Ask Unclutterer: Preparing for a major life change

Reader Sarah submitted the following to Ask Unclutterer:

My husband and I are hoping to adopt a newborn. We could therefore be in a position of bringing home a newborn with very short notice. On the other hand, we could be waiting years. Some people I’ve talked to in a support group have said that they set up full nurseries, but that doesn’t feel right to us. We want to be prepared, but we don’t want to keep a lot of baby stuff to make us sad that we’re still waiting. Do you have any advice for figuring out and balancing what baby stuff we should get in order to avoid panic if we get the call, but without having stuff around that would end up as physical and emotional clutter until the baby comes? Thanks.

Initially, this question might seem like its answer will only apply to people in your very specific situation. This is not the case. When anticipating any life change, we all go through something similar. We want to look forward to the event (graduating college, starting a new job, having a biological child, getting married), but we also don’t want to be consumed by it. We don’t want the “one day” stuff to clutter up the present, but we also want to be properly prepared.

When we were in your exact situation, we did not set up the nursery. Even after we were notified we had been chosen and we had his delivery date on the calendar, we did not set up the nursery. It wasn’t until after we brought our son home that his nursery was assembled.

For one of our many state-mandated house visits for our home study, we had to show we had a place for our son to sleep and basic supplies for him. We showed our social worker what we had purchased, and all of it was being stored at the back of our bedroom closet. We had a Pack ‘N Play with a bassinet attachment (still in the box), a set of sheets for the Pack ‘N Play (we washed them and had them stored in a shoe box), a stroller (also in its box), a baby carrier a friend loaned us, a six pack of BPA-free bottles (still in plastic), and a diaper bag (but no diapers or wipes). That is all. State law required we buy the car seat within 24 hours of picking up our son, the box had to be unopened, and the receipt had to be taped to the box. So, obviously, we didn’t have a car seat, though we would have had one if the state would have allowed us to. Since we didn’t know at the time if our child would be a boy or a girl, how large the child would be, or if he/she had any dietary restrictions or allergies, we didn’t have clothes, diapers, or formula.

When we picked up our son, he actually came with some clothes, diapers, wipes, and formula. He also had a blanket, a stuffed animal, a quilted book, and a photo album. As we were walking to the car, my husband remarked that he was unaware children came with so much stuff. Even people who have biological children will comment that they didn’t realize they would be leaving the hospital with so many things in addition to their kid, but everyone does. Manufacturers of all-things baby and different charities give tons of stuff to hospitals every year that are passed along to new parents.

We have no regrets about not setting up a nursery. That being said, if there comes a point when you really want to make up the nursery, go for it. There isn’t a right or wrong way. You do what is best for you. It took us two and a half years from when we started the adoption process to when our son was home, and I can’t imagine walking past a decorated room that entire time. (People who have biological children don’t typically set up a nursery before they’re pregnant, so I don’t think our decision was all that odd.) For other adopting parents, though, a decorated room is a source of hope and excitement. It’s what works for them, and that is great for them. You do whatever you have to do to keep your sanity through the waiting period.

I offer the same advice to anyone eagerly anticipating a life change — do what is best for YOU and helps YOU to keep your sanity while you wait. If the stuff associated with the big change is a distraction (as it was to us), keep it out of the way or don’t have it at all. There will always be a way to get it when you need it. Besides, if your adoption ends up being from out-of-state, you’ll have to spend at least two weeks in that state before being able to travel home. You can always order everything you’ll need while you’re hanging out in the hotel (best yet, get a room in an extended-stay hotel, you’ll want the dishwasher and refrigerator) and all of the nursery stuff will be delivered by the time you get home.

If you feel like you should do something while you wait, I recommend reading books on parenting and child development. Ask your friends and family members with children what authors they like, and read those works. I’m a fan of the Love and Logic series, the Healthy Sleep Habits books, and Laura Berk’s child development texts. You won’t have much time to read once the little one arrives, so check out the books now. Plus, reading a bunch of different books on parenting styles will give you an idea of what type of parent you want to be. Another thing you can do while you wait is interview pediatricians in your area. We did this and it was nice to be able to sit and talk with the doctors about their styles of treatment without the pressure of “we need a doctor right now” hanging over us. The first time we took our son to the doctor, we already felt comfortable with his doctor and knew all about her experiences working with adopted children.

Thank you, Sarah, for submitting your question for our Ask Unclutterer column. I hope I helped you in some way, and good luck to you and your husband on your adoption.

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45 Comments for “Ask Unclutterer: Preparing for a major life change”

  1. posted by Sky on

    If you go to the “baby stores” you would think a baby needs tons of stuff but really they need very little. A simple crib, mattress and sheets, diapers, a few outfits and blankets(the more natural fabric the better), and their formula and bottles. They just want to be fed, dry and warm. They don’t need special towels, washcloths, pillows, etc.

    Everything but the crib would be inexpensive to have ready and could be stored in a small space and you could pick up a crib and put it together when you are notified about getting your baby.

    Also, you will be bombarded with gifts from well wishers.
    Best of luck to you!

  2. posted by Tragic Sandwich on

    Unless you’re going to have the baby sleep in a nursery from the time he or she comes home, there’s no particular need to have one set up. Baguette was several months old before we even put her crib together; before that, she slept on her changing pad in a bassinet (she liked the concave shape better than a flat mattress) followed by the bassinet portion of her pack-and-play.

    Since you have at least some time, why not consider shopping at thrift and consignment stores for baby clothes and linens? They are often in excellent condition because they are used so briefly, and can cost pennies. (The one exception might be sheets; the used ones we got no longer fit standard mattresses because their prior owners had put them in the dryer.) You can store them in small boxes or bins so that they’re out of the way until you need them–but that way you’re not rushing around trying to find real essentials at the last minute.

  3. posted by Tammy H on

    I am expecting my first child next month and we haven’t purchased anything yet. We live in a small-ish condo and dont see the logic in accumulating baby things long before we need them. We remind ourselves that babies only need a few things: a place to sleep, something to eat, some diapers, a carseat and a few items of clothing. Not nearly as much as the stores or other expecting parents might make you believe. We figure if he does come early, my husband or mother in law can go to the store and pick up those essentials, otherwise we will wait until we are within a few weeks. I bet in your situation, you might have an hour or more before you pick him or her up that you could stop at the nearest baby store or target to get those items. I also love the OP’s suggestion of a pack and play and other items kept in the boxes in the closet. That would be very easy, but I might still wait until you know you are closer.

    Another thought I have had to realize – babies don’t know or care if they have a nursery. Nurseries, especially nicely decorated ones, are for the parent(s).

    Congratulations on your potential upcoming life change! That is so exciting and your child will be so lucky to have parents who care so much 🙂

  4. posted by Rachael on

    My husband and I are in the process of becoming foster parents and are facing similar decisions in our home. The state mandates that we have a crib and a carseat and a dresser or closet space for a child, but that’s it. We also are registered to foster kids between birth and age five, so we have no idea how to prepare beyond gender-neutral bedding! One thing that has helped me feel like I’m actually getting ready is books: I’ve been reading a lot about fostering, and I’ve been yard-saling for books for kids of all ages, as I don’t think I could ever have too many books for any kid in our house to read. I’ll be watching to see what other people suggest!

  5. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Sky — I’m going to disagree with the statement about people showering adoptive parents with gifts. This doesn’t typically happen, at least not beyond very close family and friends. After a child is adopted, there is usually a six month to a year waiting period before the adoption is finalized. During this time, the biological parents and the state can change their minds, so most adoptive parents are wary about having big parties celebrating the child. The last thing you want to do is have an entire community meet your child and then have the child removed from your family. It isn’t until the adoption is finalized — when the kid is well beyond infant stage — that a family usually has a big celebration.

  6. posted by Kara on

    Newborns don’t actually require very much gear. The hospital sent us home with everything we’d need — including a car seat — to get through the first probably four days. OK, not a bassinet. Buy a pack-n-play that can function as a bassinet. And pick up a pack of diapers and wipes on the way home.

    Everything else that makes life easier you will buy as you realize you need it. Changing pad, crib, clothes, etc. A molded plastic tub with a detachable sling is great once you start doing baths. I thought it would be clutter, but it’s the best unitasker I’ve ever owned. A bouncer or swing is essential when you find you need to put the baby down from time to time. Carriers and strollers make outings possible. But all these things can wait until after the baby is home and probably at least a few days or even weeks old.

    Oh — you will need to clip baby’s finger nails immediately and often, but I finally realized regular nail clippers work better than baby-designated ones.

  7. posted by Kara on

    Additionally, you can order literally everything you need from Amazon, and once you’ve got a little one you can get Amazon Mom with Amazon Prime for free. So you can have whatever you need with two-day free shipping. You could order a box of NB diapers when you get home from the hospital and have it by the time the hospital’s supply runs out.

