Friday, January 15, 2010

A Paper Pregnancy: Preparing for Adoption

A Paper Pregnancy: Preparing for Adoption
Or… Birthing From The Heart

Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting” This is the first of Attachment Parenting International’s (API’s) eight principles, which guide parents toward nurturing connections with their children to encourage healthy development. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? But for people choosing to build their family through adoption, this first principle of attachment parenting can hurt. I have heard many adoptive parents comment that they will refuse to pick up a parenting book if it seems to over-emphasize (or thoroughly address) pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding. (But adoptive mamas – you can breastfeed! Click here or check with your local La Leche League, lactation consultant, or breastfeeing-knowledgeable physician for more info!)

Particularly when people are adopting due to infertility, reminders of what have been missed or lost can be so painful that it is just easier to choose another parenting book or website. But please know that API has a great wealth of information and sage advice to encourage and nurture all parents, no matter how they came to be. Visit API’s website or read Attached at the Heart – you will be so glad you did. But for the prospective adoptive families out there, I offer this alternative First Principle:

Prepare for Your Paper Pregnancy, Adoption Journey,
and Your Future Infant/Child

1.) Begin by taking excellent care of yourself. This experience can be the most challenging and rewarding of your life, most likely resulting in you – yes you! – becoming someone’s forever mommy or daddy. Your adoption journey, paper pregnancy, and subsequent parenthood will be forever and irrevocably life changing. You had better be ready for this marathon! Many of the challenges you will face during this journey will be emotional. Prepare your mind to cope with your emotions. Your emotions may run high, they may run low, but run they will. You have, no doubt, heard what a roller coaster ride this experience will be, so you’d better strap on your safety gear.

  • Seek Support: You will need people who know what you are going through. If you haven’t already, find them now. They will be your cheerleaders, your mentors, your nurturers. Link up with a local support group for adoptive and prospective-adoptive families. If adopting through an agency, request information about local groups. Find an adoptive group on the web. Not only is this a challenging experience, but not everyone understands or supports what you are going through. You will need people who do.
  • Have a Plan for Powerful Emotions: This is not the time to eat your feelings, shut down, or freak out. Have a plan for how you will cope with the very prominent feelings that emerge while going through the adoption process. Journal, do creative arts, talk, read, get massages - whatever you need to keep focused and clear. Consult with a professional if your emotions are interfering with your life in a significant way.
  • Manage Your Health: Sometime soon – very soon – you will be responsible for the health and well-being of a little person. In order to do that successfully, you must take good care of yourself first. Eat well, get plenty of rest, take your vitamins, drink lots of water, exercise. Does that sound like advice for an expectant parent? Good, because that expectant parent is you.
2.) Educate Yourself Thoroughly: You need to learn all about your paper pregnancy. Research the adoption laws in your state – utilize a lawyer if needed. Review the people and agencies you may want to work with. Much of the process is completely out of your control, but information is powerful. And, yes, frightening as it may be, learn as much as you can about the infant or child who will become part of your forever family. In most cases, you will have little to no information about your future child. The good news is, neither do expectant biological parents. Take the time to learn about the ages and stages of development for a baby or child within your age-range preferences. Know what to expect, what is typical development, and how to help, soothe, comfort, and care for your future child.

3.) Get Your Home In Order: Chaos breeds chaos; Take the time now to clear clutter, clean deeply, and organize thoroughly. You may not have the time or energy to do this for a few years after your little one arrives, so take the time now. Develop a system for keeping your home and affairs in ship-shape. There are many organizational experts out there – pick a method that suits you.

4.) If You Are A Spiritual Person, Get On Your Knees: Some people have deeply spiritual beliefs, and the adoption experience can either be a test of, or testament to, faith. Your spirituality, if you have it, can help you through this challenging and rewarding time.

5.) Prepare For Parenthood: I have mentioned it before, but it is so important I will mention it again. Know what to expect for the age range of your future baby or child. Know where to find help if you need it. Find a pediatrician who will meet your child’s medical needs. Be realistic and flexible with your expectations for the first days/weeks/months with your child.

Birthing From The Heart: Your future child may not be springing from your loins, but your child will be yours. Just like pregnancy and childbirth take special preparation and education, so does the adoption journey. Take care of yourself, be supported, educated, and organized. A little person somewhere, born or unborn, is depending on you.

This post is part of the 2010 API Principles of Parenting blog carnival, a series of monthly parenting blog carnivals, hosted by API Speaks. Learn more about attachment parenting by visiting the API website.


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  2. Excellent article! Those entering the adoption process need to be well-prepared! Well-done!