During the hectic process of adopting a child, your own physical, mental and emotional needs are often overlooked. But in order to be ready to care for your new child, you’ll need to make sure you’re cared for yourself, too.
Here are nine things that will be important for your self-care during “the wait:”
1. Avoid thinking about adoption all the time
Becoming a parent is, of course, the biggest thing you have going on in your life right now. But fixating on the adoption or trying to control the process isn’t going to make things happen any faster. It’s only going to wear you down.
It’s hard to break cyclical thoughts and feelings. You might benefit from the help of a counselor, especially if you find that you’re losing sleep or becoming depressed. However, some simple, everyday things you can do to distract yourself include getting up and immediately working out, doing some yoga, testing out a new healthy recipe, or opening a new book — anything to shift your mindset to something constructive or positive.
2. Don’t compare yourself to others
Easier said than done, right? But American Adoptions has been doing this since 1991, and we see how often hopeful adoptive parents will compare their wait time and process to that of another family’s. It’s not that simple.
Because every prospective birth mother is different and will be looking for different qualities in her ideal family, there is no formula for adoption. No two experiences are alike. We can tell you our agency’s average statistics, but we’ll also remind you that some of our adoptive parents wait more than a year while others wait only a few days to be placed with a child.
Ultimately, comparing yourself to others will only be harmful. Your experience is unique.
3. Focus on the positives
You’ve likely had a hard road to adoption. And the adoption process itself can be very difficult at times. But try to center your thoughts on the positives. There are so many moments of beauty entirely unique to adoption that others won’t get to experience.
The moment when a woman makes the monumental, humbling choice to have you raise her child. Getting to know and love her as her own person. Holding your baby for the first time. Seeing your child interact with his or her birth family in the years to come. Knowing how loved your child is by so many people.
You have a lot to look forward to. It’s hard when you feel like these experiences will never come, but they will, and the wait will have been worth it.
4. Take a trip
Many couples have a “babymoon” before the arrival of a new child. Plan one for yourselves! It doesn’t have to be lavish, and you don’t have to go far — even just a weekend visiting friends or family can be a nice change of pace.
You won’t be able to travel as often when you have a newborn in tow, so take advantage of this time together. To that end…
5. Have something to look forward to
Even if it’s small, like lunch with someone you haven’t seen in a long time, have one thing planned every couple weeks that you’re looking forward to. Plan it yourself, if you have to!
A camping trip, a date night, concert, party — whatever it is, always have something on your calendar that you’re excited about. It’ll keep your mind off of “the wait,” and you’ll have a lot of fun in the process. You won’t be able to do as much of this when you have a new baby at home!
6. Spend time with friends
There are few things more comforting than a good conversation with a friend. Talk about the adoption, or chat about anything but. Whatever you need, your friends will support you.
Not only will this feel uplifting for you and improve your relationships, it’ll be good to spend some quality time together before you have a baby that requires your time and attention.
7. Set aside time for relaxation
Even just half an hour a day will help you take care of yourself physically, mentally and emotionally. Whatever you do to relax, make sure you’re not skipping out on it in the hustle of the adoption process.
Take a warm bath, meditate, have some tea, stretch, read, listen to music or a podcast, or go for a long walk.
8. Check in with yourself
How are you feeling physically? Are you drinking enough water? Eating healthily? Getting enough exercise and sleep? It may seem silly, but your physical health greatly impacts your mental and emotional state and, when you’re busy with the adoption process, you may be putting your physical needs aside.
How are you feeling emotionally? Can you put a name to what you’re feeling? Have you expressed what you want or need to the appropriate people? Have you thought about things you’re grateful for today, or have you thought primarily negative things?
Set aside a little time at the end of each day to make sure you’re taking care of yourself physically and emotionally. The two often go hand in hand.
9. Check in with your spouse
The adoption process can be tough on relationships, but it’s also something that can bring you closer together. Each person will likely have their own way of handling the ups and downs of adoption, and it can be hard to feel like you’re experiencing it separately or that you’re not on the same page.
More than ever, communication will be key. Verbally expressing your gratitude for big and small moments with your spouse, telling them that you support them, talking through each of your emotions throughout the process, and letting them know that you’re on the same team will be important. Spending quality time together before the arrival of your child will also be invaluable.
Self-care can sometimes seem optional or luxurious. But really, it’s the small, necessary things we do for ourselves every day that keep us healthy, strong and positive.
Remember that you can always reach out to your American Adoptions specialist if you need support during this time.