Here are some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on adoption.
DS has been with us for over a month, and I am slowly starting to feel like I am keeping my head above water. But my self-esteem - other parents seem to just be amazing- is pretty low and I also feel conflicted about having basically given up my life as I knew it. I definitely have a bit of the 'be grateful you got what you wanted' thing going on, but it is such a shock to the system, the whole parent thing. So pour some guilt on top, too. Hard to get time for myself - even to go to the loo in peace! Argh. I am afraid of letting DS down but also of myself disappearing. Sorry this is so long!
Give yourself a break. You have had a massive life change, no amount of preparation can really prepare you. You are settling your DS, putting his needs first, you had massive hoops to jump and you have to grieve for your old life
I think adoption is like jumping in on a moving skipping rope, so much has already happened and so much to learn
And the never ending stream of social workers to check things are going well
Don't expect too much of yourself and congratulations
These are such early days, so be kind to yourself. I understand those feelings. I felt so inadequate as a mum and didn't really have a clue what I was doing (still feel like that often!).
I also felt like I was disappearing. I wanted to be able to do the really simple things like going out with the dog by myself for an hour or so, but didn't get the chance. It is the hardest thing I've ever done, but gradually I got into a routine and slowly regained a balance whereby i do get 'me-time'. I still rarely get the opportunity to have a wee without DD asking me what I'm doing, or wanting me to read a book.
I don't have some grand words of wisdom I'm afraid, only that it my case, time helped and things fell into place. Please don't compare yourself to other parents. I'm sure you're doing great
Please don't be hard on yourself it is still early days. Parenthood is definitely a really big shock to the system! Also it is not helpful when everyone around you seems to be the perfect parent and finding it all very easy. It may appear that way anyway when you are feeling low, but believe me most new parents feel exactly as you do right now at some stage. I am pretty sure you will start to feel more in control of things by 2-3 months. Have you found a good parent and child group to go to where you can share in the ups and downs of parenting? The first one I tried I was ignored by the yummy mummies and felt worse, but things picked up when I tried a second one with some great people who did not mind admitting their mistakes and feelings (what a blessing). Also, it may not be appropriate at this stage I don't know, but a local playgroup a couple of times a week gave me a wee breathing space to face the rest of the week when things got on top of me (DH had to work nights away and DS did not sleep through the night for the first 3 years or eat his food without a fuss). Take one day at a time and things will get easier. Take any help offered; it does not mean that you are useless and cannot cope. Good luck, you will be a brilliant parent .
I felt exactly the same, redfish. A few weeks ago I hit my lowest point and posted on here and the support was amazing. I took the advice that worked for me and I have my head above water again.
My thread was "please can somebody help me" .
My loss of identity hit me hard. I took up a hobby I hadn't done since I was a child (of an evening after lights out) and I felt better being back in touch with who I was. I read that if you want to find your true self think what was important to you at 10. Younger than that and you try and please your parents. Older than that and you try and please your peers. That really helped me. Small I know but maybe something you can latch on to. Sorry if it's not tangible enough.
Goodness if you feel like you're "slowly starting to feel like I am keeping my head above water" then you're doing way better than I was a month in.
Sorry to those who have heard this story a million times but between about 2-3 months I decided that I was never going to be happy again. I felt overwhelmed by the responsibility of DS and not being me anymore but if I went out without him for an hour or two, I felt like I'd had a limb removed and it just didn't feel quite right. I felt unsettled and jumpy and couldn't enjoy just being me on my own. Destined, I decided, to be unhappy forever - not happy with him and not happy without him. Woe was me.
I also took a little while to bond with him and the fact that everyone kept telling me how fantastic and cute and lovely he was just made me feel even worse. Of course he was I could see that, I just couldn't feel it. I didn't think he would ever feel truly like mine and I had to make my mind up to just be the best parent I could be for him however inadequate that was (very pious and worthy of me) but in a strange way it did give me something to hold on to. I didn't have to be the perfect parent, I didn't ever have to love him, I just had to do the best that I could because he needed me to do that.
