This guest post is by Brian Esser, an adoptive father and attorney.
A lot of potential clients tell me they are starting their adoption journey in the New Year.
It makes sense. A new year is full of hope and promise; it’s a milestone and brings a sense of time passing.
And with the stress and hectic pace of the holidays over, you can take on an endeavor like adoption. And starting your adoption journey is a big endeavor.
If you get overwhelmed at the beginning, you’re not alone. I feel it helps to break the process down into more manageable pieces.
Here are a few adoption resolutions you can make for 2016.
1. Educate yourself
The first thing to learn about adoption is that there is a lot to learn. International versus domestic. Public versus private. Agency versus attorney. Openness, transracial adoption, and relationships with birth families…
Invest in books and learn about some of the big issues. As an overview book, Adoption for Dummies is actually pretty great. Then delve further into issues that you find interesting. You might also look into attending an adoption conference.
2. Use positive adoption language around family and friends
This is really about educating them. You will want your mom to say “made an adoption plan” instead of “gave up” to her grandchild when he or she is 5, so start teaching her to use that language now.
They may slip up and disappoint you, but if you haven’t taught them the right words to begin with you can’t be upset later.
3. Build your support team
Talking to other intended parents in a pre-adoption support group is a great way to get information. You’re likely to find people in all stages: Waiting, matched, or still doing paperwork.
Seeing other people get matched can also make the process more tangible and encourage you to finish up paperwork. Or you might prefer one-on-one counseling.
An added bonus for either: A therapist or another intended parent can keep you on track and prevent you from getting stuck in a “agency or lawyer?” or “international or domestic?” time-suck.
4. Stop stalling
Those time-sucks are so easy to fall into. If you keep forgetting to make an appointment to get fingerprinted, or you just can’t deal with figuring out your addresses from when you were in college, ask yourself why you’re getting in your own way.
Just set aside time on a weekend if you can, plow through whatever has you stuck, and then reward yourself for making a step toward parenthood.
5. Save money
Adoptions are expensive — there are no two ways around it. And your family budget will change.
You’ll have to pay for diapers and childcare, and a host of other things that are so worth it. So make those adjustments now and start building your savings.
6. Explore other funding options
There are adoption tax credits, employer benefits, loans, grants and fundraising opportunities to help supplement your savings. Gather information about them now and decide how you’ll build your budget.
7. Take pictures
You will need to have up-to-date photos for your adoption profile. Have a friend take pictures of the things you love doing.
Ask yourself what photos would tell a potential birthmother a lot about you? Whether you’re outdoorsy or love to be in the kitchen, for sure get a pic of you in that environment.
8. Plan and prep
This one is very particular to you. Some of my clients have moved into larger homes so they have a place for a baby. Some have changed jobs so they will have more family-friendly schedules.
Big changes or small, there are some basics you’ll need, like a car seat. Start a registry — you don’t have to share it — and add or subtract as you learn more.
Speaking of learning, you may also want to take a baby care class if having a newborn will be a new experience for you.
Continue to do things you enjoy. You won’t miss out on the perfect match just because you went to dinner and a movie with friends instead of staying in and working on your profile.
Take your annual vacation, and try to live a normal life —the process can take over your life if you let it.
Brian Esser combines his experiences as an adoptive father with a dedication to providing the highest quality and personalized legal services. His law practice is focused on adoption, reproductive law, and estate planning for families of all kinds.
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