Parenthood is not an easy task. There are many ups and downs, good times and bad. It’s a learning experience every day, and takes a special kind of person to raise a child. But, even despite all the challenges it brings, parenthood is one of the most rewarding experiences either a single parent or couple can have. In the spirit of the recent Father’s Day celebration, Adoption Choices of Nevada wants to speak to adoptive dads.
Fathers are very important in a child’s life, and play an essential role in the adoption process. For some fathers, the concept of adoption can be scary. Others may find it exciting. Yet, the overall consensus is that the idea of adoption — and word itself — provokes a mix of emotions. This is perfectly natural. It’s okay to feel apprehensive about the process, and what that means for your future. That’s why we are here to support you, and provide helpful tips for adoptive dads.
1. Be patient
The waiting game associated with adoption is enough to give any first time adoptive dad anxiety. Being patient during this time isn’t easy. To help combat this, keep yourself busy. It’s important to make sure that you are prepared for the day when your baby comes home. Double check that you have all the necessary supplies you’ll need — extra diapers, clothes, bottles, etc. Organize and establish the nursery. Build a crib or candle for your new bundle of joy. Be sure that your house is safe from a crawling baby, and curious hands. Secure any outlets or cords. Remove any potential hazards. Schedule the necessary check ups with the baby’s soon-to-be-pediatrician.
It’s essential to be patient and take advantage of the time you have during the waiting period. Try and enjoy it while it lasts as well, for when the baby comes, the real work begins.
2. Build a support system
Friends and family members are vital lifelines for first time parents. So, dads, never hesitate to ask for help. To rely on those you trust in times of need. It’s ok. No one will think less of you. No one will judge you. Parenthood doesn’t come with an instructional manual, and this isn’t like asking for directions. Seeking advice and counsel from friends and family who have parented before you will help you learn and grow in your own experience.
Just be sure who you are going to rely on, and who will become part of your support system, before your baby comes home. Talk to those you choose, and ensure they are willing and committed to be there for you. If any of them ask you how they can help, assign them with a specific task. For instance, determine who can bring a meal when and who will drop everything when you can’t handle life for a moment.
3. Keep first day low key
When your baby comes home, everyone is sure to be ecstatic and want to come over to see him or her. To celebrate their arrival and want to hear all about it. But, there’s a time and place for that. The first few days that your baby is home is probably not that time. Especially not the first day. So, keep it as low key as possible. Not only for the baby, but also for you.
The first day and the first few following are for you and your baby. To settle in. To bond. To come down from all the stress and anxiety of the adoption process. So, let your friends and family know that you’ll be limiting social interactions — including social media — and will resume once things quiet down.
4. Stay calm
A newborn spends nine months getting used to the sound of his or her mother’s voice. The feel of her movement and touch. Her scent. All from utero. It’s how he or she learns who their parent is, and that they are safe. When a newborn, or even a toddler, is placed for adoption, the separation from their birth parents to joining their adoptive parents can be overwhelming. It takes time to re-establish those feelings of trust and safety. So, if your baby has a difficult time adjusting after he or she comes home, stay calm. Be patient. It’ll be ok.
For the first few weeks or months, to help your baby through the adjustment period, love on them. Hold them close. Buy a sling or wrap-carrier, so they can be against your chest as you walk around. This will help them learn your scent, and grow comfortable with you. Try and limit how many different people hold your baby during the adjustment period. Too many changing hands can further confuse things, and lengthen the amount of time your baby needs to feel safe.
5. Don’t overanalyze
As aforementioned, parenting is hard. It’s too easy to overanalyze and overcomplicate things. Especially as a first time parent, you’re not going to get it right the first time. You’re going to make mistakes. Over and over again. But that’s natural. So cut yourself some slack. It’s a learning process. Be patient with yourself, and don’t beat yourself up. Don’t immediately assume the worst case scenario. Instead, try common sense and trusting your instincts.
A great piece of advice given to all moms is to “sleep when your baby sleeps.” Maintaining your health through food, hygiene and rest is important. Without your health, you won’t be able to take care of your baby. So, when your little one is sleeping, do the same. Catch some much needed Zzz’s, especially if you’re spending the night shift trying to comfort your child and help them sleep. If you have a partner or spouse, take turns. This ensures that at least one of you will always get a full night’s rest.
6. Establish a routine
We learn best by repetition, right? Growing up, when you noticed that your parents served meals at the same time every day, you learned that your need to be fed would be met. Same with naptime. From infancy to when your parents weaned you off them, naps happened like clockwork. Bedtime too. Our brains learn to predict and expect behavior depending on repeating patterns. The more those patterns occur, the more we settle into the routine.
Establishing a routine into your child’s life will further help them develop feelings of safety and comfort with you. The more the routine is practiced, the more your child will learn to comply with it because he or she will know that their basic needs are being met. That you are a trustworthy parent. This then will secure a deeper attachment and connection between you and your baby. Every family may operate a little differently when it comes to routine, so find what works best for you and stick to it.
Make sure that within that routine — diaper changes, naptime, story time, bottle feeding times, etc — there’s still plenty of affection. Snuggles, cuddles, kisses, play time. Those moments are just as important. Through this, your child will learn how life with you works, and will grow in confidence that you are where he or she belongs.
7. Make your time count
Life is short. Plain and simple. Every day is a gift, and the next is never guaranteed. Distractions are everywhere, and by the time we realize it, years have passed. Your baby will go from an infant to an adult in a blink of an eye. So, don’t take any moment with them for granted.
Love your son or daughter for who they are. For who they become. No matter what. Live with them and love them in the present. Don’t push them to grow up too fast or propel them into the future. We have more years as an adult than we do as children. Teach them how to grow, how to respect, how to love. Guide them in how to spread their wings. But, above all, never waste a moment. Cherish each and every one you have with them.
8. Self care
Adoption and parenting is an all-consuming process. That’s one of the many challenges that accompanies parenthood. If you aren’t careful and mindful, it can overwhelm and overtake your life — and not in a good way. So, to reinforce the point made in #5, make time to take care of yourself. Whether this is going for a drive, out for coffee with a friend, or another activity you enjoy, schedule time to do this. Call up someone in your support system, and have them watch your baby for an hour.
If you have a partner or spouse, it’s equally important to make time to spend with them. To nurture and cultivate your relationship. Time may not be on your side, but make self care and your partner a priority. You’ll be surprised what opens up, and how things happen when you change your focus.
Helpful Tips for Adoptive Dads
When it comes to fatherhood, the adoption process throws an additional hitch into parenthood. Whether you are a first time adoptive dad or veteran parent. After all, your baby has literally been separated from everything he or she knows. For a newborn, that’s impossible to fathom. He or she needs time to process and reset themselves. But that’s all part of the journey. Adopting a baby and becoming an adoptive dad is one of the most rewarding experiences a parent can have.
Adoption Choices of Nevada
If you are currently in the process of adopting a baby and have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact, Adoption Choices of Nevada. You may visit the website here or contact us by 775-825-4673 (Reno Office) or 702-474-4673 (Las Vegas Office). Our hours are Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm PST.
Support Adoption Choices
Adoption Choices, Inc. is partnering with Crowdrise, a fundraising website for nonprofits, to help our adoptive parents and birth parents with much needed financial assistance. We understand that expenses keep clients from fulfilling their dreams. Both with birth parents making a plan for adoption, and with adoptive parents growing their family. It is our mission to provide financial assistance through grants and scholarships, awarded annually in November, in honor of National Adoption Month. Funds assist adoptive parents with matching and placements, adoption finalization and helping birth mothers improve their lives through higher education — and much more.
However, we can’t do it alone. Please read up on our programs and donate money where you are able. Your donation will make a huge impact.
About the Author
Rachel Robertson is a published journalist, book editor, certified Publishing Specialist, and aspiring novelist. She graduated from Central Washington University (CWU) in March 2011, having found her writing voice within the Creative Nonfiction genre and grew to work as a freelance book editor for small presses all across the United States.
In June 2018, she embarked on an internship with Virginia Frank and came on board with Adoption Choices Inc., Not for Profit 501(c)(3), in December 2018. Between her mutual passion with adoption and surrogacy, and her own personal history with adoption, Rachel is excited to research and share topics each week that will spread awareness and better serve the faithful patrons of Adoption Choices Inc.
When Rachel isn’t haunting her local Starbucks or Barnes and Noble, she’s avidly pouring over her Writer’s Digest subscription or cozying up with a cup of tea and book. She currently resides in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her beloved wife and Border Collie.
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