The anticipation overwhelms your emotions. The phone call is like a blur after hearing, “It’s time!” As you travel, excitement grows to meet the sweet baby you have been expecting, preparing, and praying for the past months. You finally arrive to see those precious baby blues or big brown eyes, only to feel a love that is unexplainable. You now want to share your joy with those near and far as you celebrate the birth of your newest blessing. The speed with which you arrived at the hospital has now been met with a new idea: to hurry up and wait.
When you work with a national adoption agency like American Adoptions, most domestic adoptions will take place in a state other than the one in which you reside. Because each state’s adoption laws differ, the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) must be enacted. ICPC becomes the mediator to merge the two states’ laws for your adoption. This administrative process between the states will take an average of seven to ten business days to complete, which means you could be staying in your baby’s birth state about two weeks or sometimes longer before you are allowed to return to your home state with your new baby.
More than likely, you will be staying in a hotel, condo, rental property, or if you’re lucky, you have a family member or friend nearby that will host your family as you wait out the ICPC process. You will be displaced from the comforts of your own home for two to three weeks during the wait. Now what? What can you do in an unfamiliar place with a new baby until ICPC is completed? Lots or nothing at all. Here are some ideas.
Skin-to-skin connection is a great way for you and baby to bond. It’s as easy as it sounds: baby’s skin against your skin. Place diapered baby on your bare chest and cover up with a blanket to keep you both warm. Skin-to-skin care provides a host of health benefits for baby, including increased physical and emotional attachment with mom and dad. Other ways to bond include mom and dad taking turns feeding baby, talking or singing to baby so they recognize your voice, and rocking baby so they feel safe and secure.
Meet baby’s needs.
Babies definitely respond to bonding techniques, but these are solidified by knowing that you will promptly meet their needs. When baby is hungry, they get fed. When exhausted, they get put to sleep. They get changed when their diaper is dirty. Meeting baby’s needs in a timely and comforting manner will reaffirm their bond.
Visit a pediatrician.
When baby was born, a pediatrician came to the hospital to examine him/her before they could leave the hospital. Get the name of that pediatrician. Doctors normally want to see a newborn within the first week of being released from the hospital. They will make sure baby’s growth is consistent, no problems have arisen, and answer any questions you may have. You can still check in with your pediatrician at home when you return.
More than likely, your family and friends will not be able to travel with you. You will be surprised how quickly babies change, even in just the first few weeks. Take pictures of baby to remember and share with those friends and family members when you get home.
Visit baby’s birth state.
Do some research before you travel to pick up baby on some places that you may be able to see during your ICPC wait. Know that you probably won’t feel like toting a newborn and all their possessions on an arduous schedule of sightseeing. But the occasional trip out of the confines of the residence you are staying in will help everyone’s sanity. Take pictures if you go out!
Be available for birth mom.
If you are entering into an open adoption, be available to meet with your baby’s birth mom if she wishes.
Do your favorite things.
There’s no reason to wait ‘til you get home to introduce your new baby to your family’s favorite activities. If you’re close to the beach, sit under an umbrella on the sand. If spontaneous trips to Target are routine for your family, go shopping. If eating good food defines your family’s gatherings, find the best local restaurants to visit.
You cannot rush the ICPC timeline. So, be patient and enjoy your newest addition without the interruptions of everyday life.