Now is the time to prepare for the emotions and challenges that will accompany the joys and delights of parenthood through adoption. Make sure to have a plan for life after adoption. Today, Lifetime shares 11 things that you can do now, so you’re ready for what the future holds!
- Make calls to your insurance provider to learn about the requirements and time frames for adding your child to our medical, dental, and other insurance plans. Review your life insurance, too, now that you are growing your family.
- If you will need childcare or to enroll an older child in school, begin your research, especially if you will need an English-as-a-second-language (ESL) program. Talk to other adoptive parents about their experiences to help prepare you for yours. If you are seeking a newborn and will need day care to return to work, speak with other new moms to get their recommendations.
- Let your employer know you are adopting and look into your options for taking maternity leave.
- A pediatrician is going to become a valuable resource for you as your child grows and develops. Interview different prospects and ask them important questions to ensure their philosophy is in line with yours.
- Find support groups for new moms in your area. If you live in a larger city or suburb, you may be fortunate enough to find adoption support groups. These can be a valuable network, especially if adopting internationally or an older child.
- Read, read, read! Prepare for parenthood by reading books on adoptive parenting and general parenting. Prepare for the age your child will be when you welcome them home and discuss issues like discipline and parenting style now with your spouse.
- Prepare to preserve and share your child’s heritage with them, especially if it differs substantially from your own. If your child may have unique or different ethnic needs, plan now in order to minimize frustration down the road. For example, if you are adopting an African American child, you may need to learn about their specific hair care needs.
- It is common for adoptive parents to experience a letdown once the child is home. After months, or even years, of time-consuming preparation and anxiety, the sudden shift may seem anti-climatic. With infant or toddler adoptions, sleep deprivation can compound the problem. If you find yourself feeling down, consult a counselor or talk with other adoptive parents about how they coped.
- While there is no doubt about the heart-swelling love you feel for your new child, be sure to find a balance. Leave room in your life for your spouse, family, and friends, and take time for fun activities that provide a break from the responsibilities of new parenthood. A scheduled once-a-week diversion like date night is a sure remedy to avoid burnout!
- Be realistic and patient. Your new family is real life, not a fairytale. Despite your best intentions and your best efforts, things are not likely to fall happily into place immediately, especially if you are adopting an older child. Allow everyone time to adjust. Most important, even if things are amazingly smooth in the beginning, prepare yourself mentally for the ups and downs that are sure to come with parenting any child.
- Create an emergency support network. Know whom you can call for everything from medical emergencies to last-minute babysitting. Be sure you can count on the people you select, and try to line up more than one for each contingency. For example, if you are delayed at work and can’t pick your child up form day care, make sure there is someone besides your spouse who can fill in for you.
These tips on planning for after the adoption were excerpted from Lifetime Adoption Founder Mardie Caldwell’s most recent book, Called to Adoption.
Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P., is nationally recognized as an expert on open adoption. A Certiﬁed Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P.), Caldwell is the founder of Lifetime Adoption Center, established in 1986. She has assisted in over 2,000 successful adoptions and was one of the ﬁrst adoption professionals on the Internet.
Caldwell’s life work is dedicated to educating and helping birth parents find the right adoptive parents for their child. She spreads the word about modern adoption through speaking appearances, webinars, online resources, and as a podcast show host.
She has written several award-winning books, including So I Was Thinking About Adoption, the first book of its kind. There are many reasons women choose adoption, and this short book is a comprehensive resource to make the best plan for you and your baby. Caldwell wrote So I Was Thinking About Adoption as a handy guide to the details of the adoption process.
Caldwell has made over 150 media appearances, including ABC News, CBS News, Larry King Live, CNN Headline News, NBC’s The Today Show, CNN’s The Campbell Brown Show, NBC News, KGO Newstalk Radio, CNN’s Black in America II, MSNBC, Fox, PBS, BBC, and Dr. Laura.