  8. posted by Bibliovore on

    Laura Berk’s child development books are indeed fantastic!

  9. posted by Zuwi on

    We got to spend a few weeks in the home state of our child while we were waiting for paperwork. We got a crib from a co-worker, and found a changing table in great condition that someone was getting rid of. We put both in her room to be, and waited until after we got home to set it up. She slept in her packandplay until gramma came to set up her crib ( at around 5 weeks). We actually had our baby shower after she arrived, and got many of the items we wanted, but we had already purchased most of the biggies. We bought the stroller and car seat in the state where she was born to limit carry-ons (with a gift card from my mom). And we ended up packing way too many outfits for her, and not nearly enough for us! She came with many items from the hospital, and even a few from her birthmother. the hardest part of the trip there was coming back with an infant. It takes a lot longer at the airport with all that stuff than you think! Congratulations!

  10. posted by Rita on

    I recently posted my own take on baby gear now that mine is 14 months old. The response and comments above are all great, and some of my post is not relevant but I”ll offer it here anyway:

  11. posted by reenie on

    When we adopted our two-year-old son–27 years ago!–we didn’t set up his room until we knew he was coming. We had one week to get ready and it wasn’t difficult. I second the idea of thrift stores. We found a chest of drawers, lamp, chair and lots of clothes. Friends gave us tons of their kids’ pre-loved toys! I also agree with Erin about lots of gifts. Friends of our son’s grammie had a shower for her within the one-week window, while our close friends sent or brought gifts. But then, your child’s the real gift!

  12. posted by Sky on

    Erin….that must be a VERY stressful 6 months!

  13. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Sky — Yes. The most stressful time in my life so far.

  14. posted by marjoryt on

    I have some ideas to help you get ready, which affect the family more than the baby.
    Sounds stupid, but I’ve experienced it and seen it many times. 2 door car/truck/SUV and baby car seats are not compatible. In an emergency, it can be done, but it’s really hard to get that car seat over the front seat, and babies aren’t supposed to be in the front seat. 4 doors please.
    Plan to buy a car seat for EVERY vehicle. Sometimes one parent will drop off and another parent pick up from grandma’s. In fact, if a relative will be keeping the baby often, give THEM a car seat too. I did after the grandparents “ran by the store” with the baby lying on the back seat completely unsecured.
    Scotchguard fabric in your cars now. Buy the cans and do it yourself on top anything the dealer put on. Many thin layers. You will thank me for this advice.
    Walk around the areas of your home and consider cleanability. My best friend’s baby had a diaper blowout on the white duck slipcover of her sofa. The stain didn’t come out entirely, even after bleach. At least it was a slipcover – better $100 than $1000. You will be operating on little sleep for several months. Make your home easy to clean and your meals each to make.
    Your own clothing should be easy to clean too. This isn’t the time for silk camis and linen slacks. Think – can I accept spit up on this or be willing to throw this away?

    Congratulations and best of luck.

  15. posted by June Lemen on

    We adopted our daughter from China, and although it was mandated by the agency that we have a space in our home for the baby, it didn’t have to have anything other than space for a crib in it. We did not know, however, after we started the paperwork, how long the entire process would take. It was two full years, and only after the paperwork had been received in China did we start to feel like anything was going to happen.
    Once we knew that our application had been favorably received, we started preparation. It made sense for us, but I totally understand where the writer is coming from. I did a lot of self-distraction during the waiting time, and I can recall clearly how frustrating it was, those months of hearing nothing. Keep heart. When I finally got the phone call at work, telling me that we had a baby, I allowed myself to believe that I would become a mother. Do what *feels* right for you and your family. I wanted a room ready for Lucy, even though she slept in our room in her port-a-crib for a couple of weeks after we came home.

  16. posted by hkw on

    Before my godson was adopted, his parents decided not to buy stuff while they were waiting for a baby. That was likely for the best as their first call was a false alarm and having a nursery would have been disappointing; also, they ended up with a four-month-old instead of a newborn as originally planned.

    While they waited, I set up a registry list for them on Babies R Us (you could choose any online store) and filled it out with gender-neutral things that had been useful for us as new parents. Then they didn’t have to think about it much, but when their son did arrive — and they had to jump in a car to spend time in his state — all they had to do was click on “buy” and the items they needed were delivered. You can do it yourself, or ask a friend who has had a baby in the past couple of years to do it. Barring any state regulations, the two things that might be good to have around in advance are a car seat and, if you want to try wearing your new baby, a simple cloth sling, which you can easily fold up in a drawer or under the seat of the car to be ready for when you get the call.

