Handling Postpartum Emotions after Placing a Baby for Adoption
Whether you have chosen adoption because of infertility, altruism, a desire to be a single parent, or another reason, most future adoptive families have something in common – high levels of stress and anxiety. The adoption process can be draining – physically, emotionally, and financially. Although the end result is exactly what you’ve been wishing for, this exciting and life-changing journey can take a toll on those involved. There are a number of things that pre-adoptive families can do to cope with this stress, starting with recognizing the need for coping mechanisms. Here are some tips you can use:
- Breathe! – The body’s natural response to stress is to initiate faster, more shallow breathing. This “fight or flight” reaction, while helpful when escaping a predator, can actually make mental or emotional stress worse. When you start to feel stressed, take a few minutes to practice deeper, or diaphragmatic breathing. This breath pattern acts to slow down your heart rate, stabilize blood pressure, and relax tense muscles, allowing you to better deal with the stressful situation at hand.
- Take Care of Yourself – Remember that your new baby is going to need you to be strong and healthy from the moment he or she comes home. If you allow stress and anxiety to damage your health, you will be less prepared for the late night feedings and 24/7 attention that an infant requires. Eat right, stick to your exercise program, and get plenty of sleep now to prepare you for that exciting next step!
- Do What You Love – Whether your hobby is running, painting, gardening, or something else, do what makes you happy. Carving out time for yourself is not selfish – it will make you a better, happier person and parent.
- Get Ready for Your New Family Member – Even though you’re not growing a baby inside of you, you are likely to feel the urge to “nest.” Take advantage of that instinct and decorate the nursery or baby-proof your home. Read up on what to expect during the first few months or take a parenting class with your partner or a friend.
- Enjoy Your Family – Whether this will be your first child or there are already children in the home, it’s important to maintain some semblance of normal family life. Keeping relationships strong, going on dates, asking for help when you’re feeling overwhelmed, and having fun together will make the waiting easier on all concerned.
ABC for Adoption is a small nonprofit agency dedicated to helping the birth parent and adoptive families get the guidance and support they need throughout the adoption journey. Visit us online or call 847-821-2901 to learn more.