217+ Things to Do While You’re Waiting To Adopt

What a difference a day makes.

The other day one of our waiting parents asked me to upgrade their profile package because they wanted more exposure.

I made the change and sent them a message letting them know the work had been done. When I didn’t hear back from them, I sent them a second email to make sure they got the message.

“We did receive the link,” they wrote earlier this week. “However we will not need to renew.  We were contacted by our agency that a birthmother chose us to be parents and the child was born yesterday and he will go home with us tomorrow.  Thanks for all you’ve done!”

It was the second time that I received a message like that in the last month.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about waiting for an adoption match, especially an open adoption match, it’s this:  things can change any time.  One day you’ll be ready to throw in the towel; the next day you’re changing diapers.

And when the baby arrives just in time for the holidays, it feels even more  magical.

But what if you’re like the majority of waiting parents, going into the holidays with empty arms? For you, the wait is more agonizing than ever.

It’s hard to enjoy the spirit of the season when everywhere around you people are celebrating with their children and you’re not.

But don’t make the mistake of writing off this time of the year. You need to keep going.

Putting your life on hold or going underground until the start of the New Year won’t help.

Instead, it could set back your adoption journey and have serious repercussions  — on your relationships with your family,  your friends, and especially with your partner. And if you’re not careful, on your health, too. 

To stay positive and healthy, you need to stay busy. Luckily, there’s plenty of down time during the holidays and no shortage of things to do.

Here are 217+ things you can do right now or any time of the year (weather permitting) to make the most of your wait.

The “+” denotes that this list is a work in progress. I’ll be adding new ideas as they come to me. I’d love to hear what works (or worked) for you. Share your thoughts any time on our Facebook page or by email.

Things for you

Waiting to adopt can undermine your confidence and make you question your self-worth. Here’s a list of simple things that you can do for yourself right now or at any time — to lift your spirits, replenish your soul, or just help you relax and find some peace of mind when you’re having a bad day.

Light a candle
Keep a journal
Sleep in
Read inspirational quotes
Take a yoga class
Eat chocolate (but not too much, you’ll regret it later)
Learn a language
Start a scrapbook
Spend the day in your PJs
Eat comfort food
Buy yourself a pair of shoes (more specifically, the ones you weren’t planning to get until after Boxing Day)
Say a prayer
Write a letter to yourself in the future
Read a novel
Sing a song (don’t worry if you do it badly; nobody will hear you anyway)
Take up an instrument
Have a good cry
Get your hair done
Paint a picture
Get dressed up (you don’t have to leave the house, but you get bonus points if you do)
Reconnect with someone you haven’t seen for a while
Watch a romantic comedy
Go through old photo albums
Bake a  cake
Surf celebrity websites
Refinish your furniture
Treat yourself to a banana split
Reupholster your couch
Deep clean your house
Organize the basement
Eat a bowl of ice cream
Clean out the garage (or, if you don’t feel like doing it, get your partner to do it)
Get crafty
Watch cartoons you used to watch as a kid
Make jam
Create a cookbook of family recipes
Exercise regularly (or at least as regularly as you can)
Learn how to draw
Squeeze a stress ball
Read magazines on the couch
Spend the day in your sweats
Cook dinner dishes to freeze for later
Get a massage
Cook something that reminds you of your childhood
Get a pedicure
Take a long hot bath (to make it even more relaxing, add bath salts, candles or bubble bath)
Get a manicure
Do a crossword puzzle
Make chocolate chip cookies (they don’t have to be homemade, a Pillsbury mix will do just fine)
Go shopping
Buy a bag of peanuts, popcorn or M&Ms and see how many you can catch in your mouth
Take a course
Pat your cat
Look up at the sun
Call up a friend
Buy a bird feeder and fill it with seeds
Put on some music and dance (again, with no one around, what do you have to lose?)
Swim laps at the community pool
Join a gym
Make a pot of green tea
Try aromatherapy
Turn off your phone
Start a DIY project
Begin a scrapbook
Try juggling (tip: clementines are a lot easier to catch than apples or oranges)
Look out the window
Walk the dog
Splash your face with water
Buy yourself a gift
Get the car dry cleaned
Go for a drive
Make funny faces in the bathroom mirror
Brush your hair
Treat yourself to a cup of chai
Disconnect your computer
Join a pottery class
Take a long shower
Buy a plant
Read inspirational cards at a card shop
Buy a good set of kitchen knives
Call up a friend out of the blue
Take a stroll downtown
Hop around the house on one leg (just make sure the blinds are drawn)
Get your fortune told
Create a bucket list (or update the one you have)
Re-visit some of the favorite places of your youth
Make a pot of chicken soup
Pull back all the curtains to let the sun in
Open the windows and air out the house

Things for you and your partner

Focusing all of your energy and attention on your adoption wait can cause your relationship to suffer. This section offers a range of activities that you and your partner can do together, on the spot or with a bit of planning, to help you re-connect and strengthen your relationship.

