Support and Resources for Adoptive Parents
Adoption isn’t a process that ends in a courtroom, or at 18 when your child is “grown up.” Adoption is a lifelong journey. Once the child is legally yours, the work doesn’t stop, and neither does the need for support.
One of the most important lessons adoptive parents can learn is that it’s completely understandable and acceptable to ask for help. Adoptive parents may have trouble embracing their new status as “parent” and may feel at times like they’re caring for someone else’s child. After the initial excitement and anticipation wear off, it’s normal to feel exhausted, and maybe even depressed. It’s normal for the child to experience conflicting emotions, as well. After the initial “honeymoon” stage, they may exhibit behaviors that test your commitment. Other family members may struggle to adjust, as well.
Finding supportive services that are tailored to adoptive families can help. The best place to start is your adoption agency. Most agencies offer post-adoption support and services, as well as referrals to potentially helpful programs.
Many adoptive families find the following services to be helpful:
Support groups—whether online or in person—give parents an opportunity to connect with other adoptive parents to discuss their feelings in a safe environment, to receive support, and to learn new strategies. Support groups can validate your experiences and let you know that you’re not alone in your journey.
Counselors or Therapists
Finding a counselor trained in adoption-related support is imperative. The parents, the adopted child and family members all could benefit from this service.
Educational advocates help parents of children with special needs understand their child’s educational rights. They also work with the school system to identify programs and services to help the child. You can read more about educational support here.
Respite care can give families a short break from their day-to-day challenges. It could be as simple as a sleepover with grandma so that parents can have a date night, or as intensive as having an agency organize more extended time away, with access to support services.
Adoption subsidies are available to some families to help with the costs of caring for children with special needs. You can learn more about them here.