The first time I gave serious thought to what we were going to do with our child while we were at work was after we had finally finished all our adoption paperwork. There wasn’t a lot to do at that point but wait around, so I found other projects to keep me occupied.
We first considered hiring a nanny since we knew we eventually wanted to have more than one child. It can work out to be cheaper in the end to have a nanny, but what happens when they get sick, or go on vacation, or decide to leave for another family? I wanted something more stable than that, and I wanted my kids to be around other kids. Sure, you can have your nanny take the kids to classes and play dates, but that seemed like so much trouble and expense to set up when daycare had everything I wanted.
A year is a really long time to wait.
We live in a nice area where there are lots and lots of good daycares, but they are all expensive and have huge wait lists of at least a year. We narrowed our choices to the ones where we would get priority on the wait lists because of where we work, and that brought it down to 3 that had great reputations and were near where we live and work. None would do tours until you got off the wait list, so after sending the wait list applications, we waited some more.
One of the centers (that has since changed management at least once and may now be better) was just plain rude whenever I called them. We never did hear back from them about our application.
The other center was busy but friendly and helpful — and even better: responded to email.
Can you say “adoption-friendly”? They couldn’t.
The third center was very new and quite corporate — the application check even needed to be written to “Corporate Headquarters” for the conglomerate that runs lots of these facilities. I usually referred to it as the Stepford Center where all babies will behave. Or else.
All the wait list applications we filled out asked for ‘baby’s due date’ — but we didn’t have a due date as we were adopting. We hadn’t yet been matched with a birth mother, and in fact our adoption turned out to be one of those “a baby was just born, hurry come get him tomorrow” surprise situations. Other centers just told us to call when our baby was born and they’d work something out.
But we don’t want to be assimilated.
The Stepford Center was completely inflexible and unable to deal with what they called our “special case”. They required a due date, and told me that this was the first time an adopted child would be in one of their centers. Wow. First of all, that’s impossible. Unless they treated all adoptive parents like they treated me. Then I’d believe it. Long story short, I told them to cancel our application.
We got into the second center about a year after we applied, and when our baby, Mike, was about 6 months old. By then we had cobbled together a schedule where my husband and I would alternate days working at home. My teen aged sister also stayed with Mike many afternoons. We were very fortunate to have been able to rely on various family members and our great, flexible bosses, but getting Mike into reliable daycare was a big relief.
Clearly this is the way it was meant to be for us.
All three of our kids are still there — they have a great preschool too — and we love it. The kids are happy, well cared for, entertained and challenged. The teachers are there because they love kids and they love teaching.
We have them in daycare Monday – Friday until 12:30 and then afternoons they are home with me or my husband. It is the best of both worlds. They get lots of stimulation and exposure to activities we don’t do at home, and then they get to see a lot of their parents in the afternoon. We are incredibly fortunate to have flexible bosses as well as a daycare that has a mornings-only option.