By Joshua Redfern // Utah Director of Social Work
Adoption is HARD. It’s hard for everyone involved. It’s hard to make decisions (for adoptive parents and expectant parents), it’s hard to do paperwork, “waiting is hard, being pregnant is hard, communicating with expectant parents/adoptive parents can be hard, deciding who to place with or if a placement is right for you is hard, the hospital is hard, failed placements are hard, successful placements can be hard, etc. And because it’s hard, we need to make sure we are taking care of ourselves.
Here are just a few simple idea on self-care that can make a difference:
Try not to think about adoption ALL OF THE TIME. Whether you’re an expectant/birth parent or adoptive parent, there is life outside of adoption. Work, school, play, family, friends. Make sure that you are giving proper time to other healthy and important things in your life.
Do something you enjoy or that relaxes you on a regular basis. Go read at the park once a week, have a special treat every once in a while, visit your grandma regularly, play a sport with friends every week, take a bubble bath every night. Whatever it is, make it a routine.
Join a support group of people going through similar things. There are local and online support groups for adoptive parents, expectant/parents and adoptees. Support each other through your journey.
Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone is on their own path. Our circumstances are just too different to be comparing ourselves to each other.
Go to Disneyland. Okay, maybe not Disneyland, but sometimes getting away somehow is best. After a failed match, my wife and I and our two kids left town immediately and just spent time together and away from reality a bit.
Focus on the positive. Wonderful things are happening around you, even in the darkest of times. Find joy in those things. In my opinion, joy and sadness can co-exist. Letting the sunshine in a little doesn’t betray the fact that you may be struggling in some areas—but it can help you get through those difficult times.
There’s much more you can do, but this is a general start. Sometimes you need to REALLY focus on self-care. Make sure you check in with yourself during particularly difficult times to make sure you are taking steps to make sure you are cared for. A good pity party is okay every once in a while, but more important is taking care of yourself.