The last thing you need when you’re waiting is daily calls from Grandma and Grandpa, wondering whether anything has happened.

Laura’s Tip: Establish regular dates and times that you’ll contact them with updates, regardless of whether there are any new developments. Remember that for your extended family and friends, the waiting period is your ‘pregnancy.’ It’s an important time of emotional preparation for them, as well. Providing them with regular updates helps them to feel a part of the process and prepares them to begin loving your future child.

Schedule a date to shop for items for your child and to babyproof your home.
This is a toughie, as many waiting parents don’t like to shop for baby/child items until they are certain of the date their child will arrive home. They tend to hope for the best but assume the worst, and put off decorating their child’s room, buying clothes and babyproofing until the last possible second.

Laura’s Tip: People adopting internationally can usually predict the homecoming date with reasonable accuracy, and can begin collecting items for their child well in advance. If you’re adopting an older child, you might want to buy a few things, and allow your child to pick out most of his or her own clothes and room decor. This will empower your child and will demonstrate to her that you respect her judgment.

Those adopting domestically may have days or even hours to prepare for their child’s arrival. I suggest stocking your home with essentials: a car seat, diapers, formula, etc. as soon as the home study is completed, so if your child arrives suddenly, you’ll be somewhat prepared.

Prepare and freeze meals in advance of your child’s arrival.
Women who give birth often stock the freezer with casseroles and such, and adoptive parents should do the same. Adoptive parents tend to underestimate just how exhausted they’re going to be the first few weeks and months after their child’s arrival.

Laura’s Tip: Fix-and-freeze services such as Dream Dinners (which has locations in many states) are a wonderful way to stock up on healthy meals that you assemble yourself and store in your freezer to pull out when you’re too tired to cook. They also make great shower gifts!

Enroll in baby-care and child-care classes.
Adoptive parents get so wrapped up in all the nitpicky details of the home study process that they may neglect to prepare for parenting their child once he or she arrives home.

Laura’s Tip: Do you know how to change a diaper? Take a rectal temp (eeew)? Know what to do when your infant spikes a fever? Are you prepared to deal with a toddler temper tantrum? Most hospitals and some adoption agencies offer great parenting classes that will help you feel more confident as a parent.

Take care of yourself.
Adopting is a stressful journey, and it helps to eat right, exercise and get some recreation.

Laura’s Tip: Go to the movies. Visit the mall. Go skiing or rollerblading (or whatever sport you enjoy). Go out to dinner with your partner or with friends. You won’t have much time to do these things once your child arrives. Healthy activities help you avoid obsessing about adoption every moment of your day. Establish boundaries on the time you spend reading adoption listserves and blogs (except this one, of course!)

Get involved with your local adoption community.
Laura’s Tip: Probably the most important thing you can do for the long-term health of you and your family is to meet other adoptive parents. You’ll find them at regional support groups such as Families with Children From China. You’ll find them in your church. You’ll find them via online adoptive parent support groups. You’ll find them via local adoption agencies. Connecting with others who have "been there, done that" is a huge source of encouragement for every adoptive parent. They understand the anxiety of waiting. They understand the unique issues that adoptive families face. They sometimes provide built-in playgroups for your child. Best of all, they’ll introduce you to other adoptive families.

Inspiration for this article came from "Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda," by Lisa Milbrand, Adoptive Families online magazine.

For more articles about adoption, visit my Web site:

Kendall Everett September 13, 2016 at 7:09 PM

I loved your tip to set up regular times to check in with family who may be wondering about the adoption. It makes a difference if you don’t have to stress about fielding calls from family and friends. Another thing that would make a difference is including them in any emails you receive with updates.

Previous post:

Next post: