Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post by one of IAC’s waiting adoptive couples, Chris Hargrove and Troy Turnipseed.
As we continue to put ourselves, our life and our journey into the universe for a birthmother to connect with us through open adoption, we are taking advantage of the “wait time” and directing our energy towards the nursery. We made the decision that once we went “live,” we would start the process of turning an empty office into a nursery full of hope and love. For us, #projectnursery began this past Father’s Day – we thought it was the perfect day to take the next step and are hopeful we will be spending next Father’s Day as dads to our own little girl or boy.
Now that we are three months into #projectnursery, we thought it would be helpful to share the process of what went into putting our nursery together when waiting to adopt and unsure of the timeline and gender. To be clear, we are not experts – just two dads-to-be learning about everything baby, and trying to decipher what is best for our child and us. The following is our list, in no particular order, of things we have done and/or learned thus far:
- Research. Before really beginning anything to do with the nursery, we did a lot of online research and reading of blogs and articles around the topics of adoption and creating a nursery. What we found most helpful was reading what other adoptive parents did or did not do, which gave us insight into how to set up our expectations and manage our emotions both good and bad. Tip: Talk to friends and family who have already set-up a nursery to see what their “must-haves” were.
- Location. For us, this was fairly simple. When we bought our house a couple years ago, we knew having a family was in our future so we made sure we had some additional bedrooms. All of our bedrooms are located on the second floor and we chose our office to be transformed into the nursery. Tip: Pick the room closest to your bedroom so you don’t have too far to travel in the middle of the night.
- Flooring. We made the choice to remove the carpeting and replace it with bamboo flooring. Because it was a small room (10’x13’), it was not difficult and only took about a week of working on it in the evenings when we got home from work to finish. This also gave us the opportunity to add a rug for an additional pop of color. Tip: If you are going to change from carpet to hard flooring, look for the kind that doesn’t warp with moisture and one that snaps together for easy installation.
- Theme. This was probably the hardest part for us. We spent hours online looking at different nursery designs, colors, layouts, etc. It can become quite overwhelming. The positive – we have time. We didn’t have to rush into anything and could wait until we really found something we wanted. Initially, we thought we would go the alphabet route, but then we kept finding ourselves drawn to elephants. We both really like grey and knew that would be a good neutral color to be included, so from that point forward, elephants it was! We never really changed our mind after that. We were also set on using yellow and white as accent colors, as we had some curtains left over from another part of the house we could reuse. Tip: Do your research and visit some baby stores before deciding on anything – there are more possibilities out there than you can image. There are wall decals for everything!
- Paint. Painting was our downfall for sure. We couldn’t figure out how we wanted the walls painted – all one color, multiple colors, patterns, etc. Should we do wall decals, wallpaper or stencils? Again, there were so many choices, so it was back to the internet to do a search of ‘yellow and grey nursery’ and ‘elephant nursery’ to get ideas. It was a good thought, but we got anxious and while at the paint store, impulsively purchased paint colors that went against what we had originally selected. We had the grand idea to paint the ENTIRE room yellow and paint grey elephant stencils over it. We even painted the closet yellow! This was, hands down, the worst decision we made. Thankfully, clearer heads prevailed and we went back to a room idea we found online, selected some yellow and greys that went with the rest of our house and ended up doing simple sectioned-off lines of color. A good, interesting and simple wall that could be enhance by any theme. Tip: Make sure to pick colors that won’t keep your child up at night!
- Accent. Now that we had our flooring and painted walls set, it was time to think about adding some accents of theme. We don’t usually go too overboard with a theme and try to keep it simple, yet effective. Then, while making our first visit to buy buy BABY, we stumbled across everything elephant. Elephant blankets, lights, sheets, bottles, bibs, etc. But then we found it – they had the most perfect elephant wall decals. Simple, adorable and affordable. We weren’t sure what we were going to do with them, but we knew they were a must have. When we got home we initially thought they would go in the middle of the wall around the whole room, but it didn’t work. Finally it clicked to put them right above the baseboards in a family-like line in areas where we knew they wouldn’t be obstructed by furniture. It was perfect and it seems like a lot of other people agreed as the photo on our Facebook page has over 900 likes! Tip: Share each step of putting your nursery together on social media – it is a fun way to keep people engaged in your adoption journey.
- Furniture. We didn’t have any nursery furniture passed down through generations and we don’t have any little ones in the family that have out grown their nursery furniture yet, so we had to look at purchasing furniture. We went with clean lines and neutral look since we don’t know when it will be utilized. We also chose furniture that could grow with the child and met all the safety standards. However, our hunt for the perfect glider/rocker chair is still in progress. Tip: buy buy BABY takes a number of coupons, including Bed, Bath and Beyond. We were able to use a 20% off coupon for each piece of furniture.
- Accessories. This is our biggest temptation. Every time we are in a store, online or watching television we come across something we think would be super cute for the nursery. Stop yourself. Seriously – you don’t need everything you see and you don’t need to get it all now (we have to remind ourselves of that daily). Tip: Join Pinterest and create a “Nursery” board and every time you see something online or in a store that you like, pin it to the board – it saves what it is, where it is and how much it costs for you. Then, treat yourself to getting one thing a month for the nursery form that board (you can also add those items to your registry when the time comes).
- Books. The reading area that we are going to set-up in the nursery is one of our favorite components. Many families create an area like this and we have found a number of them we like online. We are excited about the idea of displaying books for not only the range of color, but accessibility and functionality. We actually have an IKEA opening in our area next week, so we are holding off until we get there to purchase the book shelves. Tip: Check out Amazon and order children’s books that specifically speak to your family dynamic – there are a number of great ones out there about adoption, same-sex parents, transracial and unique families to name a few.
- Love. Make sure you fill the room with love. From paint strokes to furniture assembly to nightlight selection, enjoy the journey. However you imagine your nursery, it is going to be special because you built it with love. Tip: Save a place in the nursery to include a picture of your child’s birthmother.
There are certainly many more things that can be added to the list above, but those are the highlights we have experienced during #projectnursery thus far. We have learned that everything doesn’t and won’t be perfect. We have learned to enjoy this part of the process. We can see that it has helped keep us positive about our adoption journey and we have enjoyed sharing that process with those around us. With that said, creating a nursery during the wait may not be the right decision for every family, but it was right for us. You’ll know when it’s right, and when that time comes, you will already have the most important tool to start – love.
Chris Hargrove and Troy Turnipseed live in St. Louis, Missouri. They are hoping to adopt their first child soon. To learn more about Chris and Troy, visit: http://www.iheartadoption.org/users/chrisandtroyadopt