So you have been approved to adopt? That is such an exciting time. It’s probably taken you a year or so to get to this stage and you have been through so much. Group preparations where they have told you about trauma and loss. Social Worker visits where you have laid your soul bare and talked about every tiny part of your being. You’ve written out your finances, proved you have a support network, remembered your childhood. You’ve spent time thinking about what you can offer a child, how many you think you would like to adopt, thought long and hard about areas you think you might struggle with. And finally you have been approved! It’s a wonderful day and feels a little like an end – but in reality you know it’s just the beginning! So what should you do when you are preparing to adopt?
The temptation to go out and splurge can be overwhelming. If you were preparing for 9 months, and knowing that you were having a baby, you’d be getting the nursery ready. Picking colours, finding baby monitors, discussing in detail car seats etc. It would be so much fun! But when you are adopting, you have to do things a little differently! At this stage you probably have no idea who the children are. Their ages, what they will like, or what they will need, so some caution should be taken when preparing at this point!
Preparing To Adopt Do’s
- Do start having a think about the room that will be your child’s. Clear out any unnecessary furniture, or ensure that any movable furniture e.g drawers, are firmly attached to the wall.
- Get down to a child’s level around the house and see what hazards you can see. Buy safety equipment such as plug socket covers and latches for cupboards. We only installed door latches on cupboards which contained hazardous products (e.g cleaning products.)
- Start researching car seats and checking whether your car has isofix, and if you can fit more than one car seat in the back (if you are hoping to adopt a sibling group!)
- Invest in a baby monitor! Even if you are hoping to adopt older children, a baby monitor can never be a bad idea. We used our baby monitor for almost a year with our 3 and 5 year old. It meant peace of mind as we could hear whether they were awake, distressed, sleeping without having to peer into their rooms and risk waking them.
Preparing To Adopt Don’ts
- Rush out and buy toys! It’s a huge temptation, and so easy to think that just buying one or two things that would work for any child is a good idea. However, the likelihood is that your child will come with their own toys, and it can be very overwhelming to them to find new toys in their new house! Hold off as there will be plenty of time for new toys when they have moved in!
- Rush out and buy new furniture. Firstly, you have no idea yet about how old the child is, what stage they are at with sleeping and what they currently sleep in. Until you find that out, there is no point spending the money!
- Over decorate their room. It’s so tempting to think that you could decorate in neutral colours which would work for a boy or a girl. However if your child is an older child, they might have their own favourite colour. It’s much nicer to have the room painted in a way that makes it their’s from day one!
- Over plan what you will do with them. Before my children came home, I had such great ideas about all the things we would do. We talked so much about the routine we would follow, the places we would visit and the crafts we would do. In all honesty, pretty much nothing turned out like I expected – at all! It’s lovely to have ideas, but don’t be wedded to them!
Of course, once you have been approached by a social worker with a possible placement, then you can begin to notch things up a gear. You’ll find out from their foster carer the kinds of things they like, whether they need a buggy or a cot, and the toys they love to play with. Then you can begin to get a few things together, but until then, hold back just a little!
Have you recently adopted? Do you have any more tips for those preparing to adopt?