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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 1970

    Default Tips for adoptive parents

    (This has been cross-posted with the lounge forum)

    Hi folks: We've been asked by an adoption newsletter to write a short article on tips/advice for adoptive parents when it comes to baby products. So, we'd love to get your feedback . . . for those parents who have adopted, what advice would you give to others? Post your ideas here!

    Alan & Denise
    authors, BABY BARGAINS & BABY 411

  2. #2
    malie Guest

    Default RE: Tips for adoptive parents

    Some tips for those adopting internationally

    Control the urge to spend :) I think particularly those of us who adopt internationally who often wait a bit of time for a referral and who only have a vague idea of the age our child is going to be at placement, it's easy to get caught up in the buying ahead and ending up with things you don't need (clothing is the big one for most people but other things as well). People might swear by a bouncy seat or an exersaucer but if your child comes home too big for either of those items or almost to the point they have outgrown them so the purchase is a waste of money. Obviously there are some items such as a car seat that are less of an issue but for many items until you know a little bit more about your child, if you can delay buying them do (then again if you absolutely have to buy something children's books usually are a safe bet and you will build a nice library for your child.

    Children come in all shapes and sizes so when it comes to clothing forget the age range on the size rather look at the height and weight ranges and actual measurements (if you have them for older children) and compare them to whatever information you have for your referral. Your 9 month old might be average in their birth country but small or big by "American" size charts

    Finally don't be afraid to register. Babies R US online uses the term arrival date as compared to due date so even if you are not comfortable going into a store when you have a lot of unknowns, you can still create a registery (which may keep you from actually buying the stuff) on line and then go into the store and simply say you wish to add to your registry and grab a scanner and go. Then you can add and delete items once you have a referral dependent on the age and "size" of your child. Even if you are adopting an older child you can still create one, don't let the fact your child is 3 or 4 or older stop you

  3. #3
    icunurse is offline Emerald level (3000+ posts)
    Join Date
    Mar 2003

    Default RE: Tips for adoptive parents

    Speaking from our own experience (domestic, newborn, open adoption), I can tell you that most of the preparation for a newborn baby is the same for both biological and adoptive parents. All of us will look for a safe carseat, inevitably fall in love with cute bedding, and grumble a bit about the price of furniture and diapers. All babies esentially need the same things. Some of the things we have done or noticed about specific products in relation to adoption are:

    * the baby book - we had to put forth a little effort to find a baby book that was represenative of our adoption (most ask about labor, pregnancy pics, etc.). I have purchased "Our Chosen Child" (hate the title, love the book). It has lots of spaces specific to adoption (how we met you, naming ceremony, adoption day, waiting for you), but also has the classics (firsts, bathtime, birthdays and upward). I have heard that Hallmark sells some books marked "suitable for adoption", but have never found any by me. Lots of people also start a scrapbook and make it into a baby book all their own.

    * announcements, invitations - some people customize them for adoption, others leave them simply worded. However, if people are considering adopting a child of another race/culture, it might be of benefit to pay attention to card design (ie. it might not make sense to have a Caucasian baby on an announcement for an African-American child - yes, it happens).

    * children's books/board books - lots out there specifically for adoption and many are starting to become more aware of people adopting children of a different race. is a site devoted to adoption books, for all members of the triad (adoptive parents, adoptees, and birthparents) across all age groups. Amazon. com also has a great selection and good prices. Bookstores tend to not carry a lot of books about adoption, but tons about pregnancy. I have probably had to purchase online 90% of the books I own and borrowed many more from the library and I live around a major city.

    I found that the biggest difference of being a new-adoptive-parent-to-be (vs. a biological parent) was to simply be aware of the differences in my child and how he arrived, respect those differences, but not go overboard to the point where adoption becomes who he is rather than just a part of who he is. We definitely dealt with a lot of issues that biological parents don't have to (paperwork, waiting for "the call", creating a relationship with birthparents, worrying about a change of heart), but deep down all hopeful parents just want to be parents and to love a child.
    Other advice is to start deciding what you like for a baby before the baby is here. Sometimes you really only get a few hours notice to go to the hospital and take home your child. Some people prepare a room beforehand, others wait until the baby is in their arms (many who do this tend to have a list for themselves or someone else to get the immediate items of their choosing). Registering and a baby shower are also up the individual (we registered after completing all the adoption paperwork so it was one less thing we had to do -BRU will let you keep changing the "due date"- but wouldn't consider a baby shower until he was home and it was "official". It was also nice to be able to show him off during his baby shower).
    Final thoughts - enjoy it - you're going to be parents! It may take a little while or a couple of attempts, but no one who has ever stuck with the process hasn't turned into a parent. As hard as it may be sometimes, it is okay to celebrate just a little, or maybe buy that perfect "coming home" outfit, or indulge yourself a bit because it won't be happening much after the baby comes. :)

    Hope this helps a bit.

