“Some men are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” This same concept applies to fatherhood. While some stumble into fatherhood by accident or as a happy surprise, others move heaven and earth to step into the role. And in no case is this truer than for that outstanding class of men known as adoptive fathers.
As with any father, there is no better day than the one in which their child comes home for the first time. But just as preparing for a new biological baby takes a lot of preparation, there are plenty of things to do before your adopted child comes home. Here are a few of them.
When you have a biological child on the way, the nesting instinct kicks in and helps you make the entire home ready—and yes, fathers, we fall prey to nesting just as much as mothers do. That instinct may not kick in in this instance, but try to pretend. You may not have the energy to devote to room overhauls later, so add them to the list of things to do before your adopted child comes home.
If your new child is an infant, this involves baby-proofing the nursery. If you’re bringing home an older child, make sure their space is nice and put together. This will help ease them into the new normal. But don’t become too attached to the room design. Once you get to know each other better, you may decide together to rearrange the room to match their interests.
Prepare the Family
The process of adoption is not just about the child; it’s about the entire family. And making sure the rest of the family is ready will help smooth your new child’s transition even after the excitement of homecoming.
Help your kids, especially, understand that this new child is just as much their siblings as a biological sibling but that this new addition may need a little more of your attention at first. If your new child has come from a traumatic background, you’ll also need to help your other children understand that they’ll need to be patient as their new sibling may be working through a lot.
Take Time Off
Many experts recommend families with adoptive children take part in a process called “cocooning” when your child first comes home. Cocooning is a time to allow your child to adjust to their new situation, learn their role in the family, and bond with their new parents and siblings. It’s an emotionally intense time for everyone involved, so consider arranging to take time off work.
But it isn’t just working you should step away from. As excited as you, your extended family, and your friends are, try to avoid shuffling your child through a barrage of social engagements. The new setting is already a big enough transition. For the first few months, try to stick close to home. Then, little by little, you can introduce your child to the world.