As you likely already know, the adoption process comes with a certain set of expected stresses — complicated paperwork, long conversations with officials, and plenty of waiting. However, in addition to these anticipated stressors, adoptive families often face additional stressful factors that are rarely talked about.
As you prepare to welcome your adopted child into your home, there are a few common post-adoption stresses that you should ready yourself to face, including bonding challenges, mental and physical disabilities, and family reactions. Developing coping mechanisms for the stress that comes with these factors will make welcoming your adopted child home much easier.
Difficulties in Family Bonding
No matter how old your child is when you adopt them, they will face an adjustment period when they first enter your home. This adjustment period usually lasts longer for older children and teenagers, who will already hold preset expectations about what family life is like and may have post-traumatic stress disorder. However, this period can be especially challenging for adoptive parents of infants, as these children cannot communicate their confusion and fear through words and must instead resort to crying.
Regardless of your child’s age, the best thing you can do for them during this time is demonstrate your support and love. Take an interest in the things they’re interested in, and make sure that you’re emotionally available to have tough conversations with them. If they push you away, give them some distance, but let them know that they will always have a place in the family and that you will be there for them whenever they are ready. Above all, know that it’s not your job to “fix” them, and trying to do so will likely only make the situation worse.
Caring for Disabilities
If your newly adopted child has a disability and you have not previously raised a disabled child, then you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed as you learn how to care for your child’s needs. Each child — and each disability — is different, so it is vital that you work with your child’s doctor to establish a care routine that works for them.
Additionally, you should learn what you can about your child’s disability so that you can serve as a knowledgeable advocate for them. Finally, you should know that post-traumatic stress disorder is very common among adopted children, even those who are not physically disabled. If you suspect that your child is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, you should seek help for them from a licensed therapist.
With luck, your extended family will be just as enthusiastic about your decision to adopt as you are. However, this may not always be the case. For example, your child’s grandparents may be upset about your decision to adopt, or they might be unsure of how to bond with your child. If this is the case, you should speak candidly with your child’s grandparents about their fears and the adoption process in general. You should reassure them of your excitement about adopting your child, answer any questions that they have, and encourage them to treat your child just as they would a biological grandchild. If they still have concerns after this, you should direct them to someone who can help them better process the situation, such as a therapist or adoption specialist.