There’s nothing in adoption that evokes such joyous anticipation as getting The Call.
(That’s right: The Call. Capital T, Big C.)
There are lots of different kinds of calls in adoption. Like intake calls, when prospective adopters or prospective birthparents first call adoption agencies like Abrazo to get information.
Or check-in calls, when agencies call clients just to say “hey, wassup?” or “please do this” or “please don’t do that.” There are introductory calls, when prospective birthparents first speak with potential adoptive parents, and vice versa. Or match calls, when adoptive parents first hear that they’ve been chosen to match with someone who is planning to place. And touching-base calls along the way.
But then there is The Call. This is the moment every hopeful adoptive family imagines and dreams of, when you get the call that seemingly changes everything for the better.
“The baby’s here! You’re needed now. It’s really happening.“
And just like that, the landscape of someone’s life gets forever altered in the nicest of ways.
How It Feels
What goes through a prospective adoptive parent’s mind when they get The Call?
Most adoptive parents would tell you it’s as if a tsunami of emotions strike, all at once. They’re stunned. Excited. Anxious. Overwhelmed. (And then some.) Some people cry. Others scream. Sometimes, folks just respond with stunned silence, as they slowly process what this means.
For Catherine, The Call was like she was watching a movie of her life. Nothing seemed real after she heard the words “the baby.” She says it was as if the people in the office around her were all moving in slow motion.
For Richard, who was in an airport and who got The Call when his wife, a schoolteacher, wasn’t answering the agency’s calls, “I wanted to run up to complete strangers and tell everybody I was about to be a dad!”
For Marcus & Cynthia, The Call evoked very different emotions. “Cynthia couldn’t stop crying, but I was in manic mode. I was grabbing suitcases out of the closets and throwing everything I could think of in them to get us packed to go to Texas on a moment’s notice,” is how Marcus remembers it.
Different for Everyone
Single mom Beverly said that for her, The Call was very sobering. “After I hung up, all I could think of was the baby’s mom and what she must be feeling. I felt really responsible for her, as well as the baby. And I was worried about measuring up to her expectations.”
For Colin, The Call was secretly frightening. “All I could think was, oh, boy, are we really ready for this? I would’ve never told you guys at the agency this, but I was pretty freaked out by it all.”
Whatever you feel, it’s okay! No matter how long anyone waits, getting The Call is a sign that the Universe believes you are ready for change, and that somebody (a placing parent and an adoption professional) agrees.
What To Do
When you get The Call, you’re unlikely to remember most of the details, so write down whatever notes you can. Whomever is calling you may not have all the stats yet, but be sure to ask “how is the mom doing?” and “what can you tell me about the baby?” Most adoption professionals will try to have at least basic info, like the date and time of the birth, the baby’s gender, weight, length and APGAR scores.
The first thing you’ll want to do, if you’re able, is to speak with the baby’s mother, whether she’s still in the hospital or already home. This is an overwhelming time for her, too, undoubtedly. Be sure to be sensitive to what she’s feeling and what she needs from you. Assure her that you appreciate her faith in you and that you’ll be there for her in any way you can be. (Ask your adoption professional send her flowers on your behalf. Just say how you want the card to read, and what you’d like to send/spend.)
Next, you’ll want to make your plans to get to wherever the baby is. If you’re traveling from out-of-state, your adoption professional will likely need you there ASAP. Book a flight! Pack your bags and your car seat. Grab a checkbook with your insurance cards and any medications you may need. And kennel your pets if need be? Because if you’re not in-state, Interstate Compact may keep you in the state of the birth for 7-10 days or more.
What to Pack
You’ll want to pack a bag for the baby, too, but remember that anything you forget, you can buy later, wherever you’ll be staying. So what do you pack for a baby you’ve never even met, yet? Here are the basics: 5 onesies, 3 baby nighties, one hooded towel, 7 layette blankets (the thin ones,) 7 pairs of baby socks, a small pack of baby toiletries, a baby carrier or sling, and one heavier baby blanket. (Note: anything that’s going to touch the baby’s skin should be washed in baby detergent first.)
Diapers, formula, bottles and pacifiers can be purchased once the nursery staff advises you of the baby’s needs and preferences. (Most hospitals will provide a supply to last you the first day or so.) If you don’t have a head insert for the baby’s seat, fashion one out of a rolled baby blanket. You probably won’t need things like a stroller, although you may want to bring a pack-n-play or porta-crib. Be sure to bring your own cleanly-washed baby sheets, if you’re borrowing one from a hotel or from the agency.
Have a friend or relative to handle sharing the news about your travel plans with others. You need to be free to focus on your baby and his or her birthparents without distraction. (Please remind friends not to post well-wishes on your social media pages until after placement’s been done.)
The Call will surely be one of the parts of your adoption journey that you’ll remember always! (Even if you struggle later to remember exactly what got said, during the phone call that changed everything forever?)