As I prepare for my youngest baby to go to kindergarten next week, I’ve been reflecting on how we got here. The short history: God made us a family of five through adoption three times. Each time, bringing home those babies was a highlight of my life.
Now those three babies are 14, 11, and 5. For the first time in my mothering life, all three kids will be in full-time school. But, first, I wanted to share some ways you can prepare yourself for the arrival of your newly adopted child.
Some of these practical things you’ll want to do are just like you’d do for a biological newborn, but other things are adoption-specific. Of course, as you begin an adoption process you’ll work with an agency and attorney who will also help you prepare.
(Want more adoption resources? I’ve got some for you!)
Update your health insurance
In Kentucky, you can add the baby to your health insurance as soon as you have guardianship, even before the adoption is finalized. Even before that, you can give your insurance company a head’s up so they know you’re in the process of growing your family. In some states, you have to purchase a separate insurance policy. The good news is most companies will allow the addition of an adopted child to your existing plan as long as it does not lapse in coverage before adding them.
Please, consider updating your health insurance as soon as possible to include the new members and ultimately improve the value of your family. Once the adoption is finalized, that child is exactly like a biological child on paper, but you may have to amend the original policy once the court recognizes the adoption.
Locate a pediatrician
We are thankful our pediatrician actually has adopted children of his own! Locating a pediatrician can be very important as they will be the medical provider your child sees regularly. You also want to find someone willing and able to work with you if there are any special considerations for your baby’s care, such as therapies like physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy.
If you are adopting from out of the country, some additional considerations may affect your decision on who to use for pediatrician care. Larger cities have multi-specialty clinics that regularly work with adoptive families.
Prepare your house
As part of the adoption process, you’ll work with social workers who make sure your home is ready for a baby — or whatever age child you’re bringing home! As any parent, you’ll need items such as an infant seat, crib, blankets, clothes, diapers, and wipes. Be sure to check out a crib mattress size guide visual to buy a fitting mattress for your baby’s comfort and safety.
Of course, sharp knives and medicines should be safely secured well out of a child’s reach. As a baby grows and starts crawling and walking, you’ll need to babyproof the house even more.
Name for your child
Naming your baby is such an exciting and essential task. This was one of my favorite parts of preparing to bring babies home.
We liked to use family members’ names as inspiration when naming our babies. Catherine Anna is named after my mom and Greg’s grandma; Benjamin Lucas shares my grandpa’s middle name; and Rachel Elizabeth has a middle name that has belonged to both my sister and Greg’s great-grandma.
Spend time around babies
Before becoming a mom, I hadn’t spent much time around babies. When you’re preparing for the arrival of your adopted child, it’s important to have some understanding of what babies are like in general, even before learning about your baby’s personality and temperament.
Observe how babies and kids play, interact with others and react to different environments or situations. By spending time among children in these early stages, you may gain an even greater appreciation for why you made this decision.
Another way to familiarize yourself with children is to be aware of best first aid practices and consider being trained in CPR.
Like any new season of life, bringing babies home could have some surprises, but preparing for your family to grow will help the beautiful, life-changing transition.
I share much more about our specific adoption processes in my book, “Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family.” I have other adoption resources on my website too.