I Prepare by Not Preparing

Some people prepare for adoption by putting together a nursery, gathering supplies, and generally getting ready for the baby. Not me.

Kenna Shumway June 04, 2016
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When it comes to adoption, there are two groups of couples: those who prepare by preparing, and others who prepare by NOT preparing. I am the queen of the latter. In fact, I straight up refused to purchase anything, decorate a nursery, or do anything other than what was required of me by our caseworker and the state.

One group isn’t better than the other. We all have a method to the adoption madness. My method just happens to flirt more closely with procrastination than others.

I remember finding out I was pregnant on Halloween of 2006. It took a few days to really sink in, and up until the loss of that baby girl a few months later, I made zero effort to prepare for having a baby. As I look back on it, I’m really glad that I didn’t put any effort in to preparing. I think that would have made the loss harder than it already was. With each subsequent pregnancy, I stayed on the path of unpreparedness. With each subsequent loss, I sank deeper into myself and refused to do, think, or say anything about becoming a parent. I didn’t want to hurt more than I already was.

Eventually the diagnosis of infertility was handed down. After a year or so of recovering from the blow, my husband and I decided we wanted to adopt. As I got to know others who dealt with infertility and adoption, I saw the wide spectrum of how everyone deals with emotional trauma. Some couples were super positive and loved preparing for a baby by painting nurseries, buying clothes, and purchasing cribs and car seats. Even though they knew being placed with a child could wind up being years down the road, or that a birth parent could change their mind, they did it anyway. I admired those people, but I couldn’t bring myself to do the same.

In 2010 a birth mother chose us to parent a baby girl. Kate was born in April, and after two weeks of being her mom, the adoption was reversed and I had to place her back into her mother’s arms. When I walked into my apartment without that little girl, I felt my heart break. I had allowed myself to purchase a few items for Kate during the two weeks I had her, and seeing them made it almost unbearable. I quickly gathered them up and gave them away. I couldn’t handle having those items in my house.

At this point, I made the decision that I would not allow myself to be hurt like that again. My husband and I would go through one more failed placement before we were placed with our son in December of 2010. Even after the birth father had signed his relinquishment papers and we had our tickets to fly to Texas to pick Harley up, I made no effort to prepare. No crib, car seat, clothes, wipes, or even diapers. Since Harley was 14 months old at the time of placement, his birth mother gave us his car seat, stroller, and other items that we shipped back home. It’s kind of funny, because I remember flying home from Texas to Utah with Harley and I was so unprepared that I didn’t even have a diaper in the diaper bag. I had one swim diaper, and Josh and I learned quickly that they don’t work that great when out of the water. My mom picked us up at the airport and I had to drive straight to the store to get diapers, wipes, and formula. Even then, I was terrified, but some things are necessary with a baby!

I was surrounded by the best friends and family and when bringing Harley home: My people had stocked my freezer with meals and bought toys, diapers, wipes, bottles, and everything else we would need as we started our new life with Harley.

I prepared by not preparing, and that’s okay.

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Kenna Shumway

Wife. Adoptive mom. Writer. Photographer. Endometriosis survivor, infertility warrior & adoption advocate. Rock star on weekends. Currently calls Ohio home with her pharmacist husband and their ginger son. Read more from her on her blog.


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