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U.S. Newborn Waiting Parents

When to set up the nursery

Hi Everyone,
My husband and I are new to the adoption process.  We received our finalized home study in August, registered with agencies in September and we have already had 3 Birth Mom opportunities, the latest of which we are waiting to see if she has chosen us.  The room across from our bedroom has been designated the nursery ever since we built our house and moved in four years ago.  It’s painted a pale yellow and is just waiting for all the baby furniture to be set up.  Currently we have been using it as a guest bedroom.  We have been through so much over the last 3 years… multiple IVF treatments which resulted in miscarriages… the death of my precious 3 month old nephew this past February.  When we were going through fertility treatments, we would buy a little outfit or toy to put in the nursery.  Ever since we decided to stop the fertility treatments and move towards adoption I have been scared to start thinking about the nursery… the furniture, color, etc.  I have family members that tell me repeatedly not to start doing anything because it might now work out for us.  At the same time that we are starting this process, my sister-in-law is expecting her daughter in January, so she is always talking to me about the nursery, baby gear etc. And I am currently planning her baby shower.  When is it going to be my turn?  I would like some advice on when others started setting up their nursery.  I have dreamed for years about being able to decorate my nursery for my child.  I feel helpless just sitting around waiting.  A part of me feels like if I could just set up the nursery, then I would at least have something to look at and believe and hope for.


I waited until I was officially matched with my son before buying anything major for his nursery. However, I did do a baby registry through Babies R Us while I was in the waiting to be matched process. That made me feel like something was going to happen sooner rather than later. Hope this helps and good luck!

Posted by tanyalin on Oct 24, 2013 at 6:17am

I’m sorry to hear of the loss of a baby in your family. I can’t imagine the pain.

This process is so tough and unpredictable. If you (and me and so many others) experienced pregnancy we’d know exactly when our baby would be born. Sadly, that is not to case so we have to figure out how best to enjoy the process of planning and anticipating the new arrival, while at the same time protecting ourselves from the hurt, disappointment and pain that comes with a failed match or no match at all.

Everyone is different in how they cope with the uncertainty of adoption. Some of the women on this blog decorated the nursery as a way to overcome the sadness they had experienced through years of infertility. The process of decorating helped them heal and feel hopeful about the future, and it also eased their anxiety about not being prepared.

For me, I didn’t do one bit of preparation until a month before the due date for our birth mom. I bought a 6-pack of onesies, two sleepers and a car seat, which was returnable. I kept the box at home.

I created a registry that I kept private and used a great social shopping site called to see what my friends recommended. I didn’t want to start asking questions and then have 20 questions directed at me.

The day the papers were signed I turned off the privacy setting on my registry and posted our first family picture on Facebook.

You’ll get through this and do the right thing for yourself and your spouse but remember to think through how you may feel in a variety of scenarios - failed match, no match, etc.

Good luck!

Posted by LeeLee on Oct 24, 2013 at 6:24am

I too have a room across the hall from mine which I hope will soon be home to a little baby girl (I was just chosen yesterday).  But, I’m going to wait to do anything until I am sure.

I have been through two failed adoptions, and each time was very very grateful that I did not go ahead and transition the room to into nursery too quickly. 

I wish you all the very best in your adoption journey, but if ever there were to be a hiccup, I think it is much easier to see a guest room across the hall rather than a nursery. 

And, then, when the time comes to really know for sure, it will be all the more exciting to actually finally create a nursery. 

Best of luck!

Posted by Maman on Oct 24, 2013 at 7:21am

Boy you have really been through a lot!  So sorry.

We just brought our little one home.  She is 8 weeks.  I wish I had done more for the nursery because right now I don’t feel like decorating or preparing.  I’m tired from sleepless nights and all I want to do is hold and love this one I’ve wanted so badly.  Sure she doesn’t know what it looks like or at least she doesn’t care but its one more thing for me to think about. 

So if I could have a redo on prep, I would have completed the nursery.  Had a few outfits washed and ready.  Bottle picked.  Diapers.  Research my formula.  Pacifiers.  Swaddle blankets. 

