Becoming an adoptive parent is just as life-changing as becoming a parent biologically. Even though odds are you’ve been waiting for parenthood longer, you may feel unprepared now that it’s here. Along with the joy and excitement you’ll feel when you hold your baby in your arms for the first time, you’ll probably feel some anxiety and uncertainty. As adoptive parents, you may also feel what’s called the “post-adoption blues”. Here’s a question one adoptive mother emailed us:
“I understand that postpartum blues are thought to be caused by hormones. So how come I’ve been feeling low since we got home with our daughter?”
Many new adoptive parents suffer from baby blues. There’s a range of causes for the baby blues, and the fact is that some of them have nothing to do with hormonal changes.
Whether you deliver your baby or adopt, your life will be forever changed. From how your days are spent to how your nights are spent, and from how your finances look to where you spend your money, will never be the same. That’ll take some getting accustomed to. Before you’ve adjusted to life with a baby, you may to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and a little depressed. And, adding to the baby blues for many parents, whether they are adoptive or biological, mothers or fathers, is the feeling of being unsure of what to do with a baby. (For example, how to calm them, how much to feed them, and more). This lack of confidence is felt very commonly by new parents.
Here are some ways you can alleviate the post-adoption blues:
Know that bonding may not happen right away. After waiting to bring home your baby through adoption, and planning every step of your adoption journey, you may not feel bonded to your baby right away. And that’s normal. Moms report that it takes some time to bond with a baby. It’s a new relationship for both of you.
Make sure to get rest. One of the biggest causes to post-adoption depression is a lack of sleep. Many adoptive mothers overlook how physically demanding a new baby is, because they didn’t go through labor and delivery. Make sure to get the support you need, and keep doing what you enjoy. It could be something as simple as a quick stop to Target or working out at the gym. Make sure to get enough sleep so that you can be engaged with your baby.
Take a look at your expectations. Due to the scrutiny that adoptive parents go through in the screening phase, some feel that they must perfect parents. Don’t be too hard on yourself, and share with your husband, family, and friends that you need their support.
Finally, consider seeking counseling for yourself – this will also benefit your child. Research says that children experience negative effects if their parents face depression. It’s a good idea to locate a counselor who has experience with adoption and understands adoptive families.
Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P., is nationally recognized as an expert on open adoption. A Certiﬁed Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P.), Caldwell is the founder of Lifetime Adoption Center, established in 1986. She has assisted in over 2,000 successful adoptions and was one of the ﬁrst adoption professionals on the Internet.
Caldwell’s life work is dedicated to educating and helping birth parents find the right adoptive parents for their child. She spreads the word about modern adoption through speaking appearances, webinars, online resources, and as a podcast show host.
She has written several award-winning books, including So I Was Thinking About Adoption, the first book of its kind. There are many reasons women choose adoption, and this short book is a comprehensive resource to make the best plan for you and your baby. Caldwell wrote So I Was Thinking About Adoption as a handy guide to the details of the adoption process.
Caldwell has made over 150 media appearances, including ABC News, CBS News, Larry King Live, CNN Headline News, NBC’s The Today Show, CNN’s The Campbell Brown Show, NBC News, KGO Newstalk Radio, CNN’s Black in America II, MSNBC, Fox, PBS, BBC, and Dr. Laura.