Tuesday, January 2, 2018

18 Things to Know If You're Adopting in 2018

Can you believe it's 2018?   The holiday season was a whirlwind of food, family fun, gifts, traveling, decorating, and if we're honest, pure exhaustion.   And if adoption was on your radar before the holidays, your urgency to adopt is probably more intense after spending so much time with family (perhaps answering the question, "When are you going to have kids?"---yikes!).   To help you prepare for the journey ahead, here are 18 things you MUST know about if you're adopting this year: 

1:  Adoptive breastfeeding.

Yes, it's possible.  Yes, it's controversial.  Yes, I am a fan.  Read more about it from expert Alyssa Schnell, and read my experience here and here.   Know there are plenty of ways to form a secure attachment with a child you adopt, with nursing being one of them. 

2:  Employer financial help.

Some employers offer financial assistance to those who choose to adopt.  (Yes, it's true!)  Maybe you or your partner's companies are among those?   Be sure to talk to your HR rep.    Usually the company offers this reimbursement for expenses (you must submit documentation) after the adoption has been finalized.   The Dave Thomas Foundation offers the 2017 "best" adoption-friendly companies list here.

3:  Adoption leave.

Some employers offer adoption leave!  My husband had four weeks of paid leave off with our first and fourth children---and it was an awesome blessing.  Companies recognize that adopting a baby matters too.  Again, check with your HR rep, and check out the list.  

4:  Open adoption.

We have four open adoptions, and I've written extensively about our experiences as well as shared some great resources with you.  Here I answer your burning questions.  I want you to know that it's OK to be scared:  but it's not OK to make decisions out of ignorance.  Get educated!  Weigh the pros and cons, and then move forward in confidence. 

5:  Representation matters.

If you adopt transracially, be prepared to fill your home with books, toys, games, art, music, and films that offer diversity.   Your child wants to see himself or herself represented!  For example, here are my favorite children's picture books featuring Black girls.   Follow me on IG where I post my newest finds. 

6:  Legal stuff.

If you're going to choose adopt, hire a "quad A" attorney to help you get through the process.  Legal stuff is nothing to mess around with or short-cut when it comes to having an ethical adoption. 

7:  Mentorship.

If you adopt, I highly recommend finding a mentor for your child.  It isn't as difficult as you might think.

8:  Saying goodbye to adoption.

Have you already adopted or tired of waiting to adopt, yet you're considering whether or not to "close the book" on adopting ?   BEEN THERE. 

9:  Profile books.

There are so many fantastic services that help you create your profile book.  Some even review the profile book you created yourself.    Consider this as an option as you budget for your adoption journey. 

10:  Faith.

Faith shouldn't be put on the back burner when you choose to adopt.  The two can walk hand-in-hand.  Check out the adoption journey devotional I co-authored with Madeleine Melcher:  adoptee and mom-by-adoption.

11:  Compliment accepted.

There are many things we parents-by-adoption hate (such as, "Are your kids real siblings?"--which tends to come about mostly in families like mine which are built by transracial adoption), but there's one thing I personally love to hear.   What about you? 

12:  Positivity is OK. 

If you spend any time on the Internet, focusing on any topic, you're bound to leave with some hurt feelings, annoyance, or anger.  Adoption is controversial and the community can be combative, leaving you discouraged.   Please, please, please read this fabulous book, written by an adoptee, directed to those who want to adopt or have adopted.  I promise you'll be uplifted and educated! 

13:  Create a home library for your child.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to instill a healthy sense of "you belong here" and "adoption matters" to your child, even from their earliest days.  Here are nine books I recommend you add to your child's book collection.   I also recommend these fabulous books which showcase the love between a parent and child. 

14:  Searching is normal. 

If your child wants to learn more about himself or herself one day, DNA tests have opened up many doors!  An adoptee who wants to know more about where he/she came from and his/her ethnicity should be supported by their parents. Three of my four children have done a DNA test through Ancestry, and here I offer you my honest review of how the process (and results) went

15:  Don't neglect the grandparents!

It's completely natural for grandparents/future grandparents to need adoption education.  Here I break down for you how to help them understand your choice to adopt

16:  Prepare the children you have now for a new sibling-by-adoption. 

Too often, your now-children are neglected when you're in the trenches of adoption paperwork and preparation.   But that's a big mistake!   Here are some easy ways to prepare your kiddos for a new sibling

17:  Consider special needs adoption.

There is always a need for those who are able and willing to adopt children with special needs.  You can register with the National Down Syndrome Adoption Network, for example.   And be sure to stock your home library with these fabulous books on belonging and difference---great for not only your child with special needs, but their siblings too! 

18:  Never stop learning.

Too many times I see new parents stop their adoption education just because they finally have a baby in their home.  Let me be clear:  the learning should NEVER stop.   That doesn't mean you live in an all-things-adoption world.  It does mean that you understand that adoption is complex, bittersweet, and evolving, and you want to be the best parent to your child by always being open to new ideas, research, and resources. 

Cheers to 2018 and your journey ahead!  

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