The one thing I did do to prep and it has been sooo useful is reading the happiest baby on the block.  She responds so well to all of his suggestions. 

I say do what you think is best…the rest will fall into place.

Posted by BB on Oct 24, 2013 at 7:57am

You should set up the nursery whenever you want to set up the nursery. smile

Before DS was born, his room was our “catch all room.” We were called about a woman who was in labor who might want to match with us. We couldn’t take that situation, but it made us realize that we could match at any time, and we wanted to be prepared. So, we cleaned out the room. We didn’t add furniture until after we had matched.

We had two failed matches before we adopted our DD. We actually set up the nursery about 7 months before she came home. Sometimes, it was nice that it was all done. Sometimes, it was just a reminder that she wasn’t here yet. Ultimately, I’m glad it was done for when she came home.

Posted by rredhead on Oct 24, 2013 at 9:07am

Wow, I just barely learned our home study will be completed by next month yet I have tons of stuff!!  Some of it was mandatory for the HS.  Honestly, looking at all the baby stuff, crib, clothing, blankets, etc has helped me through the waiting. But everyone is different, do what works for you.  Congratulations!

Posted by mumstheword on Oct 24, 2013 at 12:25pm

We have been setting up the nursery ever since our home study was completed in July.  Like one of the posters above, we were given the opportunity to match with women who had either just given birth or who were going into labor so we knew it was important to at least have the room painted and get the bare necessities since we could receive a baby at any moment.  We are now matched with a lovely young woman who is due this winter.  We have nearly everything we need except for a crib and car seat.  I would say you should do whatever YOU want. If it excites you to do it now (the way it does for me) then do it.  If you are worried about failed matches and how you’ll feel seeing the nursery set up, then don’t do it.  But I personally would rather experience all the joy leading up to the birth even though there is a possibility things won’t work out.  I live in hope, not fear, because I trust God has a plan for me no matter what happens.

Posted by Diana B on Oct 24, 2013 at 2:05pm

Thank you everyone for your replies.  It’s comforting to know that I’m not alone going through this struggle. Update:  We just received notice that the birth mom did not choose us.  Sigh. 

Diana B… I love the last couple of sentences in your response:  “But I personally would rather experience all the joy leading up to the birth even though there is a possibility things won’t work out.  I live in hope, not fear, because I trust God has a plan for me no matter what happens.”  It’s exactly what I need to remember.. to live in hope and not fear.  And to trust God to put us on the right path, whatever that might be.  Thanks for the reminder!  smile

Posted by ladybug2798 on Oct 24, 2013 at 2:21pm

Diana B is right. That was my motto while we waited. I had a ring that had Faith on the outside and on the inside it said walk by faith, not by sight. And that truly is an explanation of the adoption process.  Nothing goes as planned or when you plan it. We did not set up the nursery only because we were converting an open space into a room. So our daughter did not have her own room until she was 3 months old! BUT, I did allow myself during that wait time to buy something and put it away if I loved it. The chandelier that went in her room, the bedding, a soft doll, a beautiful dress. (We were gender specific so I knew I could buy girl things.) I researched diaper bags and strollers because it made me feel like I was doing something. If having that nursery set up across from your bedroom makes you feel like you are putting your trust in God and that soon enough there will be a baby in that room, then do it. You may find it to be your new favorite place to be. If not, we set up a bassinet in our bedroom. I had a few sleepers, stuffed animal, and blanket in there and it reminded me that God hears my prayers and he would answer them. Good luck to you! I pray your baby is finding his or her way to you very soon!!

Posted by MotheringBoys on Oct 24, 2013 at 7:42pm

I did not buy anything for our DD until TPR was done and we were home. But that was just me. Good luck. Hope your wait is over soon.

Posted by blumoon1919 on Oct 24, 2013 at 9:17pm

I think you have to do what works for you.  I know the sight of a finished nursery is upsetting for some people while waiting to be matched, but I have enjoyed fixing up the nursery for the baby that we will have some day.  We’ve bought a lot of gender-neutral clothing items, blankets, etc. and we began fixing up the nursery once our home study was complete.  We decorated in a color scheme that would work for a boy or a girl.  It was really helpful for me to paint, choose furniture, plan the decor, etc. knowing that we would use it at SOME point. That’s just my personality, though.

