During the process of preparing to adopt, your own mental, physical, and emotional needs might get overlooked. So you can be ready to care for your new baby, you’ll need to first care for yourself. Here are eight ways to practice self-care during your adoption wait:
1. Focus on the positive
You may have had a long, emotional road through fertility treatments before you decided to adopt. And the adoption process can be challenging at times too. We encourage you to center your thoughts on positive things. There are many beautiful moments that others won’t get to experience.
Like the moment when a woman makes the choice to trust you to raise her child. Or when you hold your baby for the first time. And knowing how loved your child is by so many people.
You have lots to look forward to. It’s hard to imagine if you feel like these experiences will never come. But they will, and as many adoptive parents will tell you, the wait will have been completely worth it.
2. Don’t let adoption become your entire life
Sure, becoming a parent through adoption may be the most significant thing going on in your life right now. But avoid trying to control the process or fixating on the adoption, because it isn’t going to make things happen any faster. It’s only going to wear you down.
There is life outside of adoption, like your job, church, hobbies, friends, and family. Make sure that you’re spending time with all the healthy and important things in your life. Try doing some simple, everyday things to distract yourself, like doing some yoga, working out, starting a new book, or trying a new recipe. Activities like these can shift your mindset to something positive or constructive.
If you’re having a difficult time breaking away from thoughts about your adoption, are losing sleep, or becoming depressed, you might benefit from the help of a counselor.
3. Stop comparing yourself to others
This one is easier said than done. We often see hopeful adoptive parents comparing their wait time to another couple’s. But comparing yourself to others will only be harmful because your experience is unique.
Since every birth mother is different and will be seeking different qualities in her ideal adoptive family, there’s no “formula” for adoption. No two adoption experiences are alike.
4. Join a support group
There are many local and online support groups for adoptive parents. An adoption support group is excellent for providing encouragement during the wait. Members of an adoption support group can learn about and explore the issues they may have in common. Group discussions will allow members to share problem-solving strategies.
These groups are a great place to connect with other adoptive couples, ask questions, and share your experiences. To find an adoption support group, here are a couple of places you can start:
The North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) has a parent group database that contains almost 900 adoption-related support groups from across the U.S.: nacac.org/parentgroups/database.html
The Child Welfare Information Gateway’s National Foster Care and Adoption Directory has a searchable database of parent support groups, at ChildWelfare.gov/nfcad.
5. Schedule something you can look forward to
Try to have one thing planned every few weeks that you can look forward to. It might be lunch with a friend you haven’t seen in a long time, or a shopping trip with your sister.
Whatever it is, always book something into your schedule that you’re excited about. These things can keep your mind off your adoption wait, and allow you to have some fun in the process. Remember, you won’t be able to do as much when you have a newborn at home!
6. Allow yourself time for relaxation or meditation
Set aside some time for meditation, prayer, and relaxation, even if it’s only for 30 minutes. You might have some tea, take a long, warm bath, meditate, listen to a podcast, stretch, go for a long walk, read, or listen to music. Activities like these will help you care for your mental, physical, and emotional needs. Whatever you like to do to relax, make sure you’re not skipping it during your adoption process.
7. Check in with yourself
Ask yourself how you’re feeling physically. Are you drinking enough water, eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep? When you’re busy with the adoption process, you might inadvertently forget about your physical needs. Your physical health has a significant impact on your mental and emotional state.
Next, consider how you’re feeling emotionally; can name what you’re feeling? Have you thought about what you’re grateful for, or have you thought mostly negative things? Have you asked people for what you want or need?
8. Communicate with your spouse
Adopting can be tough on marriages, but it also has the opportunity to bring you closer together. Both of you probably have your own way of coping with the ups and downs of adoption. So it can be difficult if you feel like you’re not on the same page.
Communication is vital right now. Talk with your spouse about each of your emotions throughout this process. Spend quality time together now before you bring your baby home.
Sometimes, we think of self-care as optional and luxurious. But it’s actually the small, necessary things you can do for yourself each day that will keep you healthy and positive. Remember to reach out to your Adoption Coordinator at Lifetime if you need support during this time.
Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P., is a nationally-recognized adoption expert and the Founder of Lifetime Adoption Agency. She has been working in adoption since 1986 and is also an award-winning author and speaker.
Mardie knows the sorrow of coping with infertility, and is an adoptive parent who experienced many of the challenges adoptive families might face. In various media appearances worldwide, publications, and her podcast, Mardie important steps that must be taken to complete a safe and secure adoption. Having adopted her son, Mardie knows firsthand the joys of raising an adopted child.
Mardie’s life mission is to help adoptive parents and birth parents find each other. With Lifetime Adoption Agency, she seeks to build happy families and provide precious infants and children with a loving and secure future.