Most adoptive parents plan to take a brief leave from work during the first few weeks after the arrival of their child. Many international adoptive parents spend several weeks in-country so their bonding time is spent there, and some companies offer paternity/maternity leave for adoptions. However, after the first initial weeks, whether or not adoptive parents should become stay-at-home parents is widely debated.
Most of the concerns about stay-at-home parenting revolve around career issues, financial concerns, isolation and personal worth issues. Can a parent regain momentum in their career if they put it off for a year or two? Does the family have the financial means for one parent to stay at home, and how does a stay-at-home parent keep from getting lonely without the intellectual stimulation of coworkers? How long parents will stay home from work after the adoption is usually discussed in the home study, and your social worker will be able to answer any question you have about the finances of adoption.
As far as financial issues go, some families may find that it’s less expensive to have one parent stay at home rather than pay for daycare. On the other hand, some families need a second income. A great way to understand your financial reality and whether or not you can live on one income is to actually do it. Do your best to live entirely on one income during the year or two before your child arrives and carefully save your second income during this time.
Some tips for managing the loss of your second income include:
- Cutting corners – Cut down on unnecessary spending by paring down your cable or internet bills, by using coupons, or downsizing to a less expensive car.
- Change your habits – Instead of grabbing a bite from the nearest fast food restaurant for lunch, brown bag your lunch. Consider carpooling or using public transportation to save gas.
- Explore ways to earn income while you are at home with your child – Could what you’re doing be done just as easily from a home office? Would your employer allow you to Skype into meetings? Could you start a small home-based business where you sell cupcakes? With advances in technology, working from home has become much easier.
Parents who choose to stay at home find that even though they love being with their children, it is easy to become isolated as a stay-at-home parent. Parents who experience isolation are at risk of developing depression. Instead of staying at home all day, do something to get out. Take your child to the library or to the park. Schedule a playdate with other children. Consider joining a study group or a gym that offers child care. You might even take an evening class or work on a degree or license!
Whatever your decision, it’s important not to feel guilty. While there are a lot of people who will tell you the merits about staying at home for a year, what you do should depend on what your child needs. Your family is unique. What worked for some, may not work for you. If you’re in need of guidance about any post-adoption issue, please don’t hesitate to call us any time at our Mississippi Office 1.662.842.6752 or at our Tennessee Office 1.615.378.7099.