Makena, the expectant mother who has chosen to place with us, is due in less than a week. To say we are anxious would be a gross understatement. In 2 Reason to Prepare for a New Baby, I shared with you why I get a nursery ready. My husband and I are prepared emotionally for the birth and placement of a baby boy, and we are also prepared emotionally if she decides parenting is right for her. We are excited to have another open adoption, yet we are prepared in case we experience another failed adoption. We will support and love her no matter what she ultimately decides for her and her baby.
While we can cope with our own feelings and emotions, we also need to prepare our 2-year-old daughter for the addition of a new baby brother and also teach her that as much as we want a new baby, it might not happen. Expectant moms can change their minds, and it’s okay if they do. I’m sure Amelia, at 2, doesn’t understand all of what we are saying, but at least we are having the conversation. She repeats what we are saying and I think she understands, for the most part.
1. Talk About Adoption Openly
We talk about Amelia’s birth mom, Breanna, and how Amelia grew in her belly. We talk about the reasons why Breanna placed Amelia in our home and how grateful we are for her. We also talk about how baby brother is growing in Makena’s belly. We talk about how we hope that she chooses to give us the gift of a baby brother, but she decides if that’s the right decision for her.
2. Read Books About Adoption
Every night we read two books before bed. Lately we’ve been adding in a third book about adoption. During or after reading the book I relate sections of the book to her adoption story or to our current adoption, always stressing that her birth mom, Breanna, loves her SO much and loves that she is in the family of her choosing! We tell her about her first night at home, her first visitors, and how our dog, Ace, loved her and watched over her from the very beginning.
3. Ask for Help Preparing Baby Items
Asking a 2-year-old to “help” put baby clothes into a dresser drawer is not actually helpful. Amelia prefers to unfold, hug and kiss every item before wrapping it up in a ball and stuffing it into whichever drawer she prefers at that moment.
Using her baby dolls, we have been learning how to hold, rock and soothe, and burp a baby. Burping is of course her favorite part. She likes to put her baby doll in the baby’s side of the double stroller and have me push her around the house.
4. Make Room for Baby
We have moved Amelia’s car seat to the other side of the car to make her recognize that things in her life will have to change with the addition of a new baby, and she is going to have to roll with the punches. We have cleaned out her toy boxes of all very small toys and educated her that a baby could possibly put small toys into his mouth and choke on them. We also tell her that we need to clean up toys as soon as we are done playing with them. Now every time she cleans up her toys she tells me it’s because of baby brother. Win for mom!
5. Plan a Trip
Makena lives in another state, so we will be traveling for the birth and staying in her state until ICPC clears us to leave the state and come home. We could be there anywhere from five days to a little over two weeks. Amelia will be staying with my mom for a “Gram Trip,” as we are calling it. My mom and Amelia are planning all sorts of fun things to do together so for Amelia, it will feel more like a special weekend for her rather than grandma babysitting her.
Amelia is only 2, and I’m sure she doesn’t understand the adoption process. But by us having open conversations, she can comment, ask questions, and talk about whose belly she grew in, and whose belly brother is growing in, although the conversation usually ends up with her talking about how Makena has a puppy named Jack and how Gram Susan who gave her a ski suit. Our hope is that these conversations can continue long after our family is complete.