This guest post is by Rachel Garlinghouse, an adoptive parent and author.
1. She’s cocooning.
Children who were adopted, whether at birth or an older age, need time and space to bond with their new parents. Likewise, the parents need to bond with the child.
Though everyone is banging on the proverbial door to greet the new child, the family needs time just to be. Sometimes this is out of absolute necessity: a child who is withdrawing from drugs, a child who has faced neglect or abuse, a child who has special needs.
And sometimes it’s out of desire: the need to begin feeling like a real family and to strengthen the ties between family members.
2. She’s feeling blue.
Most of us have heard of post-partum depression, but did you know that there’s such a thing as post-adoption depression? Surprisingly, the two are similar.
The mother has gone through so many changes (physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually), the stress of new motherhood (sometimes to a high-needs child), the financial strain (adoption can be very expensive), and the guilt of parenting another mother’s child (feeling as though there is obligation to both the child’s first mother and the child).
There’s also any other children the mom has and a partner and their needs.
3. She’s overwhelmed.
I remember the moment I stepped through the threshold of the door of the home of my daughter’s interim caregivers. With a few seconds, I went from being outside and not a mother, to entering into their home and being handed a newborn baby girl: instant motherhood!
I had no pregnancy to gradually prepare me for my role. Being a mom for the first time was overwhelming: the round-the-clock feedings, the lack of sleep, the learning curve.
Combine this with the complex emotions of being a new mother to a child who had just left her first mother, and I was definitely feeling overwhelmed with my new life.
4. She’s adjusting.
She cannot fathom balancing caring for her new child, working, being civil to her partner, buying groceries, and maintaining friendships.
She barely has time to shower, and her food is always lukewarm, if not cold by the time she has a few moments to eat. That morning exercise class is no longer a reality; instead it’s a distant memory. She’s getting used to her new normal.
5. She’s exhausted.
A new mom’s exhaustion is complex. She’s not just physically tired from the needs and demands of her new child, but she’s emotionally tired, having traveled every possible peak and valley.
She’s spiritually drained and perhaps simultaneously experiencing a “cup runneth over.” She’s facing a mental tennis match, bouncing between ideas, conversations, and expectations. Mama is tired!
Give your adoptive mama friend or family member time to work out the kinks. She needs your support, encouragement, and grace. Send her a card or text. Leave a surprise cup of coffee or a bouquet on her doorstep. Drop off dinner. Soon enough, she’ll be available again, she just needs some time.
Rachel Garlinghouse is the author of five books, including the popular Come Rain or Come Shine: A White Parent’s Guide to Adopting and Parenting Black Children. Her adoption writings and experiences have been shared on MSNBC, Huffington Post, abcnews.com, Yahoo!, NPR, Huffington Post Live, Scary Mommy, Today Parents, Babble, Medium, Fatherly, The Good Men Project, and many more. Rachel and her family reside in St. Louis. To learn more about her family’s adventures, go to White Sugar, Brown Sugar.
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