Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Dear Sugar: 5 Tips for the Woman on the Brink of Adoption Burnout

Dear Sugar:

This is for you, the woman on the brink of adoption burnout, from moi, a person who has been there many times over the course of the past ten years.  Yeah, that's a decade.  

If you haven't felt the burnout yet, you will.  I don't mean to be pessimistic.  Rather, I'm dishing you some truth.

Adoption burnout can result in a lot of colliding emotions (fear, anger, confusion, disappointment, apathy, frustration, hopelessness, discouragement) resulting from one's journey to adopt.  Usually one begins full of elation and bright-eyed anticipation, but as the weeks, months, even years go by, paper after paper is filled out, and all one does is wait (perhaps with major highs and lows as a result of a failed placement or referral), adoption burnout hits fast and hard.   And it's not fun.

If you are at the point where you have reached burnout, here are five practical tips:

1:  Read something encouraging.

Nothing is worse than the Internet or Lifetime/Hallmark adoption/surrogacy/nanny-seduces-husband flicks.  You need to shut off the screens and dive in to a good book.   My friend (who is an adoptee) Madeleine Melcher and I co-authored a book specifically for the hard times.  Encouragement for the Adoption and Parenting Journey:  52 Devotions and a Journal offers short, inspirational, honest chapters based in Scripture and personal experience to give you the hope you need to keep going. There's journaling space and discussion/reflection questions at the end of each chapter.  

2:  Get outdoors.

I cannot stress enough how too much indoor time is bad for you. For one, it can be so isolating to sit behind closed doors.  You need sunlight (vitamin D is a wonderful thing, friend), fresh air, and sky/birds tweeting/flowers blooming.  Go for a walk, lay on a lounge chair, or just step outside for a few minutes every day.   I promise it'll do wonders.  Better yet, take your book outside with you (two birds, one stone!).  

3:  Make a date.

I don't care who you date, whether it be your partner, a child you're already parenting, or a friend, but please make a date.  It doesn't take anything extravagant or expensive to make you feel like a new woman.  Coffee and conversation does the heart a whole lot of good.   Regularly scheduled dates (set aside one evening or morning a week) gives you something to look forward to.   

4:  Support.

Waiting to adopt can be really lonely.  I implore you to find an adoption support group and commit to attending.   A great group will have all triad members represented (adoptees, parents who have adopted, birth parents).  And before you think that adoption Facebook group will do, I want to remember point #3 (make a date), because there is NOTHING like eye contact, hugs and handshakes, and in-person conversation.    If you cannot muster up the courage (or energy) to attend an adoption support group in the moment, a good alternative is to find a counselor who understands adoption.  

5:  Treat yo'self.  

What makes you feel good?  Make a happy list and refer to it daily, because you know yourself best. Don't wait for someone else to bring you flowers or chocolate.   And yes, please make a physical list and then set reminders in your phone to do something from that list every.   single.   day.   Too many women insist on putting themselves last, which is, if you think about it, selfish not selfless.   You cannot give what you do not have, Sugar.   And it's important to create habits of self-care TODAY so that you will continue you to carry those out after you become a mom by adoption.  

Sugar, what would you add to the list?   What makes you feel good?  What helps you get out of your rut?

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this Rachel. This is me the last few days - BURNT OUT! We are on year 4 of the adoption wait. The year started out with us having to send our beloved foster son back to a home that we did not feel was meeting his medical needs. We were heartbroken. That had been followed by 3 months of too many "I'm sorry, they picked another family" calls & emails. We know God has called us to adopt again but after waiting 9 months and 1 month for our previous adoptions 4 years seems like an eternity! I finished your adoption devotion on year 2 of the wait & have pulled it back out recently to hopefully lift my spirits. Thank you for all the encouragement you give the adoption community! Michelle


Comments are moderated and published upon approval. Your thoughts and questions are also welcome via e-mail at whitebrownsugar AT hotmail DOT com.