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Preparing to bring home your newly adopted child

Laura Willard is a law school grad who has successfully avoided using her education for eight years and counting. She's a wife and an adoptive mom to two kids. Motherhood is the best job she never knew she wanted so much until she had it...

Prepare your home and family

You’ve likely waited a long time for your new baby or child, plugging along through all of the paperwork, doing your best to pass the time both before your child’s referral and after it. Now that the time for you to meet your newest family member is almost here, make sure you’ve covered all of your bases by checking the following off of your list.

Family with adopted child

Katherine Ross-Keller was an almost-first time parent, waiting for travel approval to meet and bring home her new daughter. She didn't site idly at the end of the wait, though. She used the time to prepare for her daughter's arrival. It's a great way to keep you occupied during the final weeks/months and to make sure you're ready for your new little one.

Educate your friends and family

Katherine and her husband were fortunate to have so many friends and family members who supported them through their whole adoption process. As the day neared for the new parents to bring home their infant daughter, Tori, Katherine knew what she had to do. She wanted her friends and family to understand how important it was for her and her husband to form a bond with Tori and to show Tori that they were her permanent parents. At the same time, she did not want to hurt anyone or make them feel left out.

Most adoptive parents know that children who have been institutionalized for months or years generally do not rely on any one specific person as their primary caregiver. As such, your new child needs to understand that you are her mommy and one way to do this is by being the only one (along with your partner or spouse, if you have one) to meet your new child's needs – feeding, dressing, diapering, consoling, etc. For family and friends who have waited along with you, however, being left out can be hurtful if they do not understand why you insist on being the only one to care for your new child.

Consider writing a blog

Like many adoptive parents, Katherine didn't want to upset those who were so encouraging along the way, but she also didn't want to jeopardize the bonding process with her new daughter. Her solution? During the adoption process, she kept a blog about their journey to Tori. There, she also wrote about attachment parenting and bonding in general. She found it to be a non-confrontational way to educate everyone who would soon be a part of Tori's life. Shortly before she and her husband traveled, she used a letter from her agency's support group, tailored it to their specific situation, and sent it to their friends and family. "I explained how we needed to teach our daughter what parents were because she'd never had someone act in that role before. I explained how that would make our parenting style look different to them, especially at first," Katherine says. "It worked great. It didn't mean everyone agreed, but at least they understood."

A little preparation can go a long way, especially when it comes to your family and friends who feel like they are a part of this journey, too. Use this time to explain the how's and why's of what you plan to do and you'll probably find that you have an equal amount of support in this new part of the journey.

Get tips here on how to write a family blog.

Educate yourself, too!

You have likely been reading lots of adoption books, blogs, etc., but review what you've learned and make sure there is nothing you need to further understand or research. One of the more significant areas, in many adoptive parent's and expert's opinions, is attachment.

It is one thing to read about it, but a completely different thing to apply it once you are newly home with your child, exhausted and overwhelmed. Spend a little extra time reviewing the parenting style that you plan to use. Of course theory is one thing and real life is another, but having a plan of action will put you in a better position once you welcome home your new little one.

Next page: Baby proofing your home and finding the right pediatrician for your adopted child

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