What to Do While Waiting for Your Adoption
Here are some useful activities I found for the time you are waiting for adoption of your child..
1. I found a Vietnamese student at Northwestern University and took Vietnamese lessons. This was the best thing I think I did... It's a hard language to learn, but I really tried. I had about 25-30 words that I could say (who knows how well!) and a few key sentences. It helped me feel like I was making progress, and I think it's always appreciated when someone tried to learn a least a little of the language... Thuy-Anh (my teacher) was also fabulous... we talked about Vietnamese culture, adoption issues, etc. She helped me translate a letter that I wrote which I had hoped to give to Lia's birth family.. But this was by far the best thing I did in my waiting time... and it was so much fun to do it with a student rather than just a book!
2. I started working on Lia's lifebook... this involved taking photos of myself in various stages of preparation (i.e., working on dossier, my passport photo, etc.) and putting them into a book. Once I had her referral I was fortunate enough to receive pictures fairly regularly during the LONG wait to travel, so I put those into the lifebook as well.. A good thing, since I have had precious little time to get anything done on her book since.
3. I read voraciously about Vietnam, adoption, etc. Some of my favorite books on Vietnam were "House on Dream Street" by Dana Sachs; "Catfish and Mandala" (it's about a Viet Kieu who returns to VN and takes a bike trip from HCMC to Hanoi). I also watched movies Hitchhiker's Guide to VN (available through PBS), Scent of Green Papaya and Three Seasons.
4. I shopped!.. way too much, actually. I found out where the great second hand baby clothes stores were, and I was a regular customer.
4. I tried to exercise as much as possible, and in particular to get my back and arms in shape... Lia was little when I got her, only 6 months but she weighed 15# and I was glad I had spent at least some time getting ready to be carrying that much weight around all the time.
5. I stocked up on non-perishable groceries, like paper towels, canned goods, etc that would be heavier to carry and harder to bring into the house w/a baby. (I am a single mom so that may not be as big of a deal to some, but it was really challenging to bring groceries into the house when Lia was a little baby... didn't want to leave her alone in the car, or in the house... so I tried to only get what I could carry in one hand.)
6. See movies.
7. Sleeeeeep sleeep sleep, precious, elusive, glorious, fondly but vaguely remembered sleep.
8. Savor those Sunday mornings with the NY Times, coffee and couch.
9. I organized donation parties with my baby shower, including a list of needed supplies in w/the invitation. I carried TONS of stuff over.. perhaps in retrospect it would have been easier to give $$$ but people liked bringing things.
10. Interviewed and chose a pediatrician.
11. Interviewed daycare providers... this is harder to do part. if you don't know the age of your child, and infant placements are harder to find, but at least I toured various facilities, checking out the family vs. the daycare center, etc.
12. I did set up her room... I know some people don't like to do that but it helped me feel more ready.
13. I made sure my house was stocked with sick kid supplies.. again, if you are not single maybe it's not such a problem, but I was glad I had things like Pedialyte, motrin, baby tylenol, etc around.. since Lia did come home sick and I had what I needed already there.
14. Got extra life insurance. Made a will and chose guardians.
15. Travel stuff - checked out airfares, got shots (Hepatitis B requires a fairly long lead time, if i recall, so might be a good idea to find the travel clinic near you.)
16. Obsessed about every single development/ rumor on Aoptive Parents of Vietnam. spent WAY too much time online.
17. As I recall... the last few weeks before I finally got my referral were the hardest. I was so ready, and it felt like it would be "any day now" for months! I felt like I had put my old life on hold, but the new life had yet to begin. So.. I signed up for a volunteer project at my church that I knew would take at least 3 months... and I got my referral just a few days later!