The Weight of the Wait


rylan paint

The old proverb is right.  Time moves slowly for those who wait.  For prospective adoptive parents, the period between home study approval and welcoming a child home – can become excruciating.

There is no way to rush this waiting period, which proceeds at its own pace. Fortunately there is much you can do during your time as a prospective adoptive parent – to keep your mind off the calendar. You have more time now to accomplish things that need to be done, and your future life as a parent will be easier if you do them now.

Take positive, constructive action weekly ~ or even daily. These actions will help you keep your perspective, your sense of humor and your sense of balance.  We’ve compiled a lengthy list of action items for your waiting period.

{Relax.  These not all need to be done – but if it makes you feel better in the interim, accomplish them as needed to alleviate the “weight” of the “wait”}.

  1. Research employer family leave plans. Talk to your employer and start planning for time away from the office when you are placed.
  2. Research and consider options for your new will, life insurance and make your guardianship plan legal.
  3. Kick any unhealthy habits that may be a detriment to your future child (i.e. quit smoking, loose excess weight, etc.)
  4. If adopting a newborn, learn the nuts and bolts of baby care.
  5. Consider taking a college course on Childhood Development.
  6. Attend an adoptive parent support group.
  7. Prepare a First Aid Kit with child specific tools (contact the Red Cross or your pediatrician).
  8. Research furniture for the child’s room, making selections (but not purchasing unless a match has occurred which can be considered solid) for the age range you are open to.
  9. Request forms for adding a child to your health insurance plan.
  10. Research car seats and strollers.
  11. Practice installing your car seat and get it checked by a car seat specialist (call your local police and fire department for assistance)
  12. Research and discuss discipline styles/techniques and alternative parenting techniques you may like to try (sign language, baby massage, breastfeeding, etc.)
  13. Research and interview childcare providers.  See if you can be added to a wait list for accessing services.
  14. Research and consider if you’d like to mail out an adoption announcement.  If you do, address your envelopes now to save you the hassle later.
  15. Begin your child’s lifebook – your experiences as you start your adoption journey and anticipate the child’s arrival is an important part of the story.
  16. Begin talking about adoption with family and friends, so that they know how you feel about certain topics (open adoption, sharing the child’s story, attachment parenting, etc.)
  17. Take full advantage of your free time.  This will diminish when you become a parent.
  18. Research childhood nutrition and if there will be any special considerations to be made for the child you wish to adopt.  (i.e. smoothie diet for child with cleft palate; nutrition rich foods for internationally adopted child; healthy snack availability for child who may hoard food, etc.)
  19. If adopting internationally, learn about your child’s birth culture.
  20. If adopting internationally, begin practicing recipes associated with your child’s culture.  Visit restaurants with culturally specific foods and try them out.
  21. Start noticing the “children’s menu” at your favorite restaurants.  Make note of places that have really great menus.
  22. If married, set up a weekly “date” and keep it.  Nurture your relationship now. Start addressing #23.
  23. Start having conversations about how you plan to parent.  Discuss religious education preferences and child-rearing practices.
  24. Start considering names for your child.
  25. Spend time around children.  “Borrow” friends and relative children for fun outings so you can learn through hands-on experience.
  26. Start shopping for child necessities.  Don’t go overboard, but spreading out the financial burden of toothpaste, child shampoo, hairbrushes, eating utensils, sippy cups, etc. can be planned more carefully now – rather than at the last minute.
  27. Keep busy with productive and enjoyable activities that nurture yourself:  Revisit and old hobby, start a self-care/exercise routine, etc.
  28. Get in shape.  You will soon be running, carrying and bending more than you ever have.
  29. Read everything you can about topics you are concerned about.  Visit adoption forums online, Read Parenting Books and blogs.
  30. Begin Childproofing your home beyond what the agency requires you to do in preparation.  Take a close look at your surroundings from the “eye of a child” (taking into consideration the age range you are open to).  There may be sharp corners, unshielded electrical outlets, unlocked cabinets filled with household cleaners and other hazards that will need to be removed before the child comes home.
  31. Finish projects around the house.  Now is a great time to finish anything that was started and left hanging.
