Over the years, you might have pursued many options in the hope of having a family of your own, only to find yourself here—considering adoption. Or perhaps you have always felt adoption was going to be part of your family. Either way, entering the adoption process can be stressful on a marriage.

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, so we would like to suggest a few things you and your spouse might find helpful in keeping your relationship grounded, your perspective healthy, and your course clear as you follow the adoption path.

Know your why

First, it is important for you and your spouse to know why you are pursuing the path of adoption. True, you might have different reasons for pursuing adoption, but knowing the why will help you stay motivated, even when things may start to veer off the path you imagined. Moreover, it will help you make the decisions that are right for you and your relationship. Knowing your why will help eliminate stress, promote your family goals, and unify your hopes and dreams.

Get the facts; do your research.

It’s important that you find a reputable company, who sets realistic expectations in regards to what the process may look like, how long it takes, and what resources are at your disposal. Knowing what to expect will help you decrease your stress and worry, and having a genuine timeline will allow you to prepare and plan for what is ahead.

Surround yourself with encouragers. 

Positive people can be a godsend when you are in the throes of doing something new. Because no matter how excited you are about the prospect of adoption, there is always that little voice that says, “Are you sure you are doing the right thing?” Sometimes, just someone asking the question can throw one into a tail spin. You and your spouse should surround yourself with people who: respect your choice, support your decision, and positively encourage you to move forward.

Light up your life. 

You can benefit from being both a mentee and a mentor. People who have already travelled the path you are on, and can be a great resource to you as you navigate the road to adoption. Additionally, you can become a mentor to others who follow in your footsteps. You’ll become part of a unique group of individuals who have loved beyond themselves and embraced another with open arms. There is a host of great resources out there that will inspire you and excite you about the possibilities that await you.

Every adoption (and relationship) is unique.

Do not compare your adoption with that of another family, or another couple’s marriage to your own. Comparing ourselves with other people can mess with our emotions, produce unhealthy mindsets, and can make us discontent. Making what should be a joyful time, full of hope and excitement, into a sad, often painful, disappointing experience. You need to remember; your knowledge of other families and the circumstances of their adoption is limited. No two relationships are alike, they are all unique; so, don’t play the comparison game, instead enjoy the moment.

The marriage relationship is important.

You are excited. You cannot wait until your child is finally here. That is all you have been thinking about for months. But, remember, you and your spouse’s relationship are just as important as the life you are about to bring home.

When you are on an airplane, the flight attendants remind you, “Put your oxygen mask on first, before assisting someone else.” Why? Because only those who have taken care of themselves are able to help someone else. Unless you work on feeling good spiritually, mentally, emotionally, intellectually, and physically you may find yourself tired, distracted, stressed, drained, and out of control.

Be sure to invest time, both in yourselves and as a couple. Sharing your thoughts with one another is an important part of intimacy. You are in this life together so be one another’s confidantes and cheer each other on. Enjoy your time together and build one another up, as it will help reinforce your marriage and create a positive footing as you move into parenthood.

Trust the process.

Don’t let doubt set in and mess with the joy you are about to experience. It is natural to sometimes second guess ourselves, or those helping us; but don not let curve balls, such as timeline delays, long home study checklists, or paperwork issues rob you of what is truly important.

True, you might have to wait for a moment receive your match, or wait for your fertility clinic to approve the embryos on your behalf. But when it happens, all those things fade in comparison to the joy you now feel. And at the end of the day, your heart will remind you—it was all worth it!

To learn more about embryo donation and adoption, visit EmbryoAdoption.org.