Before your baby comes home, there are a lot of changes that need to be made around your house to prepare. For some adoptive parents, after months of waiting, refining your adoption profile, getting selected by a birth mother and praying your home study was successful, you are happy to be counting down the days until your baby is born and can be placed with you forever.
But as an adoption consultant, I also see many cases of adoptive parents getting a call about a baby that was already born or is due imminently. So, it’s never too early for adoptive parents to start preparing their home. Here is my checklist of items that you should prepare so you and your baby are ready to step into your new life together.
Prepare the nursery
Everyone knows about this one! Get the nursery ready. For the fun decor, consider incorporating your baby’s adoption history. For instance, you can frame your paperwork or the profile from which the birth mother selected you. If you have a close enough relationship with the birth mother, you can add a photo of her.
Outside of the decor, you also need to have the essentials set up in the nursery to be ready for the baby. You will need a crib and, if you’d like, a rocking chair. You will also need a changing table with all the changing supplies, and you’ll need baby clothes, bibs and burp cloths washed and ready to be used.
Decide where the baby will sleep
Your baby may not be sleeping in the crib for the first few days or weeks. Parents often want their new baby closer for wake-ups in the middle of the night. You will have to decide if you want the baby to sleep in his own room or in your bedroom in a bassinet or a playpen. If you’ll be traveling for your adoption, you may need one plan for while you’re in a hotel and another plan for after you return home.
Purchase baby and household supplies
The baby will need a lot of items, and you will want to stock up on them so you are not constantly running to the store with a new baby. Consider having a stash of common baby items:
- Diaper rash cream
- Baby shampoo
- Baby lotion
- Baby Tylenol
- Laundry detergent for sensitive skin
- Coffee! (obviously for you, not the baby!)
Choose a pediatrician
You will want a pediatrician selected and ready to go when your baby is placed with you. As a new parent, you may have many worries that can be answered by someone at your pediatrician’s office — even if you call a few times a week! Ask your friends for recommendations for a great pediatrician and get an appointment set up to meet the doctor and explain your adoption background. It’s often best to select a pediatrician who is familiar with adoption and whose office is ‘adoption friendly.’ Don’t be shy about interviewing several offices and office staff members and asking them these questions directly.
Clean and baby-proof the house
Trust me, your house will never be the same kind of clean after your baby arrives. Try to keep it clean before baby comes, so you can focus entirely on your new baby instead of the dust on the end tables. Not only should you perform your routine cleaning, but think about shampooing your carpets, cleaning on and under the furniture and changing your furnace filter.
The house will also have to be baby-proofed. Make sure all low cabinets have safety latches and all hard corners have rubber grips to protect from head bumps. You will also want a baby gate for the top and bottom of all staircases.
Get a car seat and diaper bag
When you travel to the hospital to pick up your new bundle of joy, you will need to have a car seat ready to carry the baby out and take him or her home with you. You will also need to choose a diaper bag and have it packed with all the essentials, including:
- Burp cloths
- Extra clothes
- Changing mat
There is a lot to prepare for, but these essentials will help you start out your life as new parents on the right foot!
Bio: Nicole Witt is the owner of The Adoption Consultancy, an unbiased resource serving pre-adoptive families by providing them with the education, information and guidance they need to safely adopt a newborn, usually within three to 12 months. She is also the creator of Beyond Infertility, a community support site and online magazine geared towards families who have gone through infertility. You can visit that website at Beyond Infertility.