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.
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.
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.
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.
Depression. 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.
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.
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.
Make an Impact
Adoption Choices, Inc. is partnering with Crowdrise, a fundraising website for nonprofits, to help our adoptive parents and birth parents with much needed financial assistance. We understand that expenses keep clients from fulfilling their dreams. Both with birth parents making a plan for adoption, and with adoptive parents growing their family. It is our mission to provide financial assistance through grants and scholarships, awarded annually in November, in honor of National Adoption Month. Funds assist adoptive parents with matching and placements, adoption finalization and helping birth mothers improve their lives through higher education — and much more.
However, we can’t do it alone. Please read up on our programs and donate money where you are able. Your donation will make a huge impact.
About the Author
Patience Bramlett, a University of Southern Mississippi news editorial graduate, is a seasoned and award-winning freelance writer. She is also a passionate reader, whose only wish is to live life without fear of the unknown. Her motivation and inspiration to live her best life stems from the words of John Lennon:
“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy.’ They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”
This year, she’s joining Adoption Choices Inc. as an Editorial Intern. Fueled by her love of family, she hopes to educate those looking to grow their families through adoption.
When Patience is not exploring Colorado with her husband, she’s drinking coffee, forever figuring out how to tame her hair, growing her library, and trying to break into the publishing career.
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/.