Having children – no matter how you go about it – requires quite a bit of adjustment as you find your new normal.
Finding Your New Normal
“Settling into parenthood or the ‘postadoption period’ can present its own difficulties for parents,” according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway.
Adjusting to One Another
“Many adoptive parents are shocked and a little concerned when their child is finally placed in their home, yet they don’t feel an instant connection,” says Nora Sharp, MLJ Adoptions.
Christina Frank, Parenting Magazine, admits that she and her husband “spent the first few months together [with their adopted daughter] learning and adapting to each other’s respective ‘ways of doing things.’” Quite simply, it takes time to bond. It’s not something you can force. It takes the “repetition of hundreds of positive interactions,” says Rita Taddonio, director of the Adoption Resource Center at Spence-Chapin Adoption Agency.
So, take a deep breathe and relax. As The Supremes once said, “You can’t hurry love. No, you just have to wait.”
Click Here to read our blog on Tips for Bonding with Your Child.
Getting Plenty of Rest
Often, adopted children, especially older children, develop habits when in foster care. This institutional behavior can sometimes manifest itself in difficulty sleeping through the night. “Adoptive parents need to be cognizant of these challenges and incorporate those awarenesses in the expectations,” says Dean Kirschner, Ph.D., LCSW-C. As new parents, it is important to be patient as your child adjusts to their new life. Of course, there are things you can do as a parent to help ensure a smoother transition.
“One of the most common questions we receive at Creating a Family is some variation on how to get a good night’s sleep while making sure that your child is firmly attached,” says Dawn Davenport, Creating a Family. Here are a few tips:
- Be Patient: “With a newly adopted child, your first goal is to help create attachment,” says Davenport. Until the child feels comfortable in their new surroundings, they may find it difficult to sleep at night, which means less sleep for you as a parent.
- Gradually Back Off: “Getting your child to sleep and keeping them there is a huge issues for all parents, but is especially tricky for adoptive parents,” says Davenport. Once you feel the attachment is there, slowly back off your physical and emotional presence at night. “For example, if you have been lying with your child to get her to sleep, you gradually move to sitting on the bed, to sitting on the floor beside the bed, to sitting by the door, to sitting in the hall outside her door,” says Davenport.
- Brainstorm with Your Child: “Talk with your child about her needs and fears,” says Davenport. No one knows your child’s needs better than they do. Work together towards a solution that is mutually beneficial for you and your child.
- Give Them Space: Especially when dealing with an adopted child, it can be difficult for parents to give the child adequate space, fearing it will negatively affect the attachment process. However, appropriate space is important to not only childhood development, but also attachment. “Parents have to believe that their child can get to sleep and stay asleep before the child will believe it,” says Davenport.
Counseling Can Help
Sometimes, it is just healthy and refreshing to take a step back and talk through your feelings. This doesn’t make you a bad parent. It makes you human.
- Strengthen Your Marriage: “I never contemplated how adoption would affect my marriage before my partner and I adopted our daughter,” says Emily Westbrooks, Romper. The truth is that adoption can put a strain on even the strongest of marriages. Talking to a trained adoption counselor is a great way to “validate your feelings,” says Taddonio.
- Talk Through Issues: “In some cases, adoption-related concerns arise long after the adoption has been finalized,” says the Child Welfare Information Gateway, “and parents may be unprepared for the issues that may come up throughout the lifelong adoption journey.” Counseling is a great way to work through these issues as they arise.
- PADS: Some adoptive parents may even suffer from what researchers have dubbed “postadoption depression syndrome,” or PADS. After months or years of anticipating parenthood, the excitement of the actual adoption can give way to a feeling of being “let down” or sadness in some parents. As with postpartum depression, it is important to speak with a trained professional.
Need Someone to Talk To?
Adoption Makes Family is here to help! We are a non-profit (501-C3) licensed adoption agency based in Maryland. Our adoption counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for your convenience. If you would like our advice or just need to talk, please give us a call at any time.
24-Hour Hotline 410-683-2100
Adoption Makes Family was founded to meet the needs of birth parents and adoptive parents in a manner that is sensitive, compassionate, and personal.
If you have any questions, you can contact us by phone at 410-683-2100, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or use our online contact form.
- Davenport, Dawn. “Adoptive Parenting: Balancing Attachment with Getting Sleep.” Creating a Family, 21 Nov. 2017, creatingafamily.org/blog/adoptive-parenting-balancing-attachment-sleep/.
- Frank, Christina. “Life After Adoption.” Parenting, 24 July 2014, www.parenting.com/article/life-after-adoption.
- “Impact of Adoption on Adoptive Parents.” Child Welfare Information Gateway, Aug. 2015, www.childwelfare.gov.