Adoptive Moms: Common Emotions and Coping Skills
By: Patience Bramlett
The process of adoption was no easy feat, but you did it. You worked tirelessly towards growing your family and joining the ranks of motherhood. The day you brought your child home, you felt the happiness of becoming a mother, a feeling you had worked towards for so long. Warm tears streamed down your face as your heart beat uncontrollably. You experienced a new type of love and adoration as you held your child with the carefulness of a first-time mother. Adoptive moms can experience many different common emotions and not all of them are happy.
You’re home from your local adoption agency with your new bundle of joy. But now that the newness of motherhood has worn off, you feel down, and you can’t stop asking yourself why. You didn’t expect to feel anything other than happiness.
You may be struggling to make sense of your emotions, but Adoption Choices of Colorado wants you to know you’re not alone! It’s okay to feel this way. Motherhood can bring about a roller coaster ride of emotions, especially when adoption comes into play. Rest assured, there are coping mechanisms to help you journey through this difficult time.
THE EMOTIONS OF AN ADOPTIVE MOTHER
As an adoptive mom, completing the adoption process means you’re finally able to settle in with your new family. While that idea seems inviting, adjusting to motherhood can present difficulties. In some cases, adoption-related issues arise long after the adoption, and you may feel unprepared for the lifelong process of adoption.
Some parental stressors are the same types of challenges that all families—biological and adoptive—face; however, there are other potential stressors unique to adoptive mothers.
Adoptive Moms can Feel Guilt
Believe it or not, many post-adoptive mothers experience guilt in the months following adoption. It’s not uncommon to find yourself feeling sad for your child’s birth mother. The deeper you fall in love with your precious baby, the more you realize the level of loss you child’s birth mother must be feeling.
Feeling a Lack of Identity
Adoption is a life event that changes the identities of all involved. As an adoptive mother, this change in identity means the realization of the long-awaited role of Mom and all it entails. But you may not feel like a “real” mother, even after the adoption is complete. It’s normal to adjust to motherhood slowly and question the expectations that accompany your new identity.
Despite the anticipation of motherhood, you might be surprised to find yourself facing feelings of sadness when you bring your new child home. Becoming a parent — often on short notice — can be stressful, which is why some adoptive mothers experience Post-Adoption Depression Syndrome (PADS). The realities of parenthood, including lack of sleep and the weight of parental responsibilities, can be overwhelming.
As an adoptive mother, you might find yourself wondering why you feel anything less than happy. After all, adoption was the goal for some time. But you shouldn’t give motherhood a fairytale facade. As with most aspects of life, becoming a mother has its ups and downs.
YOU’RE NOT ALONE; WAYS TO COPE WITH THESE EMOTIONS
How do you overcome emotions such as frustration, fear and grief? Why can’t I just be happy with my version of motherhood? These are questions you may be asking yourself. It would be ideal to only experience the upsides of adoption, but that’s not realistic.
While there’s really no way to completely escape the negative emotions of motherhood, there are ways to overcome them and keep on living.
Accept your feelings as normal
Fear, grief, frustration – these are all common emotions. Nowhere is it written that life will go completely according to plan. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. While you can never fully escape your emotions, you can learn to manage and live with them. Fear and frustration are only as powerful as you allow them to be in your life.
Manage your parental expectations
Don’t set unreasonable expectations for yourself. Leading up to the moment you’re able to take your child home, you form an ideal version of parenthood. If you feel unable to meet the standards you’ve set for yourself, a wave of inadequacy can overcome you. If you align your expectations with reality, this feeling can, and most likely will, dissipate. No mother is perfect! Remember that. Birth mothers also feel negative emotions from giving their baby up for adoption.
Confide in trusted family members and friends
Motherhood isn’t easy. Don’t make it harder by isolating yourself. It’s more than okay to vent or ask for advice. Open your mouth, speak, and let your worries, fears, and struggles tumble out. Not only will you feel better, but loved ones will be able to connect with you better.
Attend support groups
Hearing how other mothers adjusted to parenthood can be reassuring. Adoptive parent support groups are meant to lend a hand and a sympathetic ear to those who need it. More experienced adoptive parents can even serve as role models for you. Utilize support groups to connect with others in similar situations, vent your feelings in a safe environment, receive supportive feedback, and learn new parental strategies. When you seek adoption info, look into support groups in your area to help you cope with these emotions.
Post adoption struggles are not uncommon. Becoming an adoptive mother changes you. Even those prepared and eager to have a child can easily find themselves overwhelmed during the transition.
THE UPSIDES OUTWEIGH THE DOWNSIDES
Adoptive motherhood can bring tremendous joy—and a sizable amount of stress. But there are many more upsides to motherhood than there are downsides.
Adoption Choices of Colorado wants to assure you that you’re going to be okay. We know motherhood isn’t just about headaches. It’s a truly moving experience. But obstacles are inevitable, and we’re here to help in any way we can. As an adoptive mother, a willingness to learn about the issues and seek support, if necessary, can help ensure that you and your child experience happy and healthy lives.
Adoption Choices of Colorado
For more information on adoption please contact Adoption Choices of Colorado. We can reached via our website or phone 303-670-4401.
Berry, Mike. “5 Emotions Adoptive Parents Go Through (And How To Overcome The Bad Ones).” Confessions of an Adoptive Parent, confessionsofanadoptiveparent.com/5-emotions-adoptive-parents-go-through-and-how-to-overcome-the-bad-ones/.
“Impact of Adoption on Adoptive Parents: Impact of (Adoptive) Parenting.” Adoption.com, Child Welfare Information Gateway, adoption.com/wiki/Impact_of_Adoption_on_Adoptive_Parents:_Impact_of_(Adoptive)_Parenting.
Shiels, Angelica. “8 Practical Tips for Adoptive Parents.” Scary Mommy, 13 Aug. 2015, www.scarymommy.com/tips-for-adoptive-parents/.