5 Tips to Survive the First Months Home After an Adoption

1. Preparation

So much of being successful as a parent is being prepared. While it is impossible to know everything that will be needed for a child before they come home, there is still a lot that can be done. 

With adoption, timelines are not always certain. You may not bring home a baby. Most registries for new parents are not designed for adopting older children. There is so much to think about before welcoming a child into your home that it helps to sit down and make a list. It seems simple, but it helps me prioritize what needed to get done.

Some things on the list were obvious like preparing a room for the new child but. Other things were less obvious. I wanted to get several house projects done. Yes, they were not essential, but after bringing home a child, I knew we wouldn’t have the time or energy to accomplish these tasks for a while. As we got closer to our travel dates, I got the oil changed in the cars and got a haircut and just did a lot of errands that would be much harder immediately after an adoption. 

Then, as we learned more about the 5-year-old boy we were adopting, I was able to buy clothing and a few toys. We also spent time preparing our daughter mentally for the changes to come. 

2. Perspective

5 Simple Ways to Prepare Your Home for an Adopted Child

We adopted our son from the Philippines and that included a trip across the world. Along with my husband and myself, we brought our daughter and my mother-in-law. After spending more than 20 hours on planes and in airports, we were ready to be home. After two years of hoping and praying, we were finally home as a family of four. There were so many emotions, but what I didn’t expect was how trying it would be. 

Our son was grieving his first home and adjusting to a new language, culture, food, smells, and more. He wasn’t sleeping well at all. He also had several medical issues that we were working through. He had big, painful emotions we were helping him work through. The days were long and the nights were longer. Lots of screaming and tears. We knew this was possible. When children are working through painful emotions they cannot contain it in their little bodies. 

A couple of weeks into the sleepless nights, I was ragged and emotionally spent. We were cocooning so I didn’t have my friends or my normal circles of support from my family. We talked often on the phone, but I was missing social interaction. When I did talk to people, they didn’t understand our predicament. On the outside, people saw a miracle, a happy family. They didn’t see the hours each night rocking an inconsolable child. 

From my perspective, I had chosen adoption, so now I shouldn’t complain when it is hard. I knew it was going to be hard. This is not a good perspective for a new parent to have. Yes, I chose adoption, but no person chooses months of sleep deprivation. I had to work on changing my perspective for this season.

I would tell myself that moms of newborns do not have children sleeping through the night. I would remind myself that a loved child is more important than a clean kitchen. Time spent with my child was more important than a clean house. Someday I would have the energy and time again to keep up. I gave myself grace and perspective for this season.

3. Patience

I thought I was a patient person until I became a mom. So much of my day is waiting on my little people. Kids have to be taught everything from emotional regulation to how to pull up their pants without falling over. 

I want to grab my child’s hand and make them hurry up but I have to practice patience with them and myself in those months after an adoption. There is so much change and stress and it will be a while before life has some normalcy. It doesn’t matter if it is an infant adoption or an older child, parents need patience in this season. 

I had to be patient with myself when I did not get all the things I wanted to get done. I need patience with my spouse who was not trying to be rude when he asked if we have any more peanut butter. The answer is “no, we do not, because I have not had a chance to shop, because life is crazy at the moment.” And most of all I need patience for my child who has slow responses or a short fuse because he is so overwhelmed by all the changes in his tiny world. 

5 Tips to Survive the First Months Home After an Adoption

4. Practice

Something I didn’t realize until becoming a parent was that it takes practice. A mom doesn’t just wake up knowing all the answers and even if she knows what she wants to do it still takes time. Like the previous point, you have to practice being patient and learn to take a breath before speaking. This and many other skills of parenting take practice. 

Every day I have to practice not yelling. I grew up in a yelling house. We yelled when we were mad and we yelled when we were happy. We also just yelled to get each other’s attention. As a parent, I am working on my anger and not yelling about everything. I am also practicing intentional floor times with my kids. I do not naturally get on the ground and play with toys. I plan activities and games that require me to get on their level. 

It also takes practice for the child. Our child was 5 when he came home. He has to learn all the routines and culture of our family. We eat dinner as a family each night. We have Pancake Saturday each week. We have bedtimes and we do Bible stories before prayers and then off to sleep. This child had to practice all the rituals and procedures of a new home and new family. It all takes time. 

5. Perseverance

“Just keep swimming.” “One day at a time.” “Give us today our daily bread.” These are all things my husband and I have said to each other the months after the adoption. Also, “You are doing great!”You are a great mom/dad!” “We got this!” 

My husband is such an amazing parenting partner. While I stay home with the kids, and he works a mentally taxing and time-consuming job,  he is a super-involved dad. He works from home and pops in throughout the day to offer support and encouragement and even breaks sometimes. After his paternity leave was over, I was terrified to be on my own. Perseverance is the long haul. Having encouragement helps. 

Also, thinking of taking each day at a time as it came. We don’t look too far into the future. When running a marathon, you don’t think of all 26 miles. You only think about this step, this mile right in front of you. It can become discouraging if you look too far down the road. 

On days when we think we can’t go on, we have to stop and decide that we will. Sometimes that means a short rest. Sometimes that means a mental break. Sometimes that is a bath. But then you get up and make dinner while holding a child who is too big to be carried but you do it anyways. The strength comes from somewhere deep inside. 

Just think about the next step—the next breath. One day you will wake up and are not be so tired. It takes time and you guessed it, perseverance. 

5 Tips to Survive the First Months Home After an Adoption