How to Prepare for Adopting a Child

posted on April 7, 2014 at 2:41 am

There is no better gift to give a child than your heart and your home. Once you know with great certainty that this is the best time to welcome a child into your family through adoption, experts recommend the following to help you prepare for your child.

Do Your Homework

All adoptions involve some level of “red tape”. Regardless of the type of adoption you pursue, be prepared for a fair amount of paperwork and contact with the government. There are many decisions to be made including what type of adoption, the best process to follow, potential monetary costs, whether or not to work with an agency, and more. The best advice is to do what is necessary, and trying not to focus on the time and difficulty of the process. Instead remember that there is nothing more important than this child finding the permanent adoptive family they need.


To help you get started there are many resources to reach out to including pre-adoption consultants, adoption attorneys, or clergy. If you want to do some initial research on your own, here are a couple of recommendations for getting started based on selections by the editors of Adoptive Families magazine.

The Adoption Option Complete Handbook, by Christine Adamec

The Adoption Resource Book, by Lois Gilman


Wait Out the Waiting Game

Many parents who have adopted children admit that nothing describes the adoption process better than “hurry up and wait.” For months you did everything you were supposed to do to get prepared and now you have to simply sit back and wait. Although the waiting game can be nerve-racking and painful, experts at recommend trying to fill the time doing things that are both fun and productive:

  • Update your health insurance
  • Make out a will
  • Find out about your company’s “adoption leave” policy
  • Locate a pediatrician
  • Explore child care
  • Take a new-parent CPR class

Honor Your Child’s Roots 

Since most adoptive children will not be able to do a true biological family tree, one idea to help honor their roots is to help your child create an Ancestral Family Tree. It will help them better understand where they came from, their history, culture, and family of origin, while also honoring the extended adoptive family. See how one mom did it after reading an article in Adoptive Families magazine.


Keep the Nursery Simple

Ease the transition by preparing a nursery that is quite simple. Most internationally adoptioned babies and children have been sleeping in rooms with multiple children, so it will be difficult enough for the child to come into their own room and immediately feel comfortable. Experts recommend that you resist the urge to elaborately decorate and instead keep the room as simple as possible to avoid any overstimulation that they are not used to. This “keep it simple” concept applies to older children’s rooms as well.

Involve Your Other Children

Incorporating a “including your family in building your family” philosophy will help everyone involved get through this process and will encourage bonding throughout. Some recommendations from the experts at WebMD on ways to involve your older children include:

  • Read books about adoption together
  • Let them pick out a special gift for their new sibling
  • Show them pictures of the country you’re adopting from and help them find it on a map or globe, if adopting internationally
  • Ask your children to help you choose photos to include and family stories to tell in packages to prospective birth mothers

Set Up a Support System

Make sure to get family and friends onboard to help out both before and after your child arrives. You need to have supportive people around you while you go through the process as it tends to be a long and emotional one. Your support system should also include other adoptive families. They can give you empathetic, we’ve-been-there advice.


Don’t Overthink Things

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the difficulties of the adoption process. Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute says “There are lots of complex kinds of families. What is it like when there are stepsiblings, or half-siblings? What is it like when you live with a grandmother who takes care of the family? That doesn’t mean you don’t think it through, but I don’t think we should be making it a bigger deal than it is, either….It’s just another way of making a family, and that’s the way you should present it to your kids and to the world around you.”


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