National adoption month series: choosing daycare

By Renata Sledge

While preparing for the birth of our daughter, my husband and I experienced the same exciting planning that all new parents do; what should we name her, how should we decorate the nursery, will she sleep in our room, will we make her food, should we find a day care and if so, which one?

One month to prepare for a new baby

Our experience was different from many parents in one crucial way, we had less than one month to decide all of this as our family has grown through adoption.  On one hand we need to prepare and “nest” as an appropriate developmental response to parenting, on the other, we have an attorney and social worker encouraging us to “nest carefully” in case something changes.

Calling day cares…

In preparation for Clara’s birth, I called several day cares in our community.  I asked to tour several and identified the facilities that matched my expectation for day care (as Deborah’s niece, my expectations are quite high).

Unfortunately, as I was not pregnant and we could not predict an unexpected birth, we were not able to be placed on a wait list at any facility.  Adoption, by its nature, is full of surprises, we could not plan and therefore, waitlists were not appropriate.  This was my first (though in hindsight very obvious) clue that our first year in day care will be different from the experience of my friends.

After Clara was born and we decided that we would use a day care, we started calling centers again.  I was surprised by some of the responses of the centers.  One provider actually laughed when I told her the date we needed saying, “Honey, you have to plan for these things.”  I thanked her and crossed her off my list (and several lists of my friends).  It became clear my “ideal” for day care was not going happen; at least for the first year.

Adoption challenges parents to be very flexible and public in the very private decision of growing a family.  I was surprised that yet another way I would have to be flexible and reconsider my goals was with childcare.  Ultimately, we found a provider that gave what we believed Clara needed for the moment, and continued to look for our ideal center.

What child care centers can consider…

I have listed below some things a center can consider when a family growing through adoption calls:

  1. Consider modifying waitlists in such a way to be friendly to families who grow through adoption.
  2. Most employers do not provide leave for adoption which means some families will have to think and act quickly.
  3. There are many types of adoption and adoption experiences (domestic, international/intercountry, open, closed, foster, family).  Each experience is different so it is best to ask questions rather than assume.
  4. In many cases, the child will not have a birth certificate, social security card or even final adoption decree.  (Review state regulations for required documentation).
To learn more about National Adoption Awareness Month please see the resources over at National Adoption Month 

Are you a working parent seeking adoption?

To learn more about employee benefits and rights for parents who adopt see the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.

First post in this series: Adoption is Mysterious and Miraculous 

Next up: Parent/Teacher Talk


  1. says

    Thanks for this post, for bringing up adoptive families and the concerns that affect them! I am thrilled for your niece and their little girl.

  2. says

    Very nice information! I think it’s crazy a provider would treat you in such a manner… Even when I was pregnant I didn’t start contacting centers until after my son arrived as we didn’t think we needed it at first.

    Great tips for providers to think about though as many (especially if corporate run) get stuck in the policies and procedures of running a center. The only documentation required in Michigan is a physical and imms and a signed emergency card. To cover your behind the documentation of legal custody is helpful in case someone else tries to claim and pick up the child.

  3. says

    how could a provider do that? a parent is a parent, if the child is born from the body or the heart they are a child of that parent. i work with any parent. if it is an adoption i will move that child on the waiting list until he/she arrives.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. says

      I don’t think it is intentional so much as not understanding the predicament families of adoption are placed in. I am hoping that by sharing some of my nieces experiences, early childhood folks will have a new perspective or at least better understanding of the things we all can do to make things easier and more accessible for parents of adoption.

  4. says

    what an inspiring post. it puts a blemish on the reputation of providers everywhere that she would be treated that way. but still, so touching. thank you, deborah, for sharing such a wonderful post.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. says

      Well one thing my niece doesn’t want any one to think is that she is trying to blemish or tarnish the early childhood field. Quite the opposite actually. She values the field of early childhood education and hopes by sharing her experiences, she is helping enlighten those of us in this field:)

  5. Schedule5 says

    In South Africa, adoptive moms (possibly only for infants) get the same legislated maternity leave as someone who gives birth – 4 months. Employers are obliged to provide the leave and allow the woman to return to work after that time. Payment is not obligatory. I didn’t realise it wasn’t the same in other places.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. says

      I personally don’t know what the laws are here Stacey, but I am glad to see there are some laws in place there designed to support families in adoption.