Psychological Pregnancy

I can use this spot now... right?  ;-)
Photo via flickr user brianteutsch

I came across this article on Resolve's (National Infertility Awareness Association) facebook page this afternoon; the article is about preparing for parenthood via adoption.  This led me down a trail of google searches and articles about how parents do and don't prepare themselves for this major life change when their "pregnancy" is psychological rather than physical.  If all the articles I read had one thing in common, they all pointed out that first time parents who are adopting often have a hard time letting themselves get excited and prepared for parenthood because of the fear involved.  The fear that the adoption will take a long time, will take a bad turn, or won't even happen at all.  

Boy is that true.  

Nevertheless, adoptive parents must face their fears and prepare for parenthood.  Nothing like taking a deep breath, swallowing hard, and putting a baby (toddler or kid) registry together!  

John and I have tried and are trying a number of things to live into this wonderful and nerve-wracking season of expectant parenthood. 

1. Completing the home study.  This, of course, is not optional for adoptive parents, but it is something that can be a great part of your expectant parent experience.  Especially the homework part; reading about adoptive issues and preparing yourself to handle the joys and challenges of bringing your child home is a great way to prepare yourself.  Which leads to: 

2. Reading, watching, and listening to just about anything you can get your hands on.  The home study material, though helpful, is mostly negative.  It helps the adoptive couple explore just about every.little.thing that could "go wrong" in an adoption.  And it can leave you feeling discouraged.  There are, however, hundreds of books and documentaries, and radio broadcasts that demonstrate how wonderful the experience of adoption can be, even in the face of challenges.  My advice: balance out the "prepare for the worst" material with stories that will help you anticipate the best.  Instead of going to your midwife or OBGYN appointments, schedule a few dates with the adoption and parenting shelves at your local library.  Plus, reading a great book sounds way more fun than getting your cervix checked, doesn't it? 

3. Becoming the kind of parent you want to be.  Taking on parenthood changes a person.  When a woman experiences physical pregnancy, her body changes, it gives her signals about when to slow down.  Her midwife or doctor will give her advice about health care, eating habits, exercise, lifestyle habits, etc.  Friends and family share stories about how life changed when their brought their little one home; what surprised them and what to prepare for.

Though we don't have a timeline like a pregnant couple will (ie: we only have 3 more months to do xyz before the baby comes), John and I have used this season to evaluate our lifestyles and consider what changes we want to make that will help us teach our son about our values with respect to the God, the earth, other people, and ourselves.  We've found a local farm where we can take our son to play and purchase our meet and eggs; we've checked out summer camp and class options at our local art council and dance schools, and we've make notes about play groups, library events, and kids museums.  Who knows how all this planning will turn out, but at least we've had great fun dreaming up all different ways we can expose our children to the arts, to culture, and to our faith. 

4. Getting the stuff.  Parenthood isn't about stuff, but let's face it: it sure comes with a lot of stuff, doesn't it?  Car seats, toys, sippy cups, kid shampoo, strollers... getting the stuff ready is a big (and fun!) part of preparing for parenthood.  We've been working on getting our little man's room ready and a friend of mine has even offered to throw me a shower- something I'm excited about!  Everyone will have a different timeline for getting the stuff ready- some will wait until they're back from their first trip, others will do it right when they're matched with a birth mom.... it is a personal decision but an important one.  There is no right or wrong answer here; as an expectant adoptive parent, you need to do whatever will help you prepare for parenthood the best.  

5. Finally, praying for your little one.  Whether your adoption is in the idea phase or you are hoping to bring your little one home next week; be praying for your child.  Prayer helps us focus outward.  It centers us on God's will.  It reminds us to put the needs of our child before our own needs.  What better way to prepare for parenthood than to begin by relinquishing control over  your child's life.  Whether biological or not, each child is a gift from the Lord and we as parents are God's servants, charged with the task of nurturing and raising our children to- as a seminary professor of mine used to always say- know, love, and serve the Lord. 

If you are expecting a child through adoption, what have you been doing to prepare yourself for parenthood?  

If you are a parent of a toddler aged 2 or 3 - help me with my #4!  What are your most loved or "must have" parenting items?  

In expectation- xo. 


  1. GREAT post! so important to do!

  2. I agree... great post. :)

    And, hey! Have I told you Aaron and I worked at Sherman Lake YMCA? This post just reminded me, talking about camp and all.

    Our most loved "thing" is probably our Phil and Ted's Explorer Stroller. We like to go on walks, and it has been wonderful for that. Also, when R broke his leg, it was wonderful. It has one seat and you can attach a second seat in-line(like behind the first child). It has a high weight limit-- 44lbs for the front seat and 33lbs for the back, so they can both ride in it at 4.5 years and 5.5 years.

  3. My aunt adopted two babies from Asia almost 2 decades ago now, and each time she was "preparing" and "expecting" she wore the butterfly symbol in her jewelry and on clothing or around her house because that was her chosen symbol of expectancy. Pregnant women get a large (and said to be beautiful) belly and that is their public symbol of what is happening. I loved that my aunt had a symbol as well of her upcoming babies. She had to explain to many, but her close friends and family knew what the butterfly was all about. I just thought that was such a cool way to have something that "shows" you are getting ready. Even if it is kinda cheezy :) Sadly, my aunt passed away this last spring and now every time I see a butterfly I think of her and her kids. So I guess the symbol was more than just for her adoptions as well.... anyways....long story....sorry!

    I am so excited for you guys and encouraged by your strong faith and bravery in this process! Much love to you!

    1. Steph I've been wearing a necklace with a baby shoe on it, that my parents gave me a few weeks ago. Every time I touch it I think of this story about your aunt and the butterfly. I pray I meet her on the new earth someday and tell her that her choice to wear a symbol had a big impact on me. Thanks for sharing this story!

  4. Anonymous9/02/2012

    hi! i'm a new reader, and am very excited for you :) how exciting that you'll have your little man for Christmas this year!(just read today's post sep. 2) i'm a mom to 1 1/2 and a 3 1/2 year old boys, and i would say my 'must have' parenting item is a good atitude, toddlers will test that atitude at every turn!! and since they are little monkeys and copy everything they see you do its important to keep a good atitude; easier said than done sometimes though.


I love reading your comments! Those left on posts older than 2 days will require moderation.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...