Monday, November 26, 2012

Ten Things to Do While You Wait

International older child adoption involves lots of waiting. Here are ten things to do while you wait to bring home your new child.

1. Read the Connected Child. If you don't do anything else, read The Connected Child, by Karyn Purvis. To parent your internationally adopted older child, you need to learn to think differently about his behavior and your responses. Dr. Purvis shows you how.

2. Follow a few adoption blogs. Unlike books, which are often written by experts, adoption blogs give you updates from real parents in real time

3. Join an online support community. My favorite group these days is Trust Based Parenting, a Facebook group for parents of kids from the hard places. When you join, write a quick post to introduce yourself. This is a place where you can ask questions of experienced adoptive parents and get timely answers. 

4. Make a detailed resource list. Go ahead and make a list (including contact numbers) of all the professionals you might need to access once you bring your child home. Include your pediatrician, medical specialists (if your child has a special need), a dentist, and a counselor with experience working with adoptive families. 

Think about education. Include local schools both public and private that your child might attend. What resources could they offer your family?

Include the names and phone numbers of all the adoptive families you know locally. Are there any ethnic food stores that sell food from your child's home country in your area? Are there families who are ethnically similar to your child? Put them on the list.

5. Master some phrases in your child's language. Find a native speaker of your child's language and have them help you master a few simple phrases. This will provide comfort for your child in your first days together. . . or maybe just some comic relief. 

6. Invest in your marriage. Even though all your extra money is going to the adoption, please still take the time to go on dates together. Don't let every moment together become a business meeting about what needs to be done next in the adoption process. Breathe. Laugh. Have fun.

7. Paint your house. OK, you don't really have to paint your house, but if you're stuck waiting, and don't know what to do, now would be a good time to complete any home improvements you've been meaning to tackle. Put another way, once you get home, you're going to have your hands full parenting your new child. You're going to need to create structure and consistency in your family. The week after you return home won't be a great time to install a new kitchen. We remodeled our master bath, painted and put down new flooring in our main living areas, installed a new water heater,and repaired some termite damage while we waited to travel to China. And we haven't done a big home improvement project in the two years since.

8. Have a “baby” shower. Yes, a celebration is appropriate for your new adopted child, no matter how old he is when he joins your family. Often, friends want to throw a party for you but aren't quite sure how to do it. They may suggest waiting until your child comes home so that the child can enjoy the party too.  Personally, I don't think that's a good idea.

The child you're bringing home will most likely be overwhelmed by large gatherings at first -- especially large gatherings where he is the star of the show. Your child will be facing huge adjustments. This is not the time to put him on display.

Instead, once you have official permission to adopt your child, let your friends and family throw a baby shower for you. Make sure to display a photo of your new child at the shower. Perhaps you could also take time to share your adoption story and some of the challenges you'll be facing when your child comes home. 

People want to give gifts but may be unsure what is appropriate. Help them out. Gift cards are great. Let them know your favorite stores and restaurants. How about building your library by adding books about your child's country and culture along with a few good adoption resources? One of the best gifts I received was a rice cooker and a giant (20 lbs or more?) bag of rice. The bag of rice is long gone, but I still use the rice cooker multiple times each week. 

9. Get Grandma on board. One of the biggest challenges of older child adoption is helping your extended family understand the unique challenges you face and the somewhat unconventional decisions you may be called on to make in response to those challenges. Most people will naturally assume your child is "grateful" to have a family, and that your love will wipe away the past. If only it were that easy. 

Start by making a copy of your favorite chapter in The Connected Child and sharing it with Grandma. Simply say, "We're learning a lot about the challenges of parenting older adopted kids, and I wanted to share this with you because you are going to be an important person in our child's life." If at all possible, it's important to get Grandma on board with your parenting philosophy. She can help everyone else understand if you need to skip out on the big family Thanksgiving celebration next year.

10. Take a vacation. Get away for a family vacation. Or a girls weekend with friends. Or an overnight date with your husband. You've worked hard on all the adoption stuff. Relax and have some fun before the real work begins. 

Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list. If you've adopted an older child internationally, what would you add?

Reminder:  It's Cyber Monday. If you're shopping online today, don't forget to go through Ebates for cash back.

Shared at the Tuesday Baby Link-Up.


  1. Wonderful ideas - thanks so much. Even tho' I have been through this before, it's a great reminder that life really slows down and can be a bit overwhelming once you finally get home with your new child. We are going through the waiting for another adoption - time to get the house cleaned out, go on some fun dates, maybe a mini-vacation with the kids, and get those house projects completed before we travel to China and bring our little girl home! Thanks!

  2. I would also add to watch any of the resources on Empowered to Connect and the Karyn Purvis DVDs. We took notes as we watched, and it's helpful to go back through them now as we try to apply the principles. Also, if you're adopting internationally, learn how to cook some dishes that will be familiar to your children. We stocked our freezer with Ethiopian food before we left, and I was so grateful to have that ready when we came home and were too tired to cook.

  3. This is a wonderful list of ideas. I imagine an adopted child would so appreciate hearing familiar words and eating familiar food when everything else around them is brand new! Thanks for linking up with the Tuesday Baby Link Up! I hope we'll see you again tomorrow!