August 31, 2011
Preparing to welcome an adopted child is an incredible gift, much like preparing to welcome a birthchild. But the waiting is also a challenge, which inevitable questions like,
• When will we receive a referral?
• How are we going to pay for the adoption AND be able to afford having a child?
• Am I ready to be a parent?
The answers to these questions are never easy, but you may find wisdom in taking each question one step at a time. For instance, as much as you can tell yourself to be patient and take the adoption as it comes, you will inevitably be surprised when you receive that call—whether it comes extremely early, on time, or later than you had hoped. To ease the waiting period, try to network with some other adoptive families and get together for a time of reflecting and community. Ask them if they’re willing to share their stories, or even take a phone call when you need encouragement. Most families who adopt through MLJ are willing to share their experiences with those who are new in the process.
Another way to make the waiting period a positive one is to start a journal or adoption blog while you wait. Write about your excitement as well as the insecurities you may feel as a new adoptive parents. If you feel comfortable, invite friends and family to read your adoption blog. Letting other people in on the experience may feel scary, but you’ll be surprised how sharing something so personal to you will allow others to reflect on your experience and support you when you need that extra boost of encouragement.
Financial preparations for adoption are critical, just like emotional preparations. As much as you can plan your finances and save accordingly, you never know when you’re going to have a leaky roof. For that reason, you may find it wise to start saving money in two separate funds: an adoption fund (to go toward fees associated with adoption and travel) and a family fund (to go towards the child’s needs once he or she is home). This second fund could include the early purchase of formula, clothing, or furniture for an older child. Some expectant parents suggest buying a pack of diapers each time you go to the grocery store, just to get used to the cost. You may start putting away an extra $20 each grocery trip, to account for some of the extra spending you will do once a new child is at home. A natural transition, starting a year ahead of time, is likely going to be an easier adjustment than a sudden transition when you’ve already welcomed your new child home.
Finally, your emotional readiness as an adoptive parent is going to vary from day to day. That’s okay. In order to prepare for adoption, it’s a good idea to resource yourself with adoption books (ask your agency for recommendations). Begin to read about (and talk about) how you will explain adoption to your child. Participate in discussions with friends and family on the topic, and find some time with your spouse or with yourself to pray and seek out solitude and reflection amidst the activity of the adoption journey.
Although many details of an adoption are out of your control, you can still make these healthy preparations as you welcome a child into your home.
Photo Credit: Flickr/pplflickr