  17. posted by Peg_Bracken_Fan on

    We were in a similar situation. Now we’re parents, and I am so glad that we did the setup stuff that we did. I wish that we had done more!

    In my case, having things ready to go was peace of mind. We didn’t set up a nursery, but we did things to make our house kid-friendly such as decluttering our hazardous/breakable stuff, putting in radiator covers, and so on.

    I would recommend putting the child safety locks on your kitchen and bathroom cabinets and purchasing child safety gates, if you need them. Once your baby gets here, you won’t have a lot of free time. The choice for me now is, install baby safety items—or sleep? Sleep wins most of the time.

    It’s true that babies don’t need a lot of stuff… but there are a lot of baby things that sure make a parent’s life easier. We asked a friend of ours in the area to write up a list of what we needed, and that was very helpful. She gave us about half of the stuff on the list, too! The book “Baby Bargains” was very helpful in helping us identify what we needed.

    If you have storage space, you’ll find it’s a lot more cost-effective to acquire most baby stuff second-hand while you wait. Set your budget amount and be patient– We got a Dutalier glider and ottoman for $1 on Craigslist that way from someone who was decluttering their baby stuff! It’s not really worth spending a lot of money on baby items because you’ll only use them for a few months—and then, hopefully, pass it along to someone else.

  18. posted by Sarah on

    Thanks, Erin, and everyone else too, for the great advice and good wishes. Setting up a wish list and doing other non-buying planning and research is a great idea for while we wait, which I think will make me feel better, and I can see there are a couple things that I might want to get and stick in the closet. It’s also nice to know that others have managed without having everything ready to go, so I’ll keep that in mind.

  19. posted by JC on

    Each family is differnt.

    Beyond having a “space”, we did not prepare. On the way to the airport my mother gave us a diaper bag with some onsies, a couple bottles and a few diapers, and FIL gave us a babyseat at the first layover.

    Considering we spent the first week+ in a small hotel room waiting on paperwork, it was good to only have the bare essentials. DS came with the outfit he was wearing and a blanket, so it’s a good thing we had the bag from my mother.

    We set up a crib when DS was a few months old. I did paint a Noah’s Ark border around the room that I left when we moved.

    When our daughter came to us at age 5 it was completely different. She came with bags of clothes and toys that we had to go through.

    The waiting period is stressful. We didn’t actually finalize the adoption until DS was 16 month old.

  20. posted by Keri on

    I was interested to learn that Jewish custom (not a religious mandate–just cultural) is to not outfit a nursery until a baby is brought home from the hospital. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have your paint swatches and wallpaper picked out. You can even pick out your furniture and put it on hold (in stores where there is a large Jewish population) and have it delivered whenever you call. (You could also do lay-a-way where you pick up the item and make the complete payment when you want it.)

    The purpose behind this is emotional. God forbid, but if something were to happen and the mother miscarried or the child was stillborn or the adoption fell through, the parents would not be left trying to return all the baby things or looking at an empty room, which just makes the loss even worse.

    If I were in the LW’s position, I would not buy anything if I was not required to. Rather, I would have my wishlist of necessities and paint samples in an envelope and proof of a savings account with enough money in it to buy everything needed. Wal-Marts are 24-hours; you can get a baby at 3AM and pick up a bassinet and bottles and diapers on your way home and be ready to go. Painting and decorating and accessorizing can be done anytime following.

  21. posted by priest's wife on

    So many wonderful adoption stories!

    I agree with waiting because
    1. Some babies hate swings or whatever- Borrow an item from a friend, if it works, buy a new one or keep on borrowing
    2. I bought a few things when I was pregnant with the first boy. He died 20 weeks in utero- I’m glad I had just a few cute outfits and not a full nursery to return
    3. For adoption- do what the law requires then have grandma run and get a few essentials when baby finally comes. Then- shopping a bit with baby will be a necessary reason to get out of the house 😉

  22. posted by Christie on

    We parent with Love and Logic too… we adopted our girls through foster care. We had to have a bed and dresser in each room, but nothing beyond that. We were also required to have a fire extinguisher. 🙂

    Even when fostering, the rule of thumb is to have one set of clothes, pjs, and underwear/pullups for the age groups you would be taking (within reason a 4-8 yr old can pretty much fit similar things). Many children come with only the clothes on their backs. So most of my friends would ziploc bag something gender neutral like cotton shorts and a shirt, and underwear labeled with the size. The only other thing I recommend all foster families keep is a lovie for the child to have their first night,a tooth brush, and LICE treatments! Most things outside of that can be bought the next day, especially if you line up a friend or relative to shop for you while the child settles in.

