Congratulations! After all those months and years of living on pins and needles, you are finally a mom. Now that the home-study is over, the selection process complete and the placement finalized, you deserve to take a deep breath and relax with your little one.
Here are a few lessons from another lucky adoptive mother.
DON’T feel bad if you find motherhood exhausting and overwhelming. All moms get tired and wonder if they are up to this job–no matter how they get their babies. In fact, feeling this way shows you actually are a REAL mom.
DO smile and be gracious when someone says, “You look really good for just having a baby.” They don’t need to know your new-mom-tummy really came from eating chocolate chips and Doritos!
DON’T get all hung-up on the unknown genetic pool. Sure, it is tricky not having a full medical background and you’ll always worry about some DNA surprise. But, look at your own family tree–there are probably all kinds of medical (and mental!) problems hanging from the branches. If not on your side, then definitely on your husband’s! The bottom line is: no baby is health-risk-free.
DO buy the book “Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born” by Jamie Lee Curtis. Read it often.
DON’T feel left out when other moms share their pregnancy and delivery war stories. You labored just as hard to get your baby, in a different way. Smile, nod, and change the subject.
DO keep in touch with your child’s birthparents. Aside from the grandparents, no one else in the world will be as happy to receive photos, cards and updates. As your child grows, you will want to have information to share with him/her. Keep the lines of communication open.
DON’T listen to everyone’s prediction that “Now, that you’ve adopted…you’ll probably get pregnant.” Statistically, it just isn’t true. Besides, it makes adoption seem second-best.
DO get involved with other adoptive parents. Make sure your kids have a few other “adopted” friends. Volunteer to help at your adoption agency. Be willing to mentor adoptive candidates or to talk with prospective birthmothers.
DON’T get your feelings hurt when people say tactless things. “Someday you might have a child of your own.” “Do you keep in touch with his real mother?” No parent owns a son or daughter. All children are on loan from God. Once we recognize this, a lot of the unimportant details just don’t matter.
DO write your child’s beginnings in a Once-upon-a-time storybook. Keep the details simple and add pictures, if you can. Read it often and use it as a conversation starter as your child grows older. Answer questions openly. Let your child feel proud and safe about the way your family came to be.
DO sing lullabies. DO blow bubbles. DO run in the sprinklers. DO lick the spoon together. DO savor these precious moments. You waited a long, long time for them.
Gabi Larson, the mother of 4 children, lives in Pennsylvania. She writes at The Gab Blog.