Adoption: Ten Things Any Waiting Father Should Know
Number #1: Understand that when your wife hears, “You know what they say, once you sign up with an adoption agency, you’ll get pregnant,” it’s just a reassurance to her that by having to adopt and being unable to conceive, she’s less of a woman. It’s obviously not true and will most certainly hurt her feelings the first dozen times she hears it. Try and come up with a good response to comments like these that you both can use.
Number #2: Learn as much as you can about the adoption process and what to expect along the way. Your wife is probably out there absorbing and learning all sorts of information about your selected agency and other resources available. There are a plethora of books available for women in the waiting game, and if she’s anything like me, she’s reading them left and right. Unfortunately, there aren’t so many options out there for waiting dads. Your adoption agency should be able to provide a list of suggested reading. Or simply go ahead and read the ones written with your wife in mind. The information applies to you as well. The books are usually just written in a female tone and voice.
Number #3: Don’t pretend that the holidays are easy. Occasions based around family, especially mothers day for your wife and father’s day for you, will be particularly trying. My husband and I discussed celebrating both, like a family who was pregnant would, but decided that the pressure was too big. Consider these: What if two or three fathers days go by before you are a dad? What if the little stocking you bought for junior’s first Christmas goes unfilled? Discuss with your wife how you both want to celebrate the holidays while waiting for the addition to your family.
Number #4: Tell anyone and everyone that you are in the process of adopting. Most domestic adoptions are first initiated through word of mouth. It may sound odd at first, relating your adoption desires to your IT guy at work, but the more people who know what you want—a baby—the more people you have out there helping in your search. I know of people who have made up business cards and buttons to hand out. I’ve even handed out a few myself.
Number #5: Be there for your wife when she mourns the fact that she will never be pregnant. Child bearing is a huge part of any woman’s life. From an early age, in addition to the whole fairy book wedding fantasy, your wife has been dreaming of the day she hears those magic words from her doctor confirming what deep down she already knows. She’s pregnant.
Now, even though there are a million things to be excited about during the adoption process, she will never get to see an ultrasound. Or gab to friends about her morning sickness. Or take prenatal yoga. Or ask you to go out and get her ice cream at two in the morning. Grieving over her infertility, or yours if that is the situation, is a vitally important part of the pre-adoption phase. Until you have both come to terms with your infertility, you shouldn’t sign up with an agency. But even after the initial feelings of loss subside, be prepared to support her as certain situations bring her loss into focus again. Something as simple as seeing her nieces or nephews may send her into a brief period of sadness. Respect this, and be sure she knows to do the same for you.
Number #6: Be prepared for people to ask all sorts of inappropriate questions. Why can’t you two get pregnant? Is your wife the one who is infertile? What did you do when you found out you two would never have babies “the conventional” way? Are you going to try and get a baby that looks like you? Have a game plan, especially for family functions.
Number #7: Buy stuff! Enjoy the fact that you have some time to prepare for your future child. You may have months or you may have years to wait. No one can tell you for sure. If while running errands together, something brings a sparkle to your wife’s eyes, make a note of it and surprise her later on with a “just because” present. I have an entire dresser and half a bedroom filled with things my husband and I have purchased in preparation. Some, like an amazingly perfect crib and my dream stroller, were bought on super-sale, saving us a bundle. Other, small things like the monkey rattler I bought for my husband and the cute 1 2 3, A B C book he bought for me, fill Tupperware containers. All these things help both of us get through some of the depressing times when it seems like our profile will never be selected. I can open up a dresser drawer and pull out a book or toy and remember that, in time, my child will be there with me in that very room.
Number #8: Join a social network or some type of support structure. Having others to talk to and vent with about the trails and tribulations of adoption can help alleviate some of the stress. You and your wife are not alone in your search for a family. Just knowing that there are other waiting parents out there feeling the same and going through the same things as you can make the process of adoption a lot more bearable. Your wife is going to need to find other women she can talk to about the gender specific issues she’s feeling. And you will gain insight from waiting dads as well.
Number #9: Reassure your wife that, even though she won’t be going through the actual labor and delivery, and won’t have the hormones of a new birth mom, she will still have the natural, instinctual love, and knowledge of a mother. There is a certain amount of doubt that all moms feel. Will she be a good mom? YES! Reassure her that she will have the same feelings towards your new addition as any mom would. And you will too dad!
Number #10: Remember not to let your life become a waiting game. You really don’t have much control over your adoption and how long it will be before you bring a baby into your life. In the meantime, learn what you can, “promote” yourself as much as possible, and more than anything, get a life! Or at least keep hold of the one you and your wife already have. Not everything has to revolve around your future family or your adoption. Keep going on dates. Keep making love. Keep dreaming of your future. Just don’t put everything on hold until you get there.
Life will go on while you are waiting for a baby to bring into your family. Be there for your wife and she will be there for you. Become a strong team together. You are going to need it once your day finally comes, and you bring that new bundle of joy home to the perfectly decorated room you’ve painstakingly stocked with anything and everything the baby books told you to buy. For the rest of your lives, you are going to have to work together, and if you thought the adoption process was hard, just wait until baby hits middle school!