When my wife and I got the call that a birth mother had picked us to be parents, five words almost knocked us for an even bigger loop. “Bring whatever outfits you’ve purchased,” our caseworker told us. My wife and I looked at each other. Outfits? The adoption agency had been very clear about not buying anything while waiting to be placed. After all, no one knows how long the wait will be.
So when we got the call, we had nothing. No outfits, no crib, no bassinet. No bottles, no wipes, no diapers, no toys. That’s a huge disadvantage people who plan to adopt have versus people who plan to “get pregnant.” There are no baby showers to load you up with necessities ahead of time, one of several major differences with taking in a child you didn't give birth to.
There is no nine-month countdown where you can mentally prepare yourself for your little one’s arrival. There are no classes that teach you how to, say, change a diaper or that infants sometimes cry for no reason so don’t freak out.
We had to get references from friends and family. We had to get fingerprinted. We had to have a background check to show that we're not criminals. A social worker came to our home five times. We had to send the agency copies of our son's pediatric records every time he went to the doctor. It was a tough road that felt endless when we were traveling it. Don’t get me wrong: Adopting a child should be tough. Navigating the slog of paperwork hopefully indicates your commitment, hopefully shows this isn't just a whim that you will grow weary of the first time your little one spits up on your leather coat.
Bring whatever outfits you’ve purchased, our caseworker said. After hanging up, my wife and I zipped off to the department stores. We loaded up on as much as we could. By the time night fell, we had enough clothes and diapers and bottles to get us started. We had a place for our son to sleep. We had toys and books. The next day, we rented a car and drove to meet him. And you know, holding him, I was scared to death, but confident at the same time, certain I had everything I needed right there in my arms.
What was the toughest part of your journey to having a child?
Image via Angela Johnson Meadows