  23. posted by Katrina on

    I’m no where near thinking about having a child yet, but this post intrigued me. I imagine you would only need to set up what you would need right when the child comes home. While this is true, you wouldn’t want to be gathering stuff together because you will be plenty busy with the new one and won’t be able to run out to get something as freely. I imagine all you would need is the basic furniture (crib, changing area, comfy chair), and the things to take care of the child (formula, bottles, diapers, listening monitors, wash, lotion, towels), and a few clothes and toys. As the child grows, you can find more items at your leisure and perhaps even second hand, which I’m sure would save a lot of money!

  24. posted by April on

    I recently submitted a similar question, only I’m about to give birth. Thanks for answering this question in a way that I can relate, too… not just for adoptive parents.

    Though I still worry about properly prioritizing all the to-dos before the baby gets here, since I know I can’t get it all done in three (give or take) weeks.

  25. posted by Patti on

    As another adoptive mom, I’d like to point out that laws vary by state. In our case, there was no revocation period. Once the papers were signed, two days after birth, the birth parent could only withdraw consent by proving fraud. For us, finalization was just a formality.

    We had a large welcome party when our daughter was about six or eight weeks old and were inundated with gifts and hand-me-downs.

    I agree with all the advice given. Do what you need to do to feel positive and hopeful. You will be a mom!

  26. posted by Elizabeth on

    For a hopefully humorous corollary…I’m stuck now trying to decide whether to keep an attic full of old baby furniture, clothing, and accessories because I think “one day” one of my three young adult children might want it! LOL! They do grow up!

  27. posted by Sonja on

    One thing I thought of was setting aside money for setting up the nursery and buying stuff for the baby so that you’ll have money to buy what you need when you need it. I know that adopting is expensive, hopefully setting aside money will help.

  28. posted by clothespin on

    Consignment sales (not stores, but the twice a year sales) are the best for getting lots of good stuff for little money. We got our baby’s crib and clothes and toys and…

    But, in my experience, what you don’t want to skimp on are the stroller and the car seat. Bob Revolution is wonderful – get them at REI. Britax or Sunshine carseats are also great. Both are pricey. Both are totally worth it. Go cheap on everything else. Well, maybe an Ergo baby carrier but…

    And, we’ve been waiting for several years to have our 2nd child, thought about adoption – our guest room is just a guest room. You have to go on living the life you have now before you can get to the life that you want with your baby.

    Good luck.

  29. posted by Jude on

    I had nothing set up for any of my three children. My mother said, “Don’t buy anything until you see what you receive.” Even though I never had a baby shower, she was absolutely correct. You’ll end up with plenty of stuff.

  30. posted by Miss Brooklyn on

    I’m trying like crazy to change my username from Miss Brooklyn to Miss Small-Town/City-with-Reasonable-Cost-of-Living-and-Pleasant-Climate. But due to my niche profession and the crap labor market, it’s taking longer than anticipated. On top of that, I was forced to move a few months ago when the previous apartment became unliveable and I’m basically camping out in the living room and kitchen of the first apartment I found. I have packed/partially-unpacked boxes and just a bunch of random stuff, plus the empty boxes of the stuff I needed unpacked, all stored in the bedroom, which now looks like something out of Hoarders. (The giant litterbox doesn’t help.)

    I’m deeply ashamed of that room, but I’m having trouble figuring out what to do about it. I don’t want to invest time, energy and money into unpacking/organizing/decorating when I could get a job across the country next week. However, I might never find that elusive next job. I just can’t figure out what to do, but I’m terrified roaches are laying their eggs in those boxes or something. (An unfounded fear – I’ve only seen one roach. But I’m prone to worrying.)

