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Maintaining Friendships During and After Adoption

Berkley's adoptive familyThe challenges inside the family unit are massive. As a foster parent or adoptive parent, the unique challenges of your life may seem to take over your time. You must maintain relationships outside your family. 

How do you connect with friends when it feels like you are busy 25 hours a day? Here are some suggestions to keep you feeling connected to your circles. Your mental health will thank you. 

Take Time Outside the Family Unit

It’s hard to stay friends when you don’t visit or talk. Your friends, ideally, should get along with your family. That said, it’s essential to take time away from home with your friend. Having some adult-only time helps you recharge and be the best caregiver you can be. 

Schedule time each week to do something alone or with a friend which doesn’t involve your family. It could be a simple routine, like a walk in the dog park or a yoga class. What matters is that you set aside time each week to be outside the role of caregiver.

Drop the Guilt

Sometimes, as parents, we feel like self-care is selfish. You might feel like it’s wrong to want to take time away from your kids or partner. Remember that it is healthy to set limits and boundaries between yourself and your family. 

As a caregiver, your emotional needs must be met in order for you to be the empathetic, kind parent you want to be. Remember to treat yourself the way you treat your children. That means all that patience, love and support is for that person in the mirror just as much as the kiddos!

Connect With Other Adoptive Families

Part of what makes us human is our desire to connect with other people in our village. That can be hard when you find yourself having to give a lesson on adoption and fostering every time you meet someone. You might start to feel like all you have time for is to teach others about your family and what makes it unique. 

While it is a beautiful thing to be a community educator and advocate, it is exhausting! All that emotional labor leaves you feeling drained instead of recharged. Trying to make friends as an adoptive parent or foster parent starts to feel like its own TEDtalk. 

One of the best ways to meet your emotional and social needs is to meet other families that look like yours. It can be refreshing to be on the receiving end of an info dump or to hear stories, good and bad, about another family. 

Remember to Vent

Because your family is unique, you may feel like you need to defend them more than some other parents. You love your child and don’t want to hear anyone criticize them. That said, every parent has moments of frustration. It is healthy to express those feelings to friends and loved ones. Don’t let yourself get caught up in thinking others will view your child as a “bad child”. It is okay to complain about stressful things. It doesn’t mean you love them any less.