Meeting your child for the first time is an exciting, mind blowing experience. You’ve prepared their room. Bought clothes, toys and books in abundance. You’ve probably spent a lot of hours in their room wondering what it’s going to be like. Is it really going to happen? Are you actually going to become a parent?
Meeting your child for the first time when you’re adopting is like nothing else you’ll ever experience. It’s one of those things that unless you’ve been through it, you can’t really understand what it’s like.
You’re meeting little people who already have likes, dislikes, routines, favourite toys. They already have an attachment to the people who’ve cared for them, often for many months. And you have to go in, look like you know what you’re doing and soak up as much information about them as you can. And at the same time, try to get to know the child who’s going to be your son or daughter.
So, how do you prepare for something like that? Can you prepare for something like that? I’ve asked adopters who’ve been through introductions what advice they’d give anyone about to start. Here’s their top tips:
- Take some time for you before you start. Make the most of long baths, lie-ins and free time.
- Batch cook meals in the weeks leading up to them so you’ve got easy food when you get home.
- Make sure you have plenty of snacks and drinks with you. For you and kids.
- Don’t have high expectations about how things will go, particularly for the first few days. Take each day as it comes.
- Don’t worry if you get things wrong. That’s what parenting is all about.
- Keep a record of what you did and how your felt at the end of each day.
- Find out what your child’s favourite colour is and try to wear it.
- See if you can find out foster carer’s perfume or aftershave and have a spray of it so you smell familiar and safe.
- If you have a partner, make sure you talk through your feelings with them. It’s ok if you both don’t feel an instant connection. Be patient and the feelings will come.
- Take lots of photos and videos.
- Accept that being at the foster carer’s home is a false situation and not real life. Stick to their routines until your child is home.
- If you’re travelling a long distance for intros and have to stay over, take little luxuries like candles and beauty products.
- Ask as many questions as you need to.
And remember, it’s a means to an end. Your new version of real life starts when your child comes home.