  31. posted by Nicole on

    I recently saw an interesting show on HGTV where the designer created a space for a 1-year old girl to grow into, not a nursery she would grow out of. The room included beautiful “full-sized” furniture and girlie yet sophisticated palette. As you get ready for your child, prepare a space that you can enjoy now, looking forward to when you can enjoy it with him or her. If baby furniture saddens you, don’t include it at this time. However you use the space now (guest room, reading area, etc.), it should be inviting and joyful, just as it will be when you bring the little one into your home. 🙂

  32. posted by [email protected] on

    Would you be struck off as adoptive parents if you told them you were co-sleeping? This can be a wonderful option and requires more research than actual equipment.

  33. posted by Julie on

    I think the childproofing tip is a great way to prepare long before your family grows. Some things are smart to do just to prevent injury when other people have kids over or there is an emergency (bolting heavy furniture to the walls, spring loaded outlet covers, etc)…

  34. posted by Nancy on

    I suggest the book Baby Bargains by Denise and Alan Fields. It has great advice on what you *really* need for a baby. They also offer reassuring advice about what is needed when. Great advice on minimizing things that you don’t need or won’t use!

  35. posted by Erika on

    Just wanted to pop in and mention that things like time to finalization and time you need to spend in-state for an out of state adoption vary widely across the country. For example, we adopted from a different state, stayed there for 3 days, then brought him home.

    The state we adopted from had no waiting period, so there was no way for the birth parents to change their minds after the papers were signed. And I assume that other states vary in other ways as well.

    We got lots of cards, people gave us baby showers, and family gave us gifts and everyone treated us as if we’d just had a bio baby.

    Congratulations on your impending addition! I agree that you really only need to set up as much of a nursery as you want and as your homestudy dictates. Good luck 🙂

  36. posted by cathi on

    Loved ‘Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.’ Only other book I’d recommend is Magda Gerber’s ‘Your Self-Confident Baby.’ All the best!

  37. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Jess — Irrespective of if you co-sleep at night or not, you still need a bassinet or crib for the child to sleep in for naps. I don’t know a single parent who sleeps every time her/his infant does … our son slept something like 18 hours a day those first few weeks.

    At least in our state, the social worker doesn’t ask you how you plan to have your child sleep at night. So, it doesn’t seem to matter here. However, since adoptive parents aren’t breastfeeding, I think there is less of a desire to co-sleep. Whenever my husband fed the baby, I wanted him out of the room so I could rest. Same applied for when I was feeding our son.

  38. posted by JustGail on

    I’m in the group that had the essentials set up when we brought the DS home – crib, clothes, diabpers, and feeding items. Babies don’t really care about what their room looks like until they are developing a sense of “MINE!”.

    Since it’s been in the news so recently, most of you probably already are aware that it is now illegal to sell used cribs due to infant deaths from the drop-side cribs. So if you were planning on getting used, you will be in for a suprise if you wait until the last minute, and then have to spring for new.

  39. posted by The Mommy Blawger on

    I want to mention that the AAP now recommends that babies sleep in their parents’ room until the age of 6 months. So personally, I think that setting up a “nursery” for an infant is a bit of a waste. We’ve never adopted, but we usually have the youngest child sleeping in our room (whether bedsharing or in a bassinet or toddler bed) until the next one comes along. By that time, they’ve outgrown “baby” decor and equipment.

    Erin – please don’t assume that adoptive parents don’t/can’t breastfeed! Many women, even those who have never given birth, are able to induce lactation and breastfeed an adopted baby. It does take some effort, planning, and sometimes herbs or prescription drugs – but it can be done.

  40. posted by Erin Doland on

    @The Mommy Blawger — I realize you were trying to be helpful with your comment. However, the information you’re providing isn’t fully accurate. The drugs and hormones you’re discussing don’t work on most women (the success rate is higher for women who have had a biological child and lactated previously … adoptive fathers and us barren women are typically not contenders). Also, if the drugs are successful, the woman rarely produces more than 20 to 40 percent of what a child needs on a daily basis. Then, there are the side effects of the drugs and the increase risk of diseases, like cancer. Not to mention that some of the drugs the women take then are transferred to the children through the breast milk. Oh, and don’t forget the insane cost of it all (because insurance doesn’t cover something like this). So, yes, a small percentage of women can pay large amounts of money to drug themselves with chemicals to produce an insufficient amount breast milk. In that very specific case, you are correct that some adoptive mothers can breastfeed.