    ~Connor's Mom~

  4. #4
    holliam Guest

    Default RE: Tips for adoptive parents

    Great tips so far. Some other suggestions...

    International adoptive parents should be particularly flexible about their expectations about how easy it will be for their baby to adapt to all these wonderful baby "gadgets" we tend to fall in love with in the US. Many of these items are not commonly used in their birth countries.

    Many babies will have never been in carseats, strollers, or even cribs! Carseats is obviously one area that you'll have to enforce their use, but tell them it's okay if their baby doesn't like the stroller or crib at first. Suggest trying slings (I personally don't recommend the Baby Bjorn but the Carriers forum here has other excellent suggestions) instead of strollers, particularly when dealing with international travel from country to home with a young baby (less than 6 months). Umbrella strollers are rated for 6+ months; many parents do not realize this.

    Encourage them to be willing to try various ways of sleeping. Don't freak out or expect baby to be thrilled with that brand new crib you've been staring at for months. If the baby sleeps better next to you, don't stress. Focus on bonding with YOU rather than with things. Buy a co-sleeper or something if you're concerned. Move the crib into your room. Be flexible and willing to experiment!

    If you can send items to the baby before coming home (this is common with Guatemalan adoptions), buy a stuffed animal or blanket (or even something like and sleep with it for several nights to get your smell and send it down. Send down one of those little baby photo album books with pics of you in it too. Read stories on a cassette and send down.

    If you can send items ahead, send the bottles you want to use so you're not switching baby at 6+ months. Or else you need to be willing to accept that your baby may not want the fancy Avent bottles you spent months researching. She just wants the cheap ones she's used to!

    Keep receipts for baby clothes that you buy. I'm not going to even try to suggest telling them not to shop because shopping has kept me sane. But, be willing to return items or donate or re-sell if baby is wrong size, the adoption takes longer than expected, or you lose the referral and end up with a baby born in an entirely different season.

    The nursery is fun to setup but when those days turn into weeks, months or in our case a YEAR of waiting, it's brutal to walk in there or even by there. Hold off as long as you can, but know that even doing that is no guarantee that the room you created with such love can bring some heartache during the wait.

    Adoptive parents have a lot of time to do research, and it's probably easier for us mamas who aren't battling morning sickness or pregnancy discomforts. But, it is so important that we try to keep an open mind and be as flexible as possible. Adopting an older babe (3+ months) means that they come with schedules, likes, dislikes, and expectations. It's up to mom and dad to roll with it and not expect them to love all the gear we've researched and bought!


  5. #5
    smkinc is offline Silver level (200+ posts)
    Join Date
    Apr 2003

    Default RE: Tips for adoptive parents

    We adopted via domestic infant adption, and J. was placed with us with 6 days notice (he was 5 weeks at placement). Our agency warned us that a baby could 'fall out of the sky', and so we did buy clothes and got his room ready ahead of time. Here's what I would do if I had it to do all over again, given what I know now:

    1. As previous posters have said, I would resist the urge to spend until the child is in your arms. When you're waiting you have all of this nervous energy that I channeled into buying--clothes off ebay/researching and buying cloth diapers, etc., etc... If I could go back, I would have channelled that energy into taking an infant CPR class and starting a baby book/scrap book instead.

    2. I would have the room (furniture/bedding) ready ahead of time again. I had decided on a whim to stencil J's room a week before we got the call, had I not done it then, it never would have gotten done (no big deal if it wasn't perfect, but I love his room and it was a good way to burn off some nervous energy). Also, it was great having the changing table, crib and bedding all ready to go.

    2. I would buy 1-2 outfits and 1-2 blankets only and register for the rest. I could not have imagined the outpouring of support we had once the news got out we had a placement. People were literally coming out of the woodwork dropping off baby items at our house, I had 2 impromptu showers within 48 hours--almost all of our baby gear needs were met via gifts from others which I never anticipated.

    3. I would buy a convertible carseat first and wait to buy an infant seat. J. was 12lbs, 24" at placement and we only used the infant seat 2.5 months. In retrospect we didn't really need it and could have easily borrowed one from someone else.

    4. I would research and make a list of what I needed/wanted with respect to baby gear--pack-n-play, stroller, toys, books... This would have been good to have on hand for the impromptu showers and it would have been easy to fill in the rest after placement.

    5. I would have splurged and bought a baby bjorn, a KKAFP, a mom-n-me pouch and the MacPac backpack before placement--I would have sought out experienced babywearers and really figured out which carriers fit me ahead of time. I ended up borrowing/buying all of these and these are the only items I regretted not having earlier. I was thrifty and I tried a OTSBH (gift)and a homemade pouch sling I got off ebay. Neither fit me well and by the time I realized this J. was several months old.


