Bringing home your adopted baby: How to deal with the first few weeks
Find out how to care for your newly-adopted baby — and how to cope with the first few months as new parents to your adopted child.
Adoption is usually a long, grueling and tedious process full of ‘hurry up and waits.’ So when the day finally comes and you are holding your adopted baby in your arms, it is only natural to want everything else to be ‘smooth sailing’ — well, everything but the sleepless nights, possible colic, diaper rash and other matters baby-related.
Welcoming a newly adopted baby into your family brings with it a certain amount of curiosity from ‘outsiders,’ as well as a bit of uncertainty on your part. You may also find yourself asking questions like these:
- How should I react to the somewhat tactless questions from others?
- Should I send out birth announcements?
- What about a baby shower?
- What about the stares and awkward glances I may get? How do I deal with them?
Only the best for your little one
First of all, a baby does not ask to be born. So when they are, they deserve the best that the world has to give.
Now if that best cannot or will not come from their birth parents, then who in the world has a right to say that someone like you shouldn’t be given the honor of giving a child the love and everything else that goes with being a family?
No one, that’s who! So when you first introduce him into your family, you and your adopted baby deserve all the normal fussing that people make over a biological birth.
A list of do’s when you bring home your adopted baby
- Do send out birth announcements. Chances are you waited a long time and have been through quite a bit to be able to say you are a mummy and daddy. It makes sense then that you want to share your excitement and joy with family and friends.
Tip: When preparing your adopted baby’s birth announcement, you can use the usual birth stats, but if you want to exchange his/her birth date for the date he/she came home to you, that’s fine too. Photo birth announcements of your new family member or group shots of the entire ‘clan’ are a delight as well.
- Do have a baby shower — you’re totally entitled to one! Why wouldn’t you be? You are the mother of a new baby, aren’t you? An adopted baby is still a baby — and a perfectly good reason to celebrate!
Tip: Family and friends may be uncertain as to the proper etiquette in the case of bringing home and adopted baby, i.e. the etiquette that says you deserve and need a baby shower. So if no one speaks up about it, break the ice by saying something like: “I think I will register at ______ and ______. Do you have any suggestions about strollers?” Or”Now that the baby is here, I have a list of possible dates for his/her shower.”
People ask all sorts of strange and even rude questions when there is a new baby on the scene — adopted or otherwise. The following is a list of the most common ones you might run into when you finally bring home your adopted baby, plus some great ways to answer them politely:
Q. Who does he/she look like?
A. He/she looks exactly like the baby we’ve been waiting for all this time.
Q. Aren’t you worried he/she has some sort of defect or disease ‘they’ didn’t tell you about?
A. We weren’t shopping for a new car. You cannot get the guaranteed of a perfectly healthy baby. We love _______ because he/she is our child and that’s all that matters.
Q. Are you ever going to tell him/her he/she is adopted?
A. Well, I don’t think it is going to take them long to figure out we don’t look much alike (this applies especially in the case of international adoption).
Q. What did your family say?
A. What every loving family member says… “Hand over the baby so I can cuddle him/her!”
Q. What are you going to do when people start asking questions?
A. You mean like now?
Q. Are you worried they will grow up and hate you for taking them out of their country?
A. Our country is their country. They will simply have the privilege of being a part of two cultures.
Q. Are you worried you might have to give him/her back to the birth mother?
A. Adopting is a long and difficult process. We know it happens, but we would rather dwell on the joy of becoming parents.
Q. What are you going to do if he/she ever wants to find his/her real mom?
A. I am his/her real mom. I am the one loving, caring for and raising him/her. But when and if the day comes when he/she wants to try to locate the woman who gave birth to him/her, I will do what I can to help him/her.
While intrusive and tactless, many of these questions do address the realities of adoption.
For instance, parents of adopted babies face the possibilities of health issues. This happens especially if they know very little or nothing about the birth mother.
Hopefully you were able to find your adopted baby through an organization which discloses as much information as possible when placing babies with parents. Still, a thorough physical assessment and regular checkups to monitor the development of your adopted baby are advisable.
It’s also important to remember that babies who are adopted internationally or through the government’s foster care system will likely have spent time in an institutional setting or in a series of homes. This can make it somewhat difficult for you and your baby to bond.
The key here then is patience, persistence and privacy. Stick close to home those first few weeks — being a bit ‘stingy’ with your new baby will help the 3 of you (mum, dad and baby) bond more quickly than if you are out and about passing him/her around for everyone to admire.
It’s also best to ignore those who say holding a baby too much spoils them. Yes, it might make them a bit more ‘needy’ in some regards, but again you didn’t just wake up one morning and decide to have an adopted baby.
You’ve worked long and hard for this… so love your baby and enjoy each and every moment of this time of being a new mum, because it really will be over before you know it.
Also read: Want to Adopt a Child?