In a way that acceptance that it didn't need to work out perfectly and be rosy it just needed to be good enough was the turning point for me - it took off the pressure I'd put on myself to be perfect and so I didn;t have to worry so much about getting it wrong and not being good enough and not bonding with him etc
The other more pragmatic (and less wordy!) thing which helped was my mum offered to babysit once a week from 6.30-8pm on a friday night so I could go to an acqua class at the pool. It saved my sanity until I went back to work (and frankly even afterwards!)
kitty is right - try to find one thing which people suggest which works for you - you'll probably find even one small prop enough to get you through the first few months.
Another one here who completely empathises. It does get easier and you work out ways of coping.
One month in to such a huge life changing situation really is no time at all. Be kind to yourself. Don't compare to anyone else and having had both birth and an adopted child I can promise you that one month in with my adopted LO was by far the hardest time in my life. I'm only 6 months down the line but it has become more normal.
I've also realised that it's important for me to find the time to exercise. I always exercised for 30 minutes most evenings- just a run or DVD but this fell by the wayside when LO arrived? I've only now realised how much I need that time to do something for me and clear my head a bit. It might be something else that matters to you but try to regain something that's 'you' if that makes sense.
Just realised I've just repeated everyone else's advice of finding some me time, sorry! Got carried away and started waffling.
One month in after having BOTH my children (one birth, one adopted) I was losing my marbles, frankly. It's really tough because all the things that would actually help - like a babysitter, a holiday, a day trip to Croydon BY YOURSELF - are completely impossible. You really do have to grit your teeth and wait it out. Oh, and taking your foot off your own neck will help too.
Honestly, i could not have adopted a lovelier or more loving girl, but my overwhelming emotion in those early months was resentment towards her. Selfless angel that I am.
Be as nice to yourself as you can manage. Post on here for support. Eat cake. It will start getting better soon, I promise.
The loss of your identity and time to yourself was a major thing for me and I spent a lot of the first two months crying on my husband's shoulder each evening. Slowly everything becomes easier and more normal, until its like they were always yours.
We were worried we would never love them, then one day you just look at them and feel a huge protective surge of love that takes your breath away. It can take a while but you'll get there.
Try and make sure you get some time for yourself - that is the biggest thing of all. It helps you cope and stay 'you', and happy parents make happy kids.
Oh and DON'T ever compare yourself to other parents! They're not you, their kids are different to yours, and they probably don't tell the truth anyway
redfishbluefish it will pass I am sure, you will feel more like you.
Sleep when they sleep, get rest when you can and so whatever you can to keep a tiny bit of you around because soon you will get more time. So if you love painting just try and do a bit with your new child doing their painting beside you, or whatever it may be, if you do it when they go to bed etc.
Don't compare yourself to anyone else, how can you, you have no idea how much they are failing, succeeding, sinking , drowning of faking!
Everyone has so far said what I would have said as well! We are 5 months into having our DD with us, she is 21 months old now. For the first 8-10 weeks I honestly thought I had made the worst mistake of my life. I didn't know what to do with this little Duracell bunny of a toddler.
I felt completely and utterly overwhelmed and physically sick with anxiety over it. Like you and as others have said, the "losing who you are" bit was the worst part. I had had a stressful responsible job for almost 20 years and a happy 10 year marriage to a lovely husband. We work shifts so after night shifts it wasn't unusual to lounge about in PJ's watching This Morning with copious cups of tea and biscuits. Both off this weekend? Hey let's book a mini break. Day off on my own? I'll meander into town, read a paper in a cafe, buy a book, browse M+S, have lunch out and head back and prepare dinner. All.that.stopped.on October.10th...
I cried every day, H who luckily had a month off with Pat leave and annual leave frequently had to "mind the baby" and make excuses to family members as to why I was "upstairs with a headache" I told our SW that they may have to take DD back to her FF because I didn't think I wanted to do this anymore.
