Many couples who adopt through American Adoptions are first-time parents. They wonder if they should do anything special to prepare, like take classes or read books. First-time parent jitters are totally normal, and there’s truly only so much you can prepare for. But here is some advice we hope is helpful:

Many hospitals offer great preparation classes for first-time parents. However, there are pros and cons to attending these classes while working on an adoption plan. The information you’ll get out of a parenting class is certainly beneficial. But some families have said that it can be emotionally difficult to attend classes with expecting couples, knowing that even if you currently have an adoption opportunity with a birth mother, there still is that risk that it will not be a successful adoption.

What can you do instead of attending a class like this? There are many other options. A few hospitals offer parenting classes that are specifically tailored to adoptive couples. You’re very lucky if your hometown hospital offers these, as it is a relatively new trend. Other hospitals offer refresher courses for grandparents. Some couples have signed up for those classes and found this type of atmosphere more appealing.

Another option is to talk with other women, in your family or circle of friends, who have either become parents recently or have even been daycare providers. They can be great mentors.

Others have turned to books to prepare for when a little one joins their family. What to Expect the First Year, Second Edition (by Heidi Murkoff, Sandee Hathaway and Arlene Eisnberg) is a great book if this sounds like a good option for you.

In many adoptions, the baby will be released from the hospital directly to you, the adoptive couple. If you experience an adoption like this, please know that you’ll be involved during the discharge at the hospital. The nurses will go over what formula to feed the baby, how to bathe the baby, cord care and any other basic baby care that you’ll need to know. You should have the opportunity to ask questions as well. It’s also very helpful to locate a pediatrician you feel comfortable with because they are a wealth of knowledge early on and later as your baby begins to do new things.

Again, it’s very normal to have worries about becoming a first-time parent. If you have any other questions about first-time parenting, ask your Adoption Specialist to help point you toward other helpful resources.