Exploring the Emotional Journey of Adoptive Parents

Navigating the adoption process

It’s no secret that the adoption journey is a rollercoaster of emotions for everyone involved. While it can be tough, all prospective adoptive parents experience ups and downs throughout all phases of the adoption process. Read more for some insight into the emotional journey of adoption for prospective adoptive parents and our expert tips for coping along the way.

What emotions do adoptive parents experience during the adoption process? 

Emotions that adoptive parents feel during the adoption process, particularly during the wait, can include hope, excitement, anxiety, worry, frustration, eagerness, heartbreak, and so many more. Prospective adoptive parents usually feel so many different emotions because of the uncertainty and stress that surrounds waiting to be chosen by a perspective birthmother and then waiting for the adoption to be finalized. On top of that, dealing with the legal and financial aspects of adoption can bring on additional challenging emotions.

What is described above encompasses almost the whole range of human emotion, which shows that adoption really is an emotional rollercoaster! For this reason, it is important for prospective adoptive parents to hold space for whatever feelings they are experiencing on any given day, but not let those feelings consume them. Additionally, remember to be kind and patient with yourself as you navigate all of the aspects of the adoption process.

Practical tips for coping with the emotions of adoption during the adoption wait

As adoption professionals who have been in helping families for a many years, we have seen the following strategies prove to be helpful for waiting families:  

1.) Establish healthy coping mechanisms.

When you are going through a stressful or uncertain situation, like the adoption process, establishing healthy coping mechanisms is key. Every individual handles stress differently, so you will find that every prospective adoptive parent has different coping mechanisms. The important thing is being consistent and mindful about what works for you, whether it is daily exercise, taking up a new hobby, joining a support group, meeting friends for coffee, or taking time to travel.

2.) Stick to your routine.

While you are waiting to be chosen by a birthmother, sticking to your regular routine is critical for your mental health and dealing with any difficult feelings that may arise. We encourage you to keep up your personal routines and any other routines you have with your partner, friends, and/or family. As you are seeking to expand your family, it is important now more than ever to maintain a stable, loving, and healthy relationship with the loved ones in your life.

3.) Write in your journal.

If you don’t already incorporate journaling as a part of your self-care routine, it is a great activity to take up as you are waiting to be chosen. Journaling is a great method for expressing your feelings and reflecting on your journey, allowing you to process your emotions in a healthy way. After your adoption, it can also serve as a memento you can look back on to fully appreciate what you went through in order to bring your child into your family. 

4.) Start preparing for the arrival of your baby.

You can take this time to start preparing for when your baby is ready to come home. At this stage, you don’t need to start baby proofing your home or getting the nursery ready, but there are other things you can do. You can take a CPR course, start looking for a pediatrician, research local schools, take parenting classes, or read some parenting books.

5.) Don’t put your life on hold.

This may sound obvious, but some prospective adoptive parents can fall into the trap of putting their life on hold while they wait for “The Call.” Because the adoption wait can often be long, we always encourage prospective adoptive parents to continue living their lives and not put goals, dreams, or routines on hold. Putting your life on hold while you wait for can put you in a situation where your emotions are all consuming, which can be detrimental to your mental health by heightening your feelings of anxiety and stress. While you are in this waiting period, focusing on the life and relationships you have now is critically important.

Accept that you have no control over the timeline.

This is easier said than done, but the thing about going through the adoption process is that you have no control over the timeline in which you will be chosen by an expectant mother. The choice is entirely her own and — as long as you’re working with an ethical adoption service provider — she will not be forced into choosing any particular family. The best thing you can do for your mental health is manage your expectations and accept that adoption won’t happen on any preconceived timelines. Also, keep in mind that waiting for a long time to be chosen by a potential birthmother is not a failure on your part, nor a reflection of your ability to be a parent. Keep the faith that you will be chosen by the birthmother you were meant for.

Adoption is worth the wait.

As you are waiting to be chosen by a birthmother, keep in mind that despite all of the difficult emotions you may be feeling, adoption is worth the wait. No doubt, some of the emotions you are feeling include, hope, inspiration, and tremendous joy at the thought of holding your baby and finally realizing your dreams of having a family. During the hardest days, hold on to these glimmers of positivity, and you will be able to better handle the ups and downs involved in this emotional journey of adoption. When in doubt or feeling low, check out our Success Stories for a healthy dose of hope, inspiration, and cute adoptive family pics!

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Angel Adoption, Inc. provides marketing and advertising services that assist biological parents considering adoption and prospective adoptive parents to connect with each other, and provides support and referral services throughout the process. Angel Adoption, Inc. is an independent contractor and provides services under the supervision of Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois, License #012998, One Oakbrook Terrace, #501, Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181; 708-771-7180.