The challenges of adoption

May 14, 2021

We last checked in with Lee and Kelly in October, just as they had been approved as adopters.  Now 8 months down the line they have completed their adoption process and are adapting and settling into their new family life.

We caught up with Lee and Kelly again as part of Mental Health Awareness Week to see how they are getting on, finding out if they have any mental health advice for adopters.

“Adoption can be a challenging process, says Lee

“It can create real challenges for peoples mental health.

“The anxiety that comes with those important “firsts” during the introductions phase…”

“The first meeting, the first meal together, the first night’s sleep and so on” adds Kelly.

“To the risks of falling into depression when things do not go quite to plan, you may find yourself faced with difficult days” concludes Lee.

“Some days have been harder than others and I have felt the weight of the world on my shoulders when I should have been revelling in a happy experience”

“There are lots of factors that can affect our mental health and, in some cases, these factors are more relevant at different times during the adoption process.

“Huge decisions, lots of effort involved in following the process, sensitive issues brought up along the way. Even entering the process at the beginning can bring with it a lot of stress and pressure” says Lee.

“We wanted to start a family and began our adoption journey after a miscarriage sent us down a different path to the one we had been following for years” says Kelly.

Lee adds, “For our family, there have been a number of challenges during the adoption process.  Some days have been harder than others and I have felt the weight of the world on my shoulders when I should have been revelling in a happy experience.

“As for our adopted son, the process introduces an element of trauma no matter how well it is handled.”

“We were very lucky that so many people helped us to make the process as smooth as it could be though, says Kelly, “our social worker Ruth has been there throughout it all with us and is a rock.

“There were dark days but there was also light to chase away the shadows.”

“The most important advice I can give is to be honest, both with yourself and the people around you who you can rely on to help you”

Lee and Kelly are not sharing their story to put anybody off adoption. Far from it, they believe the tough times are justified compared with the joys and rewards, both for the adopter and the child.

Lee and Kelly’s experience of the adoption process has been generally positive and they both recommend adoption as an option to anyone but, and especially so this week, it is important to acknowledge that the process does put a strain on people’s mental health.

Lee is an active campaigner for mental health awareness; he began as a Mental Health Champion in an organisation he used to work for and has worked recently on the high profile ‘Time to Change Wales’ campaign.

Lee says, “The most important advice I can give is to be honest, both with yourself and the people around you who you can rely on to help you.

“It can be hard to start a conversation about how you are feeling but by being open and trusting in the right people, it can be the first step towards improving your wellbeing.”

The theme of Mental Health Awareness Week this year is nature and you can find plenty of opportunities to manage your mental health in nature. From brisk exercise in the park to a visit to the seaside, find time to get out into nature and look after yourself when you feel challenged.

By taking care of yourself, you can take care of your whole family throughout the adoption journey.

Lee also recommends:-

  • support provided by your adoption agency, Social Workers and other professionals around Social Services
  • your own support network including family, friends, neighbours and the people who will be there for you
  • mental health support services, which you can access from speaking to your doctor or charities such as The Samaritans or Mind
  • access resources such as online videos, blogs and podcasts about mental health to learn more about ways to improve your wellbeing

Please remember to follow our social media for more mental health advice and self care tips.  For more information on our support services please click here.

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