Adoption is a stressful process. On the surface, it is portrayed as an act of altruism and a way to expand your family, it is also seen by many as a helping hand for children in need of forever families. There’s no doubt that all these statements are true, but what about all the arduous work that seems to go unnoticed? As adoptive parents, you must be willing to give ourselves credit where it’s due. It is easy to overlook your own needs when you get caught up in parenting an adopted child. Allow yourself time and compassion when life feels too much to bear. It’s okay to love yourself! At MLJ, we all want to ensure that all our adoptive parents enable positive coping techniques throughout the adoption process and after your child arrives home. Here are some tips that may help when you feel the stress gets to be too much:
- Don’t overthink it. Do what you believe is best for you and your child and remember the skills you learned in your adoption education. Create boundaries of respect for not only your child, but for yourself as well. It takes time to get used to having a new family member. Stay mindful when it comes to over-committing and allow yourself some downtime to reevaluate not only your child’s needs, but yours as well. There might be a tendency to over-compensate when it comes to fulfilling these needs, however, remember that children can be easily pleased and usually satisfied with things you may already have the capacity of giving them: love, guidance, and support.
- Get to know your child. Pay attention to behaviors. What allows them to thrive? What gives them added stress? Take note of these behaviors and focus on their strengths. Positive reinforcement goes a long way with adopted children. If the child is old enough, when something makes them feel uneasy, allow them to talk with you about it. Sometimes the best thing to do is listen and validate their feelings, avoid the need to continuously give them advice. This can result in an added pressure on you.
- Fit some down time for yourself into your routine. Whether it’s going to buy yourself a cup of coffee, taking a walk, or meeting with a friend, the simple things in life can allow us time to clear our heads from added stressors, even if it’s only 10 minutes a day. We cannot pour from an empty cup, so find a support system or a friend who can step in and give you a break, even if it is for a short period of time.
- Meditate. Scientifically proven, meditation has the capacity to change the chemistry in our brains to make us more relaxed and stress-free. It is as easy as downloading an app on your phone.
- Look into support groups or online blogs. Words of advice from others can be extremely helpful from those who have been through the adoption process. Reach out and find something or someone who can offer support that gives you clarity and direction. There are always families who have similar concerns or even an interest in sharing their individual story about their adoption experiences that can provide you with emotional support.
- Don’t compare! Remember that it’s your family’s own individual adoption journey. Allow yourself to make mistakes, it can be inevitable when it comes to adoption and parenting. Trial and error is a part of the process.
- Remember that it’s not a race. Raising your child is a continual process and you are not in a race with anyone. Remember what started you on this journey and build off these ideas and goals.
Again, adoption can be a stressful process. Once your child arrives home and your life has changed you will experience additional stress of life changes. Knowing how to reduce this stress and how to cope will allow you to more fully enjoy the adoption journey and the joy of parenting your adopted child.
“It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and to make your happiness a priority. It’s necessary.” – Mandy Hale
Samantha Brown just completed her junior year at IUPUI as she pursues a major in Psychology. Upon graduation, she hopes to enter a graduate program in Clinical Psychology. She is excited to be interning this summer with MLJ Adoptions because she is exposed to diverse cultures and is able to work towards bringing vulnerable children in their forever homes.