At last! The long wait is over! All the legwork and reams of paper work have finally paid off. You are now bringing your child home. But after the excitement has died down, you realize that all the stress that has been accumulating during the adoption process is now taking its toll on you. The stress may pile on from various areas:
– Physical: All the preparations can be physically draining, especially when you consider all the efforts behind the successful adoption. There is the hassle of going through the legal requirements, the preparations for the home study and the various visits to A Act of Love Adoptions, your lawyer and the potential birthparent. The physical stress can be especially heightened when a couple has come to adoption after a series of infertility treatments.
– Emotional: The process of adoption can be an emotional roller-coaster ride. If there is an issue of infertility involved, the couple may need to undergo a grieving process. There may also be disappointments along the way, as well as the emotional pressure related to taking care of a newborn or of dealing with a child who is also experiencing some stress and trauma himself. The whole family will also be undergoing an emotional upheaval with the adjustments related to the new addition to the family. If the adoption is a foreign adoption, there is also jet lag, travel weariness, lack of sleep and culture shock to deal with.
– Financial. The costs related to a act of love adoption as well as the cost of taking care of an additional member of the family can be considerable.
Indeed, adoption stress can happen. It is best to prepare for the possibility of the stress. And when it comes, it is helpful to know how to effectively deal with the stress:
– Be prepared to parent. While waiting for the placement, educate yourself about being a parent, especially if it is your first time to be one. Visit the library to get parenting books and attend parenting talks and seminars.
– Get some help. When you bring your child home, you can look to friends and family for help in housekeeping, cooking or taking care of the other children.
– Limit visitors. It may not be advisable to expose him to a lot of new faces. This may overwhelm the child, who is also still adjusting to you. You may need to explain this to your friends and loved ones who may be excited to welcome the child personally.
– Take some time off. Avail of your parental leave so that you can have some time with the child. Do not feel pressured to attend parties, do volunteer work or ensure that your house is squeaky clean. Fatigue may set in if you feel you have to be the perfect friend, host or volunteer especially at this time. If you can, take a breather to let off steam. Get some rest when things have stabilized. This can be a short trip to the mall, a massage or an excursion to a nearby beach or park.
– Be patient and positive. Cut yourself and your child a little slack. The bonding and attachment you desire with your child may not come immediately. Amidst the frustrations and strain, strive to keep a positive outlook. This can help so that you can start the first steps towards connecting with your child and overcoming any stress you may feel.
– Be on the lookout for signs of depression. It may be that you are simply feeling off. It may also be that depression is setting in. Be alert for signs that your sadness may need professional intervention. This includes:
o Considerable weight loss or weight gain
o Sleeplessness or having too much sleep
o Loss of appetite or a significant increase in appetite
o Irritability and aggressiveness
o Difficulty in focusing
o Deep feelings of guilt, hopelessness, helplessness or worthlessness
o Substance abuse
o Persistent thoughts of suicide or death
– Get professional help when necessary. If you notice a number of the above signs, especially the last one, get professional help as soon as possible. A therapist that is experienced in post adoptive stress can help guide you through the stress. Even without signs of being depressed, you can consider getting counseling for you and your partner.