Stress Management for Adopting Parents


River RocksEvery change we experience is stressful, even positive change.

Managing your stress—eustress (a beneficial reaction that galvanizes you to perform, achieve, or overcome; feeling positive and fulfilled) versus distress (feeling overwhelmed, often temporary acute mental and physical suffering) is up to you.

Stress versus Distress : Yerkes Dodson Curve

Stress versus Distress : Yerkes-Dodson Curve

Adoption is right up there with the top stressful events in a person’s life such as the death of a spouse, family member, or a close friend; divorce; illness or injury; or the loss of a job and financial hardship.

You are not in control of the adoption timeline or its outcome. The adoption process challenges your patience, can make you feel judged, and is expensive. These facts result in high levels of stress, resulting in adrenaline responses such as distractibility, anxiety, irritability, the reduced ability to fight disease and illness, fatigue, and sleep disturbances. What can you do to manage your stress?

Change the perception of the stress you experience:

  • Look for the positive.
    • Your child is being cared for.
    • You are welcoming a child into the family or becoming a parent for the first time.
  • Work on your patience.
  • Go deeper into yourself. Explore your values, gifts, and areas that need work.
  • Explore your faith or your beliefs.
  • Prepare to be the best parent and role model possible.
    • Your adopted child will be stressed.
    • Any siblings at home will be under stress. Your kids will match you emotionally.

Alleviate the stress you experience:

  • Exercise.
  • Eat nourishing non-processed foods.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Make deep breathing a priority. Many of us do not breathe correctly.
  • Meditate or visualize daily.
  • Journal or write daily.
  • Practice yoga.
  • Surround yourself with objects that stimulate and please your five senses, such as candles, music, walking in nature, and water.
  • Sit in silence and just “be.”
  • Simplify, prioritize and set your schedule.
  • Learn to say “no.”
  • Do something important to you.
  • Pray
  • Volunteer
  • Laugh and cry when you need to.
  • Utilize a support group.

Remember, stress management is avoiding stress, dealing with situations as they arise, and recovering from the adrenaline response. The stress of adoption is an opportunity for you to grow. How well you manage your stress correlates to your adopted child’s psychosocial adjustment to her adoption.

For Discussion: What is the most stressful aspect of the adoption process for you? How are you addressing it?

~ Photo WoodleyWonderWorks

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