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The First Thing You Should Do After Your Home Study Is Approved

The First Thing You Should Do After Your Home Study Is Approved

Jessica Butler
The First Thing You Should Do After Your Homestudy Is Approved, Raise Magazine

Learn from my mistake, I beg you.

Many adoption professionals advise families to refrain from decorating a nursery or buying baby gear until after the baby is born. Adoption timelines vary, and it can be heart breaking for waiting parents to walk past an empty nursery day after day after week after month. Even if you are matched with an expectant family, minds can change in the hospital.

When we decided to pursue adoption, I bought one single outfit – a unisex Batman onesie – and tucked it away in the back of our closet. But based on the advice I received, I hesitated to let myself think any further ahead. Even after we matched, no more onesies. No nursery. No names.

Learn from my mistake, I beg you.

Levon was born three days after we matched, and although his premature birth was unexpected, I would have made (or rather, not made) all of the same decisions had he been born 10 weeks later on his due date.

As soon as your home study is approved and your profile is live, do yourself a favor and pick a name for your baby. Pick several.

I understand it may seem impossible when you don’t even know what skin color your child will have. How are you to name someone when you have absolutely no idea what they will look like? (Unless you are one of those people that choose a name based on a meaning or a poem; a name that works for all genders and humans and fur babies. Good for you. It’s sure to be weird and hard to pronounce, but good for you.)

Levon spent over a week without a name. While lots of parents wait to name their children until they are born, most parents are not also navigating the uncertainty of adoption. Between coordinating the logistics of Levon’s adoption, spending 15 hours a day in the NICU, and remembering to eat, I had no bandwidth left to choose a name for him.

The nurses tried out new names every day to see if anything stuck. I hated them all. Levon looked more like a tiny bird than a baby, and so for several days we called him Birdie (as in Conrad), until they wheeled in a fellow preemie who was actually named Conrad and parked his incubator next to Levon’s.

To be fair, my husband did pick a name early in the process. He pitched “Levon,” and I immediately vetoed it. “It sounds like an old man’s name.” But after I failed to come up with any alternatives, I caved. Anything to avoid my husband’s second choice: Mike Trout Bell.

“We’re naming him Levon,” I told my mother.

“What’s his middle name?”

“YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME.”

Levon Butler Bell, I have come to truly love your name. I hope you love it too. If you don’t, blame your father.

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