Posted by ArizonaGirl on Oct 24, 2013 at 11:11pm

We started this after we were matched.  We knew it was a girl but we did kind of a gender neutral thing. 

It really is a personality thing…I was “paranoid” about doing a nursery even after the match…I think IF had me always expecting the worst!

The one “fun” part about it was having our friend come over to paint the nursery.  While he and DH were painting, I was drinking a big margarita.  Friend asked why we were painting the spare room yellow and DH said, “We’re having a baby!”  My friend kept looking at my margarita…haha…until we explained more.

Do what’s right for you!

Posted by mamallama on Oct 26, 2013 at 12:28am

We decorated a gender-neutral nursery after we were matched with an expectant mother (she was expecting a boy). We knew that nothing was certain until papers were signed, so we kept things neutral but bought a few items of boy clothing. As it turned out, the mom decided to parent her son (I had our social worker give her the boy clothes that we bought because it was a bit too painful to have those around).

Two months later, we were home with our daughter! So, we were very glad that we’d set up the nursery early on, because we would have been too overwhelmed and exhausted to do it after the baby came home. It’s also good that we kept to the gender-neutral scheme even though we were matched with a woman carrying a boy.

Do whatever feels right to you. Nesting is good. And best of luck to you.

Posted by zippity on Oct 26, 2013 at 2:21am

 I had nothing before my daughter’s birth. Not one thing.  And I didn’t regret it one bit. But then again she won’t have her own room until my stepdaughter graduates from high school next year. 
   Maybe I’m unusually frugal, but for me the stuff wasn’t that important. I actually loved how little we had when I brought her home- we created her world with her in it, as we needed things, and she was of course the biggest part of it.  A newborn doesn’t really need that much,  and I think I might have been overwhelmed with lots of gear. I think I would have done it pretty similarly if I’d carried her, except that I’d have had a baby shower sooner for sure, and certainly had a few diapers and onesies and swaddlers ready! 
   I think spending time researching and creating a registry really does help, though. I had a registry at Target, which was fantastic because we could exchange things we ended up not needing for anything in the store. I did in fact not need some things I thought I would and vice versa. You can spend a lot of money and discover- only through experience - you didn’t need half of it. But I’m a minimalist anyway; i just wanted to throw that perspective in.  
  That said, I can see how having a nursery waiting could feel like a sign of faith. Like saying - even if THIS baby doesn’t become yours, you believe in your heart that you will eventually get the baby that was meant for you. 

Posted by Lindsaybambini on Oct 27, 2013 at 1:24am

I love to go in our nursery to read and pray for my child and his or hers birth family. Our child may not be born yet but God knows who that mom and dad is and they are making the hardest desisions right now. We decorated yellow and grey with a bird theme. My sister handed her baby furniture down and my dad made the dresser and night stand. I find our jersey very peaceful and calm.
It’ is so nice to baby sit and be ready with everything. Our friends and family have blessed us with so much with handy downs , that we are 100% ready other then car seat. Now for the phone to ring!

Posted by Waitingmomma on Oct 27, 2013 at 9:52am

Wonderful suggestions so far, and I completely agree that you should do exactly what feels best for you. smile

Personally, I found that buying things for a “someday” baby was emotionally healthier than buying things for a baby we were matched with. Not sure that makes sense or not. LOL. We had two failed matches, and the first match happened very quickly after our homestudy was completed. I was buying things for a nursery, thinking of the particular situation we were matched with. How could I not? When the match failed, I had to give away almost everything: the crib, the stuffed animals, the clothes. It was too painful. Then we had a long wait—over a year to our second match. UGH! During that time, I started buying a few things…eventually we bought a nice bassinet, some decorations, etc. When we had a second match, we could show them to the expectant mom. She wanted to get a sense of where the baby would be staying. When THAT match failed, I did not feel so horrible looking at the nursery items. Maybe I had just protected myself better, but I also think it helped that I had bought the things for our someday baby and not had any expectations of when s/he was coming.