  41. posted by Pet Trout on

    Lots of good advice in the comments above, but of course, I have just two more cents. :o) Please don’t Scotchgard your car or your house, it’s quite toxic and children are much more susceptible to such things. That said, the poster is correct to suggest the “cleanability” factor. For the car, you could get a *new* doggie blanket — washable, has gaps for seat belts, etc. Anything precious/breakable should be packed up now and put away — assuming you are keeping it. We are also adoptive parents of 2 girls from China. “Infant” in that program means anyone 24 months and under and despite common perception, a boy referral is entirely possible. It seems stupid, but I felt being too prepared might jinx it. If you don’t want a shower ahead of time, make that clear to your relatives, friends and co-workers! My humble suggestions: If you’re going to paint the room, do it now. There are plenty of gender neutral options (personally can’t stand the blue/pink dogma) — greens, yellows, light purples. No need to get the furniture, but a medium square seagrass-type basket that can hold toys, stuffies, kids’ books, etc. can hold any small stuff you get/receive beforehand. As slightly older parents we had the luxury of quite a number of parents who were just at the ‘get rid of crib, crib sheets, infant clothes, kid books” and much much more stage. I was stunned at the amount of stuff we got free. For the big stuff like furniture, you can arrange ahead of time when to get it/have friend drop it off thus avoiding the “pass by the empty nursery” feeling. Keep an eye out for good thrift/consignment stores with large kids’ sections (or maybe exclusively kid stuff) — there’s great practically unused stuff to be found. Later you can sell your gently used stuff back to them, keeping clutter somewhat at bay. If you purchase any clothing, get sizes 9 months and above, you may be inundated with small infant clothes which might never fit or won’t for long. Also true for baby carrier — our first was a chunker who had to be squeezed like a sausage into the Snugglie despite all claims to expect Asian children to be smaller than American children of similar age. Agree with all the childproofing advice above, do that small stuff (or really anything you plan to do around the house) now while you are getting sleep. Which brings me to my final comments. Sleep as much now as possible!! Try living a day or 2 without a shower. Go see an adult movie in a theatre. Oops, I mean avoid kids’/G movies, not porn. Wear heels, whites, fashion while you can (sweatpants may soon be your new best friend). Read anything not child development related you’ve been considering. Go see live music/theatre, etc., you won’t have time, money or be able to stay awake later. The waiting and unknowing is difficult, compounded by well-meaning folks who keep asking “any news yet?” They have good intentions even if it’s hard to hear it for the 1000th time. Best of luck, you’re in for a great ride!

  42. posted by Pet Trout on

    Sorry, one more thing. If you purchase any toy, the single best, easy, portable, waterproof, educational and lasts a long time toy is those colorful stacking cups. Really.

  43. posted by Karla on

    I don’t have children, nor plans to have them, but found this really interesting. So heartening to read comments from so many adoptive parents! Never enough, of course, and yet people have to wait so long. I have friends who now have their son from China after 5 years. If/when I feel called to parent, foster/adoption are very attractive options to me.

  44. posted by Liz on

    I can’t speak to the infant-specific question, since DS was nearly 5 when we adopted him. However, some of our journey is still relevant. We did a lot of preshopping, but didn’t actually purchase anything for his room until our Letter of Intent was approved. Even then, we had a nice guest room for a while, since the bed, most of the bedding, the dresser, and the curtains are age-neutral. The kid toys, kid quilt and blankets, decorations, and booster seat were kept in the closet until we were actually home.
    One of the things we did while waiting was to purchase vented metal locking cabinets for our art supplies (in the family room, with added foam corners for my safety, not just DS’s) and one in the garage for the house paint. Our microwave was going bad, and we made sure that the new one we bought had a lock-out key sequence (our old one did not).
    We wish we had had time to paint the house, especially DS’s room, with a more washable paint. “Washable” markers do not really come off flat paint.
    Since we had a done a lot of preshopping, we were able to get additional items quickly after we got home (such as storage containers, a padded pouffle for bedtime reading, and a rug) and were all set when our first postplacement visit occurred at 3 months.
    Good wishes to you on your journey!

  45. posted by Angela on

    I gave birth to my son abroad and we planned on traveling back to the US within 3 weeks of his due date, so we really had the bare minimum of baby stuff for him. We had a baby bjorn (he was big enough for it at birth) for carrying him around to the embassy (for paperwork) and to the airport. We had a small travel bed, basically a fold-out sleeping pad with raised sides. When we got back to the US, we borrowed a car seat from one of his cousins and put the sleeping pad on the floor near our bed at night until we transitioned back into ‘regular’, non-hotel housing where he finally got a crib about a month later.

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