  32. Register for baby/child necessities at a store so that well-wishers have a guide to best fit your needs when you receive placement.
  33. Pray if you’re so inclined.  And Pray some more.
  34. Prepare your pets for the child’s arrival by making changes to their routine (more time outside or in a crate) well in advance.  Familiarize them with children when on walks and at parks.  Work on their bad habits (jumping, nibbling, stealing food, etc.).
  35. If you are adopting internationally, begin planning for any necessary immunizations that will be required for your adoption trip.
  36. Line up your support team, especially if you are a single parent.  Ask close friends and family who might take over every once in awhile to allow you a chance to sleep, run errands, etc.
  37. Write your own parents a thank-you letter.  Tell them how excited you are to follow in their footsteps and how much you appreciated their parenting efforts.
  38. Research early intervention and preschool programs that you might access; specifically considering any special needs you are open to.
  39. Buy a camera and learn how to take really good photos.  Photographic memories are priceless.  Take a class if you are interested.
  40. If adopting internationally, try and learn as much of your child’s birth language as possible.
  41. Get your own appointments out of the way.  Schedule dental, optometrist, veterinary, etc. visits if you are able; so that you can concentrate on the child’s needs when they arrive.
  42. Start your library of children’s books.  You can peruse the titles and thoughtfully research the messages within them at your leisure now.
  43. Research community and resource class opportunities (check your local library for story times, Parents Day Out, Mommy & Me, MOPS groups, etc.)
  44. Cook and freeze meals for your first weeks as a parent.  Consider asking a friend to set up a meal delivery sign-up through for close family and friends to help out.
  45. Consider gift options for your child’s birth family, big brother/sister (if applicable), orphanage caretakers, etc.
  46. Put your finances in order.  Work on your “emergency” fund if you don’t have one.
  47. Consider joining or starting a “Waiting Families Group.”  Getting together with people on similar journey’s can be very rewarding.  No one understands what you’re going through better than someone who is also living it!
  48. Declutter, clean and organize your home.
  49. Start planning for college.  Research and consider all your options including a Upromise Savings Plan, a prepaid college fund or a 529 Savings Plan.
  50. Make sure your passport is up to date if adopting internationally.
  51. Make a packing list of what you need to take with you in the event you get a last minute “call,” or even if you have ample time to plan your travel to pick up your child.
  52. Plan a last “kid-free” vacation.
  53. Compose a letter to your child.  Help siblings write a letter.  Ask grandparents to write a letter.  Add these precious mementos to the child’s future lifebook.
  54. Consider fundraising opportunities, which can help you realize your adoption goal.  Some parents fund their entire adoption via fundraising.
  55. Read everything you can on nurturing attachment with an adopted child.
  56. Connect with friends.  Feel free to ask parents you admire – questions about parenting.
  57. Read up on “adoption friendly” terminology and begin deciding what language you will use in describing your own family.
  58. Sit in the child’s room and ponder what the child will find scary within it.
  59. See all the adult movies you care to watch.  Once a child joins your family, you’ll likely spend your movie budget on more child-friendly options.
  60. Sleep in.  As much as possible.  Because soon, it may not be an option.
  61. Buy all the birthday, anniversary, graduation, etc. cards/gifts you’ll need for the year.  If possible, address and add sentiments to the cards, so they’ll be ready to hit the mail when needed.
  62. Remind yourself of the best lullabies, nursery rhymes and children’s games  from when you were a child.
  63. Begin watching garage sales and craigslist for great deals on toys.  Begin preparing a small selection of commonly loved toys.  A household with kids can never have enough games, puzzles, legos, art supplies, etc.
  64. Pick out the perfect “cuddly” for your child.  Many kids have a blanket or special friend that tags along with them throughout their childhood.  Choose something that is super soft and that can withstand many, many washings.  If you’re sure it’ll be “the one” consider purchasing more than one so that you always have a spare to rely on if it gets lost, dirty, etc.
  65. Start spreading the news and ask for prayers and good wishes.


What would you add to this list?

3 thoughts on “The Weight of the Wait

  1. I love your list of very practical things one can do while waiting! Great job! Here’s my 7 more generalized tips for surviving the wait–


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