The Top Ten List of Things to Do While Waiting in the International Adoption

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After you complete all the running around, collecting documents, meeting with the social worker, dealing with the fingerprints, the FBI, the INS, and the home study is completed to this stage, what do you do next while you are waiting for a referral? Here is a list of the top ten things to do while waiting:

1) Start childproofing the house. (L.A. Parents magazine, found in the doctor's office, has many ads for baby-proofers, if you are not going to do it yourself.)

2) Concentrate on your relationship: "date night", a romantic weekend away. Have fun as a couple in adult activities (without kids).

3) Interview pediatricians. (Most will make appointments for prospective parents - many at no charge.)

4) Enroll in a parenting class or read a parenting book.

5) Visit a Child Development Center for ideas on age appropriate learning toys and services available (in Ventura County, Simi Valley Hospital has a program, and the visit is free).

6) If you plan to change your child's name, consider making a list of names you like (when you see the picture, it will be easier).

7) Start looking for age-appropriate furniture and necessities. (There is a book called "Baby Bargains" that is very helpful in finding the best buy for the baby's needs - strollers, high chairs, cribs, etc.) When the referral comes, then you will know what brands you want. (Make a list of where you saw items and the price!)

8) Meet with families that have made the journey before you and/or attend adoption support group meetings in your area. Many families love to give tips of what to expect to prepare you for your journey.

9) Meet with clergy to determine the religious rites of passage for an adopted child of other religious backgrounds (baptism, circumcision, naming, etc.)

10) Collect or make a list of gifts for the orphanage and people involved in the process that you want to thank.

When the referral comes, and you are waiting for our travel date, here are some ideas to help get you prepared.

1) Make a list of what you need to pack for the trip (so you don't forget anything).

2) Make a list of what you need to purchase, then, when you're ready -- SHOP UNTIL YOU DROP. HAVE FUN. (Target and Toys R Us have gift registries. If you are interested, make sure they correct the "due date".)

3) Prepare your family for the new addition. (Let them know how they can help, e.g. on your return.)

4) Prepare the child's room.

5) Prepare finances for the trip. (Notify your bank ahead of time if you need a large amount of cash.)

6) Contact your pediatrician. Many will review your referral medical information, some will give you sample medications to take to the orphanage and for you and your child, such as antibiotics.

7) If appropriate, consider Hepatitis vaccines or other health preparations for yourself (talk with your doctor-you know, the one who did your physical for the home study! Physicians may want you to be prepared for certain illnesses such as diarrhea or lice with prescription medications).

8) Make sure you know the policy at your place of work for leave of absence and benefits (e.g. health insurance for your child) you are entitled to (for example, my employer wanted a 30 day notice in writing before I left to access our adoption benefit package).

9) Make arrangements for pets or other things that need to be attended to while you are gone (if you are having someone stay at your house, inform them of your anticipated travel date--give or take a couple of weeks)' Also, if you have frequent flyer miles and the airline goes (or has a partnership with an airline that travels) to your destination, make arrangements to obtain your certificates and reservations with your anticipated travel date. If you are close to a free trip to the country you are traveling to, customer service of the airline may help you to obtain the free trip. For example, they might set-up a "debit" account where you pay back the mileage or if they are really nice they will add the miles to your account to 'help you out'.

10) Obtain all the documents you need to take with you (notarized if appropriate).


Credits: Janice and Allen Simen

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