Parenthood is not for the faint of heart. From the moment you find out you’re going to be a parent, you’re in for an adventure. Each day brings something new, something different. There will be joys, and there will be challenges. It is the ride of your life.
While all parents face similar highs and lows, each family is unique, with its own set of ups and downs. But being adoptive parents brings a whole new set of challenges that biological parents don’t always have. Here are some struggles that adoptive families face, and ways to alleviate the stress.
Overcoming infertility – Adoptive parents may have already faced loss and disappointment due to complications with infertility. They may struggle with feelings of jealousy toward others who can have a baby biologically. Regardless of the circumstances, adoptive parents need to have their feelings acknowledged and addressed before taking on the stress of the adoption process. They can turn to support groups or individual therapists. Adoptive parents need to understand they are not alone in their struggles with infertility.
Understanding the adoption process – The adoption process can seem cumbersome and overwhelming at times. There are many decisions to be made, from the type of adoption to pursue, to what to do when you have been matched with a child. The home study process can seem especially daunting. A good adoption agency can help you manage the process and provide emotional support through every step of the journey. Again, adoptive parents can turn to support groups for a sense of community and answers to their questions. It is so helpful to talk to other families who have been down the same road.
Waiting for a placement – To some adoptive families, this is the hardest part. It is important to keep life as normal as possible during this time. Keep your regular routines, because once the adoption is finalized and your child is home, life will be anything but regular. Along with your normal activities, make time for stress-relieving activities, like exercise, pampering, time with friends, time for hobbies, a glass of wine, whatever. It may seem like not much is happening during the waiting, but the stress of waiting can take its toll.
Handling post-adoption depression – This is similar to post-partum depression. After months of anticipating parenthood, the finalization of the adoption may lead to a feeling of letdown in some parents. The reality of parenthood sinks in, and the stress may be heightened by a lack of sleep, possible behavior issues, or even troubles bonding with the new child. In some cases, these feelings resolve themselves after life settles down and the family gets into a routine. If the depression continues, peer support or help from a therapist (especially a professional with experience in adoption issues) can be extremely helpful.
Again, parenthood is tough, and adoptive families have added issues that birth families don’t face. Find your “village” and know you aren’t alone. It is a roller coaster of emotions, but it is WORTH it.