One of the biggest challenges of adopting a child is adjusting to parenthood. This can be especially hard for couples who both work. Balancing work and family life is difficult for every working couple, but adoptive parents have their own particular challenges as well. Learn some of the biggest challenges for working adoptive parents and what you can do to prevent them.
Challenges to Work & Family Balance
Being Away from Home
The biggest challenge to balancing work and family after adopting is simply being away from home. Spending time out of the house after you adopt can be difficult, especially for parents of very young children or children with special needs.
Lack of Sleep
With young children, it can be challenging to get enough sleep to function properly outside the house. Being low on sleep can also make you stressed and irritable at work, making it harder for you to be productive as well.
Lack of Support
If you and your partner are both working, you may feel like you need extra support from family or friends to cope. Unfortunately for many working couples it can be hard to get support from others, especially if you live far from family or don’t have many close friends. This can leave new adoptive parents feeling isolated or overworked.
Child Adjustment Problems
When you adopt a child, there is a chance you’ll have to deal with adjustment issues alongside more common work-family issues. Adopting an older child often means dealing with previous problems, and these can be exacerbated by both parents going back to work.
Much like a new mother after giving birth, many new adoptive parents find themselves battling post-adoption depression after their adoptions are finalized. The expectation of being an adoptive parent can be very different from the reality. This dissonance can lead to parents feeling confused or depressed after adopting, especially in combination with the other issues above.
Tips for Balancing Family and Work
Be Patient With Yourself
One of the most important things for new adoptive parents to realize is that every parent has challenges to face. Often the best way to deal with these problems is simply to give yourself time and be patient. Many of the challenges adoptive parents face are temporary and will solve themselves with time. For instance, a baby will eventually settle into a sleep schedule that allows you to get enough rest, and after a while you’ll find a routine that works for your work and family together. The key is simply giving yourself time to reach these milestones and not stressing about reaching them.
Get Help From Others
It’s common for new adoptive parents to try to do everything themselves to make sure it’s all done “their way.” While your intentions might be good, overworking yourself is a sure path to stress and unhappiness. Instead, look around for help from friends or family, or even enlist childcare assistance to take away some of the burden. As you’re adjusting to being a new parent you’ll need to think about what’s best for your entire family. Sometimes that means taking a step back and recuperating while you let someone else provide some help. You can also seek help from your adoption agency – many have counseling and support services for adoptive parents that can help you with many challenges of parenthood.
Ask for Flexibility
When you’re returning to work after adopting, you may need some extra time or flexibility to get the details in your schedule ironed out. The best way to achieve this is simply to ask for it. Many workplaces are happy to offer the same kind of schedule adjustments to adoptive parents as they are to parents who just gave birth. You may also be able to make arrangements to work at home or adjust your work hours. This can make childcare issues easier and help balance the parenting load with your partner.
Set a Strong Routine
It can be difficult, but one of the best ways to cope with the stresses of parenting and work-life balance is to set and keep a strong routine. Children, especially very young ones, benefit from simple routines. A routine will also help you set your own expectations and make plans easier. Of course, the biggest challenge is keeping a routine in the face of varied challenges and situations. However, if you do manage to stick to your routine as much as possible you’ll have an easier time facing unexpected problems.
Being an adoptive parent is challenging in many ways. Deaconess Pregnancy and Adoptions helps adoptive parents with all aspects of the adoption process and long after the adoption is finalized. To learn more, call us today at (405) 949-4200 or visit our Facebook page for more tips and help.