Sometimes introductions need an introduction. Adoption is a journey, so an intro can only scratch the surface. Like any expedition into unknown territory, preparation can make the difference between a smooth trip and one fraught with disappointments and difficulties.

Whether your adoption journey begins with infertility, a life-long dream of building a family through adoption, or the desire to add one or more siblings to your bio-built mix, the passage from the dawning of the idea to completion of the process offers various routes.

Some routes may take you down paths that are less than comfortable. You may be forced to look at aspects of yourself you haven’t wanted to acknowledge. While the process may not be pretty, avoiding these parts of the trip could deprive your experience of depth and detail that would come in handy later.

The Ideal Traveling Companions

Truth and honesty are good traveling companions. Being introduced to both at the beginning of the journey will go far to explain the bumps and ruts ahead.

Here’s a truth you need to meet right at the start:

Adoption is as much about loss as it is about gain.

Understanding that sadness overlaps joy will start you out on the right foot in your adoption journey.

The path can be long and arduous. You will be asked to open your eyes, your heart, your home, your history, and your wallet along the way. Before you’re even halfway to your destination, you will have examined yourself and your relationships thoroughly.

It can be difficult. The wait can be torture. Some days may find you too tired to think. You will worry—perhaps even obsess—over things, and you’ll lose sleep.

At the end of it all, you’ll be parents. There are no words to convey the joy that grabs you by the heart the first time you hold your child. Comprehending the invasion of corpuscles that takes place, filling every inch of your body. You are instantly transformed from you into a mother or father.

Adoption Language

Before heading off down the trail, however, here are a few words about words.

Adoption language is tricky, as you’ll learn soon enough, but you at least need to start off knowing who you are.

At the beginning of the beginning, you are hopeful adoptive parents, or prospective adoptive parents.

Your journey will connect you with potential birth parentsexpectant parents, or parents making an adoption plan.

And, eventually, there will be a baby.

This core group, essential to every adoption, is commonly known as a “triad.”

Off You Go

With a little background and foresight on the trail ahead, you’re ready to venture a little further on your adoption journey. This was just a sampling introduction, so take it one step at a time, and never be afraid to ask questions.