If you’re expecting a newborn, you’ll have no trouble finding list after list of dozens of “must-have” necessities. But for families adopting a toddler or older child, how do you prepare? Get out your pen and paper (or just hit the print button) because we have the information you’re searching for.
Do a little research
Whether you are adopting domestically or internationally, try to ask questions about the types of foods your child likes, whether they are eating table food or jarred baby foods, what kind of schedule they may be on, what size clothing they wear, and what toys they favor.
If you are adopting internationally, research some of the foods you child may be accustomed to eating. By providing foods he/she recognizes you may be able to ease the transition to a new country. You may also want to buy prepackaged snack foods or treats your child enjoys while you are in his/her country.
Start with the necessities
Your child will need a place to sleep. Children under the age of 2 will likely be comfortable in a crib. From for small toddlers a toddler bed that uses a crib mattress will provide adequate space without the enclosure of a crib. For older children consider a twin or full-sized bed.
Beyond sleeping arrangements, you’ll need to think about feeding your child. Many young children who have grown up in an orphanage or group home, may be delayed in some skills—including feeding themselves. If you child still uses a bottle or sippy cup, you’ll want to stock up on these. You’ll also need bowls and spoons with soft tips for feeding. You may want to invest in some large bibs until your child grows accustomed to feeding himself.
You’ll also need season appropriate clothing. Don’t go overboard and buy an entire wardrobe. Buy some basics—jeans, shorts, tshirts and a jacket if it’s cold weather. Children under 3 may not be very particular about their clothing but older children may prefer to pick out their own clothing. Also keep in mind that some adopted children grow very quickly once they are in a stable, nurturing environment.
Child proof your home
Children are curious by nature. They like to open doors, pull things out of drawers and investigate. Keep your child safe and your valuables out of harms way by doing some child proofing ahead of time. Cover all outlets. Put cabinet locks on any low cabinets that may have cleaning chemicals or breakable items. Place family heirlooms out of reach.
You can always invite over friends with young children for a couple of hours, they will definitely find what you forgot!
Move on to the fun stuff
Children learn by playing. Keep in mind that some children who have been in foster care or orphanages may be delayed with social, emotional and learning skills. Pay attention to the age rating on toys and stay within or one group younger than the age of the child you are adopting.
Great toys to consider include puzzles, board books, stuff animals, cars and trucks, balls, building toys, dress up clothes and outdoor toys. Be careful to avoid toys that might be easily swallowed.
Choose gentle children’s soaps with mild scents. Your child will already be in an unfamiliar place with many new sights and smells. Reduce overstimulation by keeping bathtime simple. Your child may also have skin allergies or irritations to certain soaps. If you are adopting a child from another ethnicity, research what types of skin and hair products they will need.
Make an appointment to talk to a local pediatrician. Ask about what types of medicines you will need to have on hand. The stress of all the new changes in your child’s life may lead to headaches or stomaches. Be prepared with the right medications and dosing instructions.
Make a list
Most expectant parents will create baby registries where their family and friends can help them to purchase the items they need. Don’t be afraid to create your own gift registry including many of these items listed. You can keep track of what you’ve purchased and what remains to be purchased and your family and friends will know how to help.