I got counselling arranged through work. It was really very helpful. It gave me the chance to blurt all my fears out to a stranger who had no vested interest in DD. She calmly reassured me that whT I was feeling was the normal feelings almost all parents get in the first few weeks of having a baby. It's HUGE, it's someone elses life that you have responsibility for and to add to the pressure, they are adopted!
I slowly started to do the things others are suggesting here. I went along to some toddler groups, I joined a Monkey Music group and I'm slowly getting to know and love our gorgeous little girl. So much so that we handed in our AO paperwork last week. Our SW was hugely supportive, she visited weekly, sometimes x 2 and just let me cry/talk. She put me in touch with another adopter via e mail who had had serious wobbles post placement. That was very helpful, just knowing that you're not the only one.
I too try my hardest to have some "me" time. Before DD I went to a Rock Choir every Thursday evening for 3 years. I REALLY missed this and went back as soon as I possibly could. Now of course i can't go if H is working but when he's not I'm out that door like a shot! He's been working all week and last week and said to me earlier that he'll look after DD Saturday afternoon so that I can go out. Thank god, I'm desperate to get my eyebrows done ;-)
Sorry for the epic reply, just wanted you to know that others have felt the same way and as the weeks go by you will suddenly realise you are living life as a new you and that it's just as good if not better than before, xx
Just a thought re parent groups - is there any kind of attachment parent type group near you? I tend to find them much less judgemental, much less likely to wonder why you don't just tell your kid off sharply when they tantrum and much more likely to have a wide spread of ages and experiences. That helps because when you're struggling with, for example, sleep but refusing to 'just let them cry' the world can be a bloody lonely place.
I know groups in London so if you're near here pm me?
I have not adopted, but had real problems bonding with my first child, and in the end I lived by the mantra "fake it until you make it".
I felt that I had made the worst decision of my life, "what have I done was never far from my thoughts"
I could imagine these feelings may be a much heightened when you adopt.
Any new parent feels like this, how will things ever be normal again?
I do not wish to offend as I know I have no experience of adopting but many if the things you said in your post seemed so similar to my experience of first time parenthood.
I wish you good luck and best wishes. I am sure you will get many more helpful posts than mine, but really felt I wanted to answer your post.
I wept because I couldn't push the bloody backwards facing pram properly.
Thanks everyone so much. I got pretty emotional reading all your responses-so thoughtful and heartfelt, I really appreciate all your pieces of advice and understanding...I also had a few chuckles. But it is really good to be reminded not compare myself to other parents, I am not the worst one and I am not the only one who finds it hard! Copper13, I was impressed that you were able to have such sincere discussions
with and support from sw-I'm afraid ours is utterly useless and has pretty much zero interest in us-we didn't go with her 'perfect' child that she suggested and went out of our LA. She actually complained to us that time spent on X children is time away from Y children, ie in her LA. Never mind that she is supposed to be our advocate!
DS is 3 and I have a DH, but he works very long hours, so it doesn't help my feeling a bit alone. MyFeet, DS is all about the helping/doing it himself, but that is generally more me trying to help him learn how to do things and/or think up little jobs for him to do. It is ok, but sometimes I just want to get things done...Namechanges, will pm you.
As many have suggested, I think I need to find some small thing for myself to do. DH and I are slowly trying to get DS used to MIL for babysitting purposes, but that is a work in progress. DS used to go to nursery when he lived with FCs, and he really enjoyed it. I'd like for him to get back into that kind of environment, but DH and I feel it is still early days.
I do feel a little better today, not least because of all your support. I can't tell you how much it means to me. Devora, as you say, there's always cake. And I took you up on that and took DS to a cafe to share a cake over coffee and milk!
Kew: I sympathise! Not totally the same timing, but the first time I went on a bus with DS and pushchair, I nearly got kicked off for failing to understand the 'etiquette' of pushchairmanship. Lol one of the problems I have found as a new mother of a toddler is that everyone expects you to know everything about how yo do things (I mean strangers).
Copper13: congrats on submitting you AO paperwork! What a milestone!
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