As you make an adoption plan for your baby, you’re likely focused on making sure your child is taken care of. But are you making sure that you’re taken care of, too?
Here are nine things that will be important for your physical and emotional health when you’re in the process of placing a baby for adoption:
1. Make everyday physical care a priority
Your physical and emotional states are closely linked. So make sure you’re not skimping on essential physical care during the whirlwind of an unplanned pregnancy and adoption. Besides, your baby needs the extra attention to your physical wellbeing, as much as you do.
- Drinking enough water?
- Eating healthily?
- Avoiding things that are unhealthy for a pregnancy?
- Taking prenatal vitamins?
- Getting lots of sleep?
- Taking some time to stretch, walk or get some light exercise?
Even simple things like keeping yourself showered and well-hydrated will go a long way toward improving your physical and emotional state. It can be hard if you’re struggling with the adoption process, but don’t let your health be an afterthought.
2. Spend time with people who support you
You may feel a little overwhelmed with preparing for the adoption and your labor, but set aside a couple hours every two weeks or so to spend time with “your team.” Have dinner with your friends, family, significant other, spiritual leader or whoever else who supports and loves you.
It’s best if you avoid people who you feel are toxic or who are unsupportive of your adoption plan, and instead surround yourself with people who respect whatever choice you make. You can vent about adoption, or you don’t have to talk about it at all — whatever you need. It’s just reenergizing to be around people who love you.
3. Check in with yourself
What do you need right now, physically? What do you need to do to meet those needs?
How are you feeling emotionally? Can you put a name to it? Have you talked about these feelings with your adoption specialist lately? What do you think will bring you the most peace right now?
What are you grateful for right now?
Take a moment at the end of each day to check in with yourself and make sure that you’re meeting your physical and emotional needs. Take stock of some of the good in your life in the midst of an emotionally difficult time.
4. Be kind to yourself
Expectant parents often feel guilt, shame, or even anger toward themselves. You’re likely facing a pregnancy that was unplanned, and placing a child for adoption was never something that you would have chosen for yourself, even though you feel it’s the best course of action.
Remember that we’re often our harshest critics. For many birth parents, forgiving themselves and feeling at peace with their choice to place a child took a long time. But take the first steps in that process now by being kind to yourself. You and your child both deserve to be happy, even if it’s not together. You’ll both go on to have lives filled with love and opportunity as you each grow. Speak kindly about yourself and think kind thoughts about yourself — you deserve to love yourself as much as you love your child!
5. Focus on the positive
Some days this will be easier said than done. There are a lot of things in your life right now that feel overwhelmingly difficult and painful. But try to think of five things every day that you’re grateful for or that you feel are a source of positivity in your life.
Reminding yourself that there are still positive things in your life is an instant mood-boost. Big or small — what are you grateful for today? What positive thing happened this week?
6. Take time to relax
When you’re dealing with an unplanned pregnancy and are making an adoption plan, relaxing probably isn’t very high on your list of priorities. But it needs to be. You and your baby both need it!
Try to set aside time specifically for relaxing. Even it’s just 20 minutes before bed where you can take a bath, do some yoga, meditate, go for a walk, listen to a podcast, read a book or get a massage, it will be worth it.
7. Stay in the moment
It’s hard not to worry about the future when you’re making an adoption plan. You’re thinking about what the baby’s future and what your future might look like, and you’re thinking about all the “what ifs.” But too much of that can wear you down.
Try to stand grounded in the present. Take things a step at a time, and it’ll feel less overwhelming and scary. You’re handling this — every day. You’ll keep handling it tomorrow, but for now, just focus on today and taking care of yourself.
Remember: Your thoughts about adoption may change from day to day, and that’s okay. You will always be the one to make the final decision about placement, no matter how far along in the process you are.
8. Get your mind off of things
Give yourself permission to think about something other than adoption or the baby for a bit. Call a friend to catch up, start a new book or binge-watch a new series. Get some exercise, cook something new, or take the kids to the zoo.
Sometimes we all just need a little mental “vacation” from difficult and stressful things in our lives. It’s okay to take a break for a day. You’ll likely feel refreshed.
9. Find positive outlets for your feelings
The adoption process can make you want to scream, cry, hug and everything in between. And that’s fine! It’s good to express whatever you’re feeling rather than bottling things up —just as long as you’re expressing those feelings in a healthy way.
Sometimes, when we’re in pain, we misdirect anger and frustration and take it out on others. Lashing out at your adoption specialist, the adoptive parents you’ve chosen or your own family will only damage relationships that will be important to you.
So instead, look for positive ways to channel all the emotions you’re experiencing, so that you can effectively and respectfully communicate your needs and feelings with the people who are important to you. These types of outlets are often helpful in the post-adoption healing process, as well. Find whatever works for you, but consider:
- Exploring creative outlets like music, art, dance, crafting, etc.
- Starting a journal
- Taking up a new hobby
- Beginning a new exercise regimen
- Talking with people who have placed a child for adoption
Self-care isn’t a luxury or something to be overlooked. It’s necessary for your physical and emotional well-being, and your baby will benefit, too. All those small things we do for ourselves each day that keep us healthy, strong and positive add up!
Remember that you can always reach out to your American Adoptions specialist for support during this time.