At this point, the goal is to be cautiously optimistic. You hope that the match or referral will result in the child or children being placed with you, but it’s not quite a done deal.
Some people will set up a room for the child. Indeed, if you’re adopting from foster care, you may have been required to set up the room as part of the home study. However, it seems that a significant number of people adopting infants privately choose not to set up a nursery. They fear “jinxing” the placement, or simply worry that it will be too sad to see an empty room day after day, especially if the match falls through. I’m a big believer in having everything ready. One of the reasons our son’s birth mother chose us was that we had a room all ready with toys in it. It definitely pays to have the necessities—a car seat or booster seat, a few outfits, and a place for the child to sleep.
Perhaps some friends or family members will throw a shower for you, but if you’d prefer not to have one, that’s okay, too. If you’re adopting an older child, a shower before he or she comes home would likely be better than a big party afterwards. The child may be overwhelmed, and is also likely to have mixed feelings about being adopted. If you do want a baby shower, don’t be shy about mentioning it to your close friends or family members. People don’t always think that prospective adoptive parents want a shower.
If you are pursuing a private domestic infant adoption, I recommend spending this time getting to know the expectant parents, if they are open to doing so. Ideally, these people are going to become your family too, so it’s good for you all to know as much about each other as possible.
Read books about infant care. My personal favorites are, “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child,” by Dr. Marc Weissbluth; “What to Expect the First Year,” by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel; and “What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Children’s Vaccinations,” by Dr. Stephanie Cave. Oh, and if you haven’t already, read “The Open Hearted Way to Open Adoption” by Lori Holden. I truly cannot recommend this book enough.
If you are pursuing international adoption, continue your education about the child’s birth culture. Learn basic words in the child’s language, if you haven’t done so already. If your agency offers classes in parenting or adoption-related issues, take them. Many adoptive parents later wish they had spent more time learning before their kids came home.
If you are pursuing adoption from foster care, your time between being matched and the child coming home may be extremely short. However, if you’re adopting from another state, it could take weeks or months for your child to come home. If possible, get to know the child you hope to adopt. Several parents adopting through foster care establish and maintain relationships with their children’s former foster families. Definitely learn everything you can about the chid’s routine, likes, and dislikes.
If you are going to travel to meet your child, research hotels in your destination city. Instead of using the hotel’s web site, call the hotel directly. I talked to the manager of a particular hotel for half an hour, explaining that we weren’t quite sure when we’d be there. She was able to get us a flexible registration in the height of college football season. She also gave us a 2-bedroom suite for the price of a 1-bedroom suite. If you may have to travel at a moment’s notice, try calling the airlines and talking to a person to explain your situation. We were able to get a major airline to waive its change fee for our travel to and from the state where our daughter was born.
No matter which type of adoption you’re pursuing, if this will be your first child, use this time to do a few things you will not get to do again for awhile:
- Go out to the movies.
- Have uninterrupted conversations with your partner.
If you already have children in your home, spend some one-on-one time with them. Do something fun as a family that may not be possible with a new baby or child in the home.
Take some time to be excited. Don’t think too much about all the bad things that might happen. As I said, be cautiously optimistic. Hopefully, your child will be home soon!