I would like to thank all the adopters who helped me compile this list. I hope it helps you as you go into your introductions. At the moment we are dealing with a pandemic and introductions maybe slightly different but hopefully some of these tips will make it a little easier.
Sleep when you can,this could mean taking it in turns to commute home from introductions and the other person naps in the car. Or if you are a single adopter then go to bed earlier than you normally would or try and take naps when you can. Trust me, you’ll be shattered!
If friends and families want to make you meals or offer to clean or help with ironing, don’t be proud. The best parents accept help.
Batch cook meals:
If you have the space, batch cook and freeze your favourite meals. If you don’t have time to batch cook, then over cook when you make meals and freeze a portion.
If you don’t have space then look for meal options which are quick and easy. Such as pasta parcels and sauce with veg. Something that can be made within 10 minutes with limited amount of washing up.
Small toys such as bubbles are easy to pop in your pocket but may help to break the ice and start some much needed bonding. You could have small world characters / animals. Something little that doesn’t take up too much room but also doesn’t cause a choking hazard.
You will thank yourself for doing this. I wrote a diary every day for 6 months. I documented the things he liked, didn’t like. Milestones such as words (I created a word list in the back and dated each new one. There was a pattern to the amount he learnt, it was fascinating and amazing to look back on).
Document what the weather is doing, what songs are number 1 or on the radio. What songs little one likes. What you wore the day you met them. These are all things that further down the line your little one will love hearing.
Take photos of all your firsts (you will anyway) but make sure someone takes one of you all together on your first day.
First trip out, first dinner together, first time little one comes to their forever home. You get the idea. They will ask you all about this in the future.
We also found these photos really helpful in talking about adoption. We put the photos in a large frame and talked about them, “the first day Mummy cuddled you” etc.
You can also now make the photos into a gorgeous photo book. Cub loves having these and they are really special to him.
If you start getting into the routine of making photo books as you go along it also saves a lot of time 6 months to a year down the line (trust me within the year I had over 5,000 photos of Cub and our family it gets out of control!!)
Ask questions to your foster carer about everything! We were given a list all about his routine. I wish I had written down some of the answers and kept a diary of the things the foster carers said. I thought I would remember but some things I have forgotten.
Talk to each other or someone you trust. Other adopters if you can (you will realise that a lot of your emotions are so so normal) Let them know your thoughts and feelings. Don’t bottle it all up. Even if you’re feeling sad and don’t feel you should be. This is all normal and it’s an emotional rollercoaster. Talk to your social worker if you have any concerns. They are there to help you.
Share the plan:
Share your plan with your closest. This way they know when to ask how the first contact went, when to message or ring and when to make sure they don’t ring so you can sleep.
Some people have sliding introductions. This will allow for some days off in between. This will be down to the child and the social worker to see the best plan for the child. But having a few days off to catch your breath can help.
Make time for self-care. When little one arrives you’ll be surprised to realise that nail varnish lasts a day (unless you get fancy nails – which is a great way to get some you time) having a bath is never quite the same – either they are hijacked, interrupted or once in a blue moon but complete bliss!)
If you are adopting with a partner allow each other time to do what they need to do to unwind. If you are a single adopter then make sure you allow yourself time to catch up on self-care. The washing can wait (or ask for help).
Fake it until you make it:
I have heard lots of people say this. It is so true. For me I had a background of teaching and childminding. Where kissing children you don’t know or are in your care isn’t the done thing. So when I saw my gorgeous little boy I felt excited and there was love there. But the love I feel for him now is the love I thought I would get instantly. But seriously, that sort of love grows over time, it’s a fairy tale to think otherwise.
Yes it felt super weird kissing my baby on the head, but give it a week and it started to feel normal and then you don’t even think about it or realise you’re doing it.
If you child allows it, kisses and cuddles are a great way to bond and show your love for them even if inside you’re feeling a little strange about it all.
Don’t take it personally:
This is really hard when all you have hoped and dreamed about is your baby and they are pushing you away or finding it hard. You are a parent now and it’s not about you, it’s about them. They are going through something we could not imagine, and they are finding their world very scary and confusing. If they push you away just be consistent, calm and approachable. I do know how it feels and it hurts, but don’t let them know that. They don’t need to deal with your emotions as well (I am a very emotional person and made a lot of trips to the loo to have a little cry and compose myself and come back out smiling). It will take time. We found each month we would look back and think that each month we had bonded more and more, the trust was stronger and love deeper.
Be gentle with yourself. This is a huge deal. Take time to rest, relax and look after one another. Don’t try and rush feelings, routines or expectations. I wanted it all to be perfect and have a good routine etc when actually, we just needed to get to know each other. A routine will follow, the feelings will come, and our expectations need to be realistic.
I hope this helps. If you have any other tips please pop them in the comments below to help support other adopters.
And if you got to the end of all that I thank you x