Adopting a child isn’t easy. It’s a long, emotional process full of financial, legal, and medical twists and turns. It’s also full of questions:
What do I need to do before taking the child home?
How do I connect with an adopted child?
How do I take care of an adopted baby?
These are common and very valid questions and concerns. To help you better ease into the adoption process, here are eight things you should know before adopting a child.
1. Do your research.
Before you can hold that precious child in your arms, there’s a lot to learn and understand about adoption. Along with knowing the process of adoption, you’ll also want to learn the language, definitions, and state and federal regulations for adoption.
Research what you can online. Take online adoption courses. Read books about adoption. But perhaps most importantly, use your local resources, such as adoption agencies in your area, attorneys, and any adoptive parents you know. The more you know, the more prepared you’ll be to go through the adoption process and be an adoptive parent.
2. Know there will be good days and bad days.
There will be ups and downs during the adoption process. There will be good news and bad news. There will be stressful meetings and phone calls. There will be lots of paperwork and waiting. But there will also be excitement and smiles. To help yourself get through this process, remember to be patient, be hopeful, and let go of the things you can’t control.
3. Budget for planned and extra expenses.
From agency and court fees to counseling and at-home visits, total adoption costs can range anywhere from $2,000 to $40,000 or more, depending on the adoption path you choose. Make sure you budget for all the fees and upfront costs, as well as expenses you may not at first realize, like hotel stays and eating out while traveling, translation costs, birth parent expenses, higher phone bills, etc.
4. Get all the essentials.
One of the fun parts of adopting a child is getting all the stuff, like clothes, bottles, baby carrier, baby monitor, crib, blankets, backpack diaper bag, toys, car seat stroller combo, towels, baby shampoo, high chair, and more. A shopping list for adoptive parents is long and pricey, but I bet you’ll enjoy spending this money.
5. Line up needed medical professionals.
Once you have information about the child you’re receiving, find the professional help needed to properly care for your child, such as a pediatrician and pediatric dentist. If your child has any special medical needs or problems, find out the types of medical specialists they’ll need to see and then find ones nearby to take them to.
It’s also a good idea to contact a family therapist, specifically one who’s trained to work with adoptive families. You never know how soon you’ll need to see one of these professionals, and it’s better to have them selected so you can give your child the care they need right when they need it.
6. Consider cocooning.
Whether you bring home a newborn or a 13-year-old, your child needs time to adjust to their new surroundings and attach to you and your partner as their parents. They need time and space before meeting too many new people or experiencing life outside the home, which is why many parents try cocooning or nesting.
Cocooning is a period of time where you stay at home and you and your partner are the sole caregivers. It’s a time for life to hopefully settle down for the child, for the child to attach to mom and dad, and for you to bond with your adopted child. If you adopted a baby, wearing them is a great way to bond and create a secure attachment.
Some parents cocoon for six weeks, while others do it for several months, slowly working family members and outings into the mix. You know yourself and your child best. Trust your instincts on whether cocooning is right for you and your child, how you want to do it, and how long you want to do it.
7. Take care of yourself and your partnership.
Adoption can be stressful for kids, but it’s stressful for parents, too. Your life is turned upside down just as much as theirs. So while it’s important to get everyone comfortable and in a good routine, once you’re settled in, make time for self-care.
Do the things that make you happy or help you blow off steam, like going out with your girlfriends once a month or going to the gym. And don’t forget about your partner. Make time for each other. Make each other feel important. Remind each other that you’re more than a parent.
8. Remember who the most important person in adoption is.
You are important. Your partner is important. But with adoption, never forget who the most important person is—the child. Remembering that will help you do all these things and help you be prepared to adopt and parent your brand new beautiful child.
Adopting a child is hard. It’s time-consuming. It will likely cause tears of sadness and joy. But no matter the path you take to adopting, any adoptive parent will tell you it’s all worth it in the end.