    Mom to Jeremiah 2/2003

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2003

    Default RE: Tips for adoptive parents

    Here are my thoughts:

    1)If your child will be an infant at placement invest in (or sew!) a carrier or two and learn how to use it prior to arrival. I whould have been lost without my Sutemi-style carriers and I think we had a really smooth attachment because of them.

    2)If you think there is a chance of using any of the short-term baby gear like swings, saucers, boppy pillows, etc. try to borrow them from friends and family, you never know if your child will even like them if they are in the right age or size range.

    3) Like Holli, the shopping kept me sane during the wait, so I wouldn't advise not to shop...but do use the time to research and make wise choices. (read: spend lots of time reading Baby Bargains and hanging out on the BB boards!)

    4) don't be afraid to buy things that won't be used for a little while - kids grow so much faster than I anticipated!

    :) Kristin
    Mom to Theo, born 1/12/2004 in Korea ~ home forever 7/6/2004
    and Morgan the yellow lab

  7. #7
    StephanieW Guest

    Default RE: Tips for adoptive parents

    I am also adopting internationally. I am a waiting parent and spending a fortune on clothes. I recommend not starting because it is so hard to stop. It can get a bit out of hand. My husband keeps asking if I've bought her prom dress yet.

    I second the recommendation for a sling. I am still researching which one but the one made by Playtex seems to be the most practical. It is a smaller investment, packs easily and my husband won't mind wearing it (unlike Maya Wraps or Hot Slings).

    Some adoption experts recommend baby photo books. Whoozit makes one that I think is cute but also has one that appears to be smaller (important to those of us traveling with a weight restriction) and it only costs 5.99.

    For feeding, I bought 3 types of bottle Avent and 2 cheaper Platex bottles and I bought 2 types of nipples for both; Avent's sippy cup nipple and their fast flow nipple and Playten silicon and cheaper rubber (?) nipples. Also suction cup bowls and disposable bibs for the flight. Even though our daughter (who will be at least 12 mo) may be off of bottle Adoption Specialists sometimes recommend bottle feeding to aid attachment.

    Recently, I am most excited about Kipiis. Make a bib anywhere, out of anything (small and easy). I will also bring a stack of 8 wash cloths I bought at Target for $3.99, we always have bandanas with us and I may bring 1 or 2 dish towels. These items can be used as bibs (with Kipiis) there are a number of other uses as well. I also plan to take one of those hard plastic bibs and a smock like bib with sleeves.

    I have yet to use it but I bought Aveeno shampoo and body wash (all in one) because I only need to carry one bottle. Other companies have a similar product but I like that there is oatmeal (to sooth skin) in the Aveeno products.

    Toys to bring along; deflatable beach ball, stacking cups, postit notes (multiple uses and fun for a child to stick and use to draw on), those foot rattles (double as socks) and a puppet (smaller than a stuffed animal and more uses).

    For Chinese adoptions, there are stores with necessary products in China. I have read that enough diapers, wipes and basics for 2 days is enough to keep you until you get to a big enough city to find what ever you need.

    Hope this helps. I am a bit tired and out of it.

    Thank you for taking adoptive parents into consideration, it is confusing to figure out what we may need vs a bio parent esspecially if we are not getting a new born.

  8. #8
    ghs517 Guest

    Default RE: Tips for adoptive parents

    We did domestic newborn adoption and had three days' notice for our DD's arrival. The following things/attitudes helped (and my apologies if these are repeats from above):

    -- As soon as our home study was approved, we bought a crib, painted the room, and bought Baby Bargains.
    -- Use Baby Bargains and other advice resources to decide what of everything you want/need (e.g., type of stroller, etc.) so that if you have little notice, you still get just what you want.
    -- Hit yard sales or borrow from friends those items with short-term value (swings, infant tubs, clothes, etc.).
    -- Get a baby carrier to WEAR YOUR BABY. Adopted children have often been through one or more transitions (hospital, foster care, orphanage, etc.). Your child needs to be connected to YOU very soon and very often. I much prefer a sling or more snuggly-type carrier versus the Bjorns which merely dangle the child in front of you -- not enough of a connection, IMHO.
    -- Don't sweat the "stuff" too much. Children need love, food, warmth, and diapers. Everything else is extra. My DD's clothes were in milk crates for several months, as we ordered furniture after she arrived. She didn't know the difference!
    -- Once your child arrives, be selective about what you share about his/her background. It's HER/HIS story, not yours.

