Is Your Life After Adoption NOT What You Expected?
Adoption is truly a miracle, truly a blessing. It is ordained by God as a means of growing families and granting parents to the parentless. However, as some of my southern friends might say, it is not always “peaches and roses.”
Some parents struggle following an adoption. Common struggles include lack of feeling bonded to a child, grieving the loss of a “calmer” life prior to the adoption, questioning their ability to help a child with trauma history, and sheer exhaustion as they try to meet the needs of their new child around the clock. The challenge becomes complicated when parents feel guilt and surprise over having these feelings because it is so opposite of what they thought they might feel after years of anticipation, investment, and waiting.
America World and the ACT Program are here to support parents if they are experiencing “post-adoption blues.” We want you to know that it is common to feel these things, and it certainly does not make you a “bad” parent. The vast majority of these challenges resolve in the first few months. God-given time and grace often bridge the gap as parents transition into fully “feeling” like a parent to a child, and children begin to heal from their sad histories of loss and trauma. In the meantime, here are some ways that parents can cope as they wait for their feelings to bloom into a full parental bond:
- Share your feelings openly with your spouse. Spouses should provide emotional and practical support to the struggling partner. Rely on the marriage relationship as a strength to work through this challenge, and don’t let marital conflict add another stress.
- Take care of yourself. Find a little time to do whatever it is you do that helps you cope, relax, and renew. Exercise, bubble baths, naps, coffee with friends, are some examples.
- Let others care for you. Meals, housecleaning, laundry, carpooling are things that can be delegated to your neighbors, church family, and other support system who often just need to be asked. Let others pour some practical love into your family, knowing there is a season for everything, and this may be your season to be on the receiving end of support while you do the hard work of becoming a parent to a former orphan.
- Examine your expectations, and prune them to the basics, for now. Let go of the extra stuff and focus on connecting with your child and helping him/her learn to trust you and know what a family is about. Almost all the rest of it can wait, such as dust on the coffee table, activities that pull you from home, gourmet meals, and more.
- Share your feelings with a trusted and wise friend, counselor, or pastor. Talking about the feelings often brings fresh perspective, renewed energy, and strength through comradery.
- Talk with other adoptive parents with similar stories. Adoptive parents have many different experiences ranging from easy adjustment to long-term struggles. Most fall somewhere in between on that range. Your experience is not going to be just like everyone else’s, and that is okay.
- Rest in the fact that God has called you to this, and through His Spirit in you, you CAN love and parent your child well, even when you aren’t “feeling” it. Look to God and the resources He has provided to help you find a path through this difficult season.
For more help and information on this topic, consider this upcoming support group. “Overcoming Post-Adoption Blues: When Life After Your Adoption is Not What you Expected,” is a 5-session educational support group that will begin meeting this week, starting Wednesday, July 12, and continue to meet every other Wednesday at 9pm EST, for 5 sessions. Use this Registration Form to sign up, or email ACT@awaa.org, or call 800-429-3369, for more information. Or, contact us for some 1-1 supportive coaching with an experienced adoption professional, and explore our services at http://www.awaa.org/act .
ACT (Adoption Coaching and Training) is a ministry of America World Adoption designed to support families through training, support groups, and individualized coaching. Explore ACT services on our website here, and reach out to us today for a free consultation to make a plan to meet your needs.