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Bringing Your Adopted Child Home

What to expect from the adoption process and when your family finally comes together.

Keep the Nursery Simple continued...

Don't expect to settle your baby down in her perfectly prepared new crib at bedtime, say goodnight, and turn out the light. Even a newborn you gave birth to probably wouldn't settle down to sleep alone in a new crib. A baby or child who's just been separated from the world he knows needs comfort and closeness.

"Babies and children who have been in an orphanage are used to sleeping in a room with multiple children," Samantha Walker, associate director for international adoptions at New York’s Spence-Chapin adoption agency, says. "They then arrive in this beautifully decorated room, so lovingly prepared for them, and are expected to sleep alone. They may not be able to settle in by themselves." 

Ease the transition by temporarily moving the crib into your bedroom or placing a mattress or daybed for you in your child's room until your child feels safe.

If You're in Touch With the Birth Parents, Expect an Evolving Relationship

You may have some degree of open relationship with your child's birth parents if you’ve adopted domestically. (This is even becoming more common in some international adoptions.)

You may have established a plan in advance about how that relationship will work -- how many letters, whether or not there will be phone calls or visits, and so on. But remember that it's not set in stone.

"Be prepared that your relationship with your child's birth parents will evolve on both sides," Walton says. "It's your job as the adoptive parents to take care of the child not to take care of the child's birth parents," she adds.

Be sensitive about what the birth parent(s) may be going through. They're adjusting too.

Set Up a Support System

Get family and friends onboard to help out when your baby comes home. No matter how they come into your family, kids mean a very different schedule.

"You really need to set up a support system in advance," Walton, who's had children by birth and adoption, says.

Accept help. "When people ask if they can help," Walton says, "give them a job to do, like bringing food or maybe doing a load of laundry." I tell families that you need at least one person who, if you call at 2 a.m. saying, ‘I don't think I can do this anymore, the baby won't stop crying, and I've been walking the floor for hours,' will say, ‘I'm coming right over to help.'"

Your support system should also include other adoptive families. They can give you empathetic, been-there-done-that advice.

Your New Child’s Homecoming

1. Make the Day Low-Key.

You'll be thrilled to welcome your child home. But you might want to wait on the big celebration for a little while because parties can be overwhelming for a newly adopted child.

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