Single Parenting and Adoption: How to Cope with Stress in Healthy, Sober Ways
The number of single-parent adoptions has increased substantially in the past few decades. The process of adopting a child can be stressful even for couples, but single parents who choose to adopt have a few more hurdles to face. For instance, birth mothers tend to select married couples, so the wait can be longer for single parents. Society – including friends, family, and strangers – may also pass unfair judgment on single parents.
Some people are naturally resilient to stress, while others may have a difficult time coping with the stress of the adoption process and the challenges that come with single parenting. In some cases, single parents turn to alcohol as a way to relieve and cope with stress. When not well-managed, this can increase an individual’s risk of addiction, which in turn has devastating consequences on the lives of both parent and child. Here’s how to cope in healthy, sober ways so that you can focus on giving your child the best possible life.
Be Prepared to Address Objections
As a single person hoping to adopt or having adopted a child, the odds are good that you may have to defend your decision to become a single parent. Rather than let these encounters stress you out, be prepared to address objections head-on when they arise. There are many valid points to counter the typical arguments against single individuals becoming adoptive parents.
Pointing out that you have a strong support system in place and close family members or friends of the opposite sex who can serve as a positive influence in your child’s life are compelling arguments that can counter many objections. Additionally, some may question a single person’s ability to manage the expense of raising a child; however, most single people who choose to adopt do so because they are financially stable, and physically and emotionally prepared to manage the ups and downs of parenthood.
Have a Strong Support System
What happens if you become ill or have to put in long hours at work? In two-parent households, the other parent can typically pick up the slack. That’s why it’s important to build a stable support network of family and friends you trust who are willing and able to help you when needed.
As a single parent, you’ll eventually need that help. Whether you come down with the flu and need an extra hand for a few days while you recover or you unexpectedly need to put in overtime at the office and need someone to pick up your child from school, your support network will be a lifesaver when the unexpected arises. An adoptive parent support group can provide emotional support and other resources to help you navigate parenthood as well. Below are a few resources to help you find an online or local adoptive parent support group:
- Database of Parent Groups
- State by State Support Groups
- How to Find Support Groups for Adoptive Parents
- Where to Find Adoption Support Groups
Get the Proper Legal Documents in Place
One of the biggest stressors single parents face is the future: what happens if you become terminally ill or have an accident that leaves you unable to care for your child? To eliminate the stress that comes with the unknown, getting the right legal documents in place that establish guardianship for your child and ensure that there are financial resources to provide for your child’s needs can offer peace of mind.
Below are a few informational resources to help you navigate the legal landscape and understand the various documents that you should prepare for your child’s future:
- Adoption Laws
- Necessary Legal Documents
- Adoptive Parents FAQ and Glossary
- Appointing a Legal Guardian
- Easy Guide to Legal Guardianship
- Setting Up a Trust Fund
- Inheritance Issues for Adopted Children
Establish a Plan for Discipline
In two-parent households, conflicts often arise between partners due to differing opinions on how discipline should be handled. As a single parent, discipline is entirely up to you, but that can lead to doubts and fears that you’re not handling every situation in the best way. If your child has previously suffered abuse, the issue of discipline becomes even more stressful to manage.
Establishing a framework in line with your values and your child’s background can guide you in disciplining your child. By having a clearly defined set of guidelines, you can reduce the stress that comes with discipline and