The new year brings about new possibilities and for many anxiously-awaiting parents a new baby. So, it is important to be as prepared as possible to ensure a smooth transition and positive experience for everyone involved.
“Whether it’s joining an adoptive parent support group, talking to adoptive parents or visiting adoption websites – it’s important to gain as much insight and knowledge as you can,” says one adoption professional.
Find a Support System
As the old saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. So, it’s important to establish a support system, says Elizabeth Danish, HealthGuidance. Everyone’s support system looks different. The important thing is to surround yourself with positive people who will actively help you throughout your journey – whatever that may look like.
“If you do not have a positive support system, you can see that through an adoption agency worker/counselor,” says Dean Kirschner, Ph.D., LCSW-C, Adoption Makes Family.
“It is so easy in the thralls of new parenthood to be completely obsessed with your new baby or child,” says Dawn Davenport, Creating a Family. “It is also pretty common to be completely overwhelmed by the demands of new motherhood/fatherhood.”
Some adoptive parents may even suffer from what researchers have dubbed “post-adoption 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.
Counseling can also be a very important tool for adoptive parents as they navigate life with their new baby and attempt to find their new normal – both before and after adoption. Counseling can also be an important way to maintain a strong relationship with your partner.
“No doubt adoption is stressful for the child, but it is also stressful for the parents,” says Davenport. “It’s not only the child’s life that has been turned upside down.”
Do Your Research
When adopting an older child, it can be incredibly beneficial to learn as much as possible about their early life. What do they like? What do they dislike? What is their personality like? Ask questions so you are as prepared as you possibly can be to parent your new son or daughter.
“You want to learn what your child’s routines are, how he might have been soothed, how he likes to be held, his favorite toys and games,” says Debra Harder, adoption information coordinator with Children’s Home Society and Family Services. “If you have the opportunity to meet your baby’s or child’s caregivers, this is a great opportunity to learn firsthand what he’s used to so you can help him feel more comfortable in your home with familiar routines.”
Prepare for Open Adoption & Evolving Relationships
If you are in touch with the birth parents, be ready for an ever-evolving relationship. While you may have established a plan of action around open adoption, be prepared for change. As your child grows and changes, so to must your relationship with the adoptive parents.
“Be prepared that your relationship with your child’s birth parents will evolve on both sides,” says Maxine Walton, a social worker with Children’s Home Society and Family Services. “It’s your job as the adoptive parents to take care of the child not to take care of the child’s birth parents,”
Help Your Child Adjust
“Your baby or child is being separated from everything they know,” says Harder. “Be prepared for what those first days, weeks, and months might be like.” This can especially be difficult for older adoptees. So, give it time. Do not try to rush this transition. Help your child adjust and be there as much as they feel comfortable. Rremember – new parents new time to adjust too. And that’s okay!
“You may expect to fall in love with your child instantly, but that might not happen,” Walton says. “You think it’ll be this lovely picture where you sit and nurture your child and the child gazes into your eyes right away. But you may not feel that instant bond. You may like but not love your child right away.”
Ask for Help
If you have questions, the adoption professionals at Adoption Makes Family are here to help. We are a non-profit (501-C3) licensed adoption agency based in Maryland founded to meet the needs of birth parents and adoptive parents in a manner that is sensitive, compassionate, and personal. 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.
Call Us Now at (410) 683-2100
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.
- “5 Things To Do To Prepare For The Adoption Process.” Transracial Adoption: When Parenting a Child of Another Race, 4 Jan. 2017, afth.org/preparing-for-adoption/
- Overstreet, Katie. “Preparing for Adoption.” Focus on the Family, 25 May 2010, www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/adoptive-families/adopting-children/preparing-for-adoption.
- Shaw, Gina. “10 Tips For Adoptive Parents.” WebMD, WebMD, 21 Oct. 2011, https://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/essential-tips-for-adoptive-parents#1
- “Step 3: Prepare for Adoption.” The North American Council on Adoptable Children, 25 May 2017, www.nacac.org/help/how-to-adopt/steps-to-adoption/prepare-for-adoption/