Bringing home a new baby is an exciting and joyful time. But with the joy and excitement come the inevitable stressors of parenthood: lack of sleep, lots of laundry, and difficulty doing the most routine of tasks (even finding time for a shower can be tough!). No matter how well you’ve prepared for the arrival of your little one, it can be difficult to find your groove in the midst all the changes that a new baby brings. This is true for both biological and adoptive parents, but infant adoption comes with its own special considerations for settling in.
Most families that adopt have worked for months or years to make their dream of adoption a reality. They have likely spent ample time and money to make this dream come true, as well as taken every step towards creating the ideal environment for a baby. As such, adoptive moms and dads are sometimes surprised that they aren’t perfect parents or completely overjoyed every second of every day once baby comes home. This reality may cause disappointment, guilt, and even depression.
Recent studies have shown that it isn’t just biological mothers who suffer from the baby blues or depression after birth--as much as 8% of adoptive parents show signs of the blues. There’s even a new term for this phenomenon: post-adoption depression. This is brought on in no small part by fatigue, as well as the difference between one’s expectations and the realities of child rearing, among other things.
One adoptive mother who was diagnosed as having post adoption depression explains that in her particular situation, she didn’t feel that she was “allowed” to take maternity leave, ask for help from friends and family, or let on to anyone how tough it was to have a newborn. She felt it wasn’t her “right” as someone who had worked so hard for infant adoption, and who had not gone through the physical toll of pregnancy and childbirth, to ask for any sort of help or special treatment.
In her case, she was able to eventually recognize her symptoms for what they were and seek help from friends, family, and her doctor. It was hard, but she learned to let others know what she needed and to have more realistic expectations of herself. She found that those around her were eager to help and offer the support she and her husband needed to make the transition to parenthood.
Of course, the best thing to do is get this help early on and avoid suffering the baby blues altogether. Here are some tips that will help you through the settling in period after your infant adoption:
1) Have realistic expectations of yourself, your spouse, and your baby. None of you will be perfect, and that’s okay.
2) Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for help. Lack of sleep and the constant demands of a newborn are no joke. No matter how much you love your little one, you will get tired, and you will need help. Take it when it’s offered, and ask for it if it isn’t. You’ll be a better parent for it.
3) Don’t be afraid to ask professionals for help. Whether you’re the adoptive mother or father, if you find yourself feeling down for more than a few days, talk to your family doctor.
Taking these three easy steps will help you be the best parent you can be for your new little one.