  9. #9
    cmdunn1972 Guest

    Default RE: Tips for adoptive parents

    We had an unusual adoption experience because it was a domestic adoption that took place overseas. (The birthparents are US military stationed in Japan, and we were there for a month.) Hopefully, my husband's and my experience allows me to discuss aspects of both domestic and foreign adoptions:

    1) When you put your name on the waiting list, they can call you at any time, so be prepared. We were told that our wait could be from 0-22 months, and we expected it to take at east 1 year to get 'THE phone call'. It took 2 weeks (no kidding!). We had nothing: no furniture, blanket, clothes, diapers, and found that we had to buy a lot of things ourselves. (For that reason, your book was a tremendous help.) If I could do it all over again, I would have registered as soon as we were put on the waiting list. It would have saved us time and trouble upon our return, and our friends and family would have known what items were actually needed!

    2) Don't count on foreign countries carrying the same products over there as we have over here. I can't tell you how much money we wasted trying to find Similac formula (or anything where the directions weren't in Japanese) without result. We ended up paying $750 to ship the formula via FedEx with the caveat of biting our nails as it was hung up in customs. (We needed over a month's supply.) The best thing to do is to spend the extra money to bring any formula you may need with you. We might have paid extra money to the airline for the extra luggage, but we would have saved in shipping. The same goes for diapers and bottles as it does for formula. Bring as much as you can with you because buying US products overseas can get pricey.

    3) I found the Baby Bjorn Active soft carrier to be the best for overseas travelling, especially if you are going to be out and about with the wee one now and again. (Who doesn't want to take some extra time to do some sightseeing while their visiting the foreign country for an extended period of time?) We tried the MamaBaby Maya Wrap sling, but found it both too difficult to operate and insufficient use for over an hour or so (hardly enough time if you need to take a cab ride in Tokyo to search for diapers or get dinner). The Baby Bjorn is much simpler to operate and the lumbar support was great for all-day wear.

    4) Because of new breakthroughs in medicine, it is now possible for many adoptive Moms to breastfeed. (They simply induce lactation using various hormones.) I was not able to take advantage of this because of the short notice of our placement, but it would be good for adoptive parents to have reviews of breast pumps (hospital grade, electric, or manual) that are available. Being able to breastfeed an adopted child might also help some adoptive Moms feel that they aren't missing out on anything that (most) birthmoms get automatically.

    5) Go ahead and have an adoption shower. As noted above, registering early (noting appropriate sizes) is a good idea because it will avoid the result of getting 10 to 15 receiving blankets and clothes sized under 1 month when your new addition is 2 months old.

    6) Accept any hand-me-downs that you can. The cost savings is immeasurable and consider that adoptions can be extremely expensive.

    7) We saved a lot of money on plane fare by using frequent flyer miles to pay for the tickets instead of cash.

    8) Don't count on great safety ratings on hotel cribs, either domestic or international. Many of them are the type where the sides lower by folding down via hinges in the middle, which are easy to pinch little fingers on. Also, customs of childcare are often different in other countries. For instance, the Japanese housekeepers in our hotel put a flat topsheet and pillow in our son's crib (a no-no in the US)! Additionally, many hotels charge a premium for crib use. We found it safer to simply share sleep with our newborn baby and foregoing the pillows and blankets on the big bed. (In some cases, however, adoptive parents may have the luxury of bringing a Pack n' Play. If you don't plan on sleep sharing at home, and you have time to plan and space to pack, that might be an option.) Another option is you line a dresser drawer with a receiving blanket and letting your newborn (>1 month old) sleep in the drawer on the blanket. (After all, they're not going anywhere!)

  10. #10
    Wnderlnd Guest

    Default RE: Tips for adoptive parents

    We adopted our daughter via domestic adoption. We had about two weeks notice the baby was a girl. We held her when she was 24 hours old and then drove her home when she was just three days old.

    Following many people's advice, we bought only a few things of clothes and only a few necessary items: bottles, pack-n-play with bassinet, infant car seat, diapers, and a few other things. We were told that we'd get so much more at our showers that would be held after she came home.

    Well, let me tell you that WE made many trips back to Babies R Us and bought most of what we felt we needed because our showers didn't take place for another 6 weeks! We didn't have enough of anything for our comfort level. We waited till after the showers for everything else because people kept telling us to hold off. Honestly, I wish we hadn't. We received a TON of clothes...WAY more than she will ever wear (because she grew too fast--far off the charts) and we received very few of the other items that we wanted or felt we needed.

    WE are super grateful, but when adopting, the showers come after the baby comes home. For example, you will have to spend money on bottles that in other situations people would buy for you off your registry. Basically, if you want it or feel you need it, go ahead and get it. People LOVE buying baby clothes, so taht is mostly what you'll receive anyway. Our friends, family, neighbors, and church members were hugely supportive and very generous, but we feel very guilty when we clean out our daughter's closet every few weeks with clothes that she has never worn...if we have another girl, she will be beautifully dressed! :)

    With that said, I still advise creating a registry. People love to see what you have register for and it does make returns easier. PLUS, it is so much FUN! We simple guessed at an arrival date and discovered we were only 10 days off!

    Mom to Ellison, 4 months

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