Go for a walk
Snuggle on the couch
Watch a movie marathon
Go out on a date
Start your own holiday tradition
Book a trip (somewhere warm, if you can swing it)
Build a snowman
Go skating
Trim the tree
Play a board game
Go skiing
Order in
Light a Hannukah candle
Hug for a very, very long time
Go toboganning
Buy holiday tchotchkas (even if you have way too many already)
Go out for hot chocolate
Make a snow angel
Visit a museum
Play cards
Go out for bunch
Adopt a dog or cat
Write your spouse a letter telling him how much you love and appreciate him
Go away for the weekend
Go window shopping
Play video games
Go out for a jog
Buy chips and dip
Go out for live music
Buy some tacky his-and-her tree ornaments (they’re easier to find than you think!)
Watch trashy TV shows
Go bowling
Kiss (a lot)
Go out for a movie
See a play
Enjoy a glass of wine in front of the fire
Get tickets to the Nutcracker
Watch a football game together (even if you hate football)
Return to the restaurant where you had your first date
Surprise your partner by cooking his favorite meal
Plan a vacation
Eat Rice Crispy squares
Sign up for dance classes
Book a reservation at a fancy restaurant
Visit friends you haven’t seen for a while
Go out for coffee
Decorate the house for the holidays
Drive out to the country
Visit an antique fair
Tell your partner how much you love him

Things for others

Adoption can be a long and lonely road. While you’re waiting, it’s easy to cut yourself off from the rest of the world or to feel isolated. These tips are designed to bring you back and help you become more engaged by reaching out to those less fortunate and making a difference.

Volunteer at a homeless shelter
Collect toys and clothes for needy children
Check in on an elderly neighbor
Look into becoming a foster parent
Spend time at a women’s shelter
Help out at the SPCA
Bake gingerbread cookies with your with nephews and nieces
Take your friend’s children out shopping
Spent time at a soup kitchen
Buy a gift for the mailman or garbage men
Donate your time to a senior’s home or hospital
Spend one-on-time time with your cousins
Hold the newest addition to your family
Take a child to a farm, zoo or aquarium
Take a little friend to the mall
Invite your niece out for tea
Shop for video games with your nephew
Do errands for your parents
Make a gingerbread house with your best friend’s children
Take a child out for a sundae
Buy presents for your friends and family members
Spend an afternoon at the park with a young neighbor

Things for your adoption journey

Just because it’s the holiday season doesn’t mean that your adoption journey has to take a break. This time of the year is a great opportunity to  look back on the past 12 months, assess what worked for you and what didn’t, and make changes to your adoption plan — particularly if you’re planning to have an open adoption — as you head into the New Year.

Research open adoption
Join an online discussion forum
Update your profile letter
Write a letter of thanks to your adoption worker, agency or attorney (showing gratitude is important, and so is staying top of mind)
Join an adoption support group
Explore other adoption networking tools
Improve your social networking tools
Call your adoption professionals to wish them the best of the seasons
Take new photos of yourself and your partner with your families and add them to your profile
Find inspiring adoption quotes and post them around the house
Share your story (it’s therapeutic, inspiring for others, and the extra exposure may even help you find a match)
Update your adoption professionals aout your whereabouts over the holidays (because you never know when a situation will come up)
Start an add campaign
Research other adoption agencies (especially those with no or minimal upfront fees)
Get your house ready for a baby
Learn what birthmothers are looking for
Explore paediatricians
Look for new parent groups
Check out baby names
Find out how other waiting parents are coping with the wait
Read child care books
Research car seats
Learn about birthmother grief
Prepare the nursery (but only if you’re up to it)
Look into the best places to buy bulk baby supplies (diapers, wipes, etc)
Take a First Aid or CPR class
Explore life books
Prepare your family, friends and employer for your baby’s arrival
Make a will
Read adoption books
Rewrite your profile letter
Create a profile video
Set up a photo shoot
Find out about the impact of open adoption on adoptees
Learn about the adoption tax credit
Optimize your Twitter profile
Get up to speed on the latest airline requirements (if you’re looking an an interstate placement)
Read birthmother blogs
Find out about post-adoption blues
Look into baby announcements
Think about insurance plans
Explore networking through Google+
Consider possible guardians for your child
Check out children’s activities in your community
Start a Pinterest page
Buy a better camera
Sew a sleeper
Put together questions to ask a prospective birthmother
Read birthfather blogs
Post your profile on Craigslist (if your state laws don’t prohibit it)
Learn more about independent adoption
Start a blog
Join Instagram
Create a website
Read about the unique challenges of adoptive parenting
Optimize your online profile for search engines
Include a pass-along card in all your holiday correspondence
Tell everyone you know that you’re adopting
Read adoption success stories
Read adoptive parent blogs
Find other free or cost-effective ways to spread the news about your adoption plans
Add social sharing buttons to your website
Create more pass-along cards
Read adoptee blogs
Start a college fund
Knit a sweater
Update your Facebook page
Look into strollers
Subscribe to a parenting magazine
Explore gently used children’s clothing stores
Learn about adoption openness
Prepare yourself for your first conversation with a prospective birthmother
Start a YouTube channel
Become an open adoption advocate

Looking for other things to do? Here are three more:
Read other stories on our blog
Like our Facebook page
Join our Parent Profiles page (because extra visibility can never hurt)