Our daughter was two weeks old when we got the call about her. We rushed 8 hours to meet her and her birth family, and on the way out the door I snapped some pics of the small nursery space we had set up. Birth parents loved those pics (which I showed them on my phone!). Again, I think it helped them to see where she would be sleeping.

Anyway, that’s my overly-long story of how we sort of decorated our nursery while waiting. heehee.

Hugs to you and your family after all you’ve been through.


Posted by Celestial_one on Oct 28, 2013 at 7:41am

We are waiting and likely won’t know ahead of time.  We have setup (most of) the nursery but set it up in neutral colors (green - decorating with giraffes) so that we will be prepared for either.

Posted by bamabelle1982 on Oct 28, 2013 at 8:54pm

I am so sorry about your nephew. What heartbreak. Risks are inherent in adoption and parenting, so I say do whatever makes you feel good and don’t worry about what others think. I can absolutely feel your grief and anticipation and excitement in your post! Adoption is so emotionally complex. I wrote a two-part article as a guest post for Patty Lazarus (author of the book March Into My Heart and the blog Child-Drenched) titled “Building a Nest” that I think you might like. Here are the links.

By the way, both the mothers (my friend Tobi and I) have full nests now, but we know precisely how you feel!

God Bless you and your family and your baby that is most certainly on the way!!!

Posted by Jody Cantrell Dyer on Oct 28, 2013 at 11:36pm

For our first adoption, we waited until being matched.  Until then, the room has my husband’s office, so we moved furniture and repainted everything after the match (we had 6 weeks notice).  We already had the furniture from my sister, but it wasn’t set up. 

We are now going for #2.  While the wait is easier, I still can’t bring myself to designate the room for new baby and set it up.  A part of me still is saying, “but what if we don’t get picked?”  It won’t feel real until we are matched.  And if we get called with little notice, we already have the stuff from #1, and we can run to the store for diapers and formula.

Posted by Wannabe2 on Oct 30, 2013 at 12:28am

My compromise was to buy things and put them away.  We had a borrowed crib, a car seat, some clothes and tons of books.  I loved looking through my stash while waiting, but was glad I didn’t set it up early on.  As a previous poster said, you really don’t need that much stuff; a car seat, some outfits, a crib or bassinet, that is about it.  We had good friends who had a baby the year before our oldest was born, and they loaned us tons of stuff (swing, bouncy seat, walker, another swing, etc).  Do not go crazy buying that stuff, try to borrow (or buy used), they out grow that stuff so quickly.

One day my husband said to me “you should get to enjoy the process”.  So, when we matched, I washed the clothes and set up the crib in my husband’s office. We did have failed matches, but my son was sleeping in that crib three months later.  Five years ago I thought I would never be a mom, now I am mom to three children (4, 2, &1), I am happy and exhausted.  There was heartache, but when I look at my kids, I wouldn’t change a thing.  Do what feels right to you, and good luck on your journey.

Posted by jszmom on Oct 31, 2013 at 5:34am

After battles with infertility issues I was once lucky enough to get pregnant. My husband was so excited that one day he painted our office and began to make it look like a nursery as a surprise for me. Unfortunately, I had a miscarriage and now everyday I look at a room that was once office but now looks more like a nursery. We are the last to have children amongst our friends but that hasn’t stopped them from giving us tons of baby clothes and today my best friend called to say her neighbor was giving away a really nice crib. So, we just take the items people have been nice enough to give us and put them on the shelf in the garage. We know one day all of these items will come in handy but for now, it’s best they are put away, it makes it a little easier then looking at them all put together but everyone is different, you have to do what makes you feel comfortable.

Posted by ReadyToAdoptCA on Oct 31, 2013 at 7:35am

Before expecting a baby, we should prepare for baby products and baby nursery. A nursery is the only place of our house where; we used to keep essential baby products for our baby. Therefore from the beginning, we used to collect different types of baby products to prepare a suitable nursery. Here also we can get some essential tips on what kinds of products we should keep in our nursery. There is no suitable time to prepare a nursery, most of the parents are starting in the very early stage after pregnant. Daily Baby Deals

Posted by iankelley on Dec 02, 2016 at 11:41am

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