Adding a new child to the family is an exciting time. Since finalizing our adoption last week, our lives have been filled with congratulatory phone calls, celebrations, and a general merry atmosphere. We were so focused on settling in at home after our trip out of state for the finalization, that I almost forgot some important things. A voicemail from our life insurance agent, wishing me an early happy birthday, reminded me that we have some important things to take care of in the near future.

What will we need to do? The same basic things all new parents need to do. Make sure our child is provided for both legally and financially.

Obtain Legal Documentation

When a new baby is born at a hospital, obtaining a birth certificate and social security number is a straightforward process. The hospital will generally give you the forms you need to sign, and they will take care of submitting the forms. A few weeks later, your child’s birth certificate and social security number will arrive in the mail.

In the case of an adoption or home birth, the parents must make sure forms are filled out and submitted to the proper authorities. In an adoption, the court will take care of the new birth certificate, but the process can be long. We were told to expect a 4 to 12 month wait before our daughter’s new birth certificate arrives.

Obtaining a social security number is extremely important for filing taxes. You need to fill out the application form and present proper documentation at the social security office. Documentation can include a birth certificate or a certified copy of the adoption order.

It goes without saying that once you receive your child’s birth certificate and social security number, you should store them in a safe place. Identity thieves love to steal the social security numbers of babies, as children don’t typically check their credit report for anomalies.

Obtain Health Insurance

Once your child is born or adopted, you have a small window of opportunity to add your child to your health insurance policy. Make sure you take care of this with your human resources department as soon as possible.

If you have private insurance, you’ll want to call your insurance provider to add your child. The first couple of years of life are expensive from a medical standpoint, so you don’t want to dawdle around when it comes to obtaining health insurance for your new bundle of joy. Paying for well baby checks and immunizations out of pocket costs a lot of money!

In the case of an adoption from foster care, your child may qualify for a state medical card. If you changed your child’s name at adoption, you will need to contact your county’s health and human services department to obtain a card in your child’s new name. You will also need to work with your regular insurance company to make sure benefits from your primary insurance and the state program are coordinated properly.

Update Your Life Insurance Policy and Your Will

Death is something we don’t like to think about, especially at the time of a joyous event like a birth or adoption. But think about it we must. If you don’t have life insurance, now is the time to get it. You’ll want to go over your policy with your agent to make sure you have enough life insurance and update your beneficiaries.

Your will is another important document to update. If this is your first child, you will need to think long and hard about who you want raising your child, should anything happen to you before your child is grown. You want to have your choice written down in a will, because if you die without a will, the court will choose your child’s guardian, and it might not be the person you would choose.

Insurance, taxes, and wills aren’t the most fun things to think about when you add a new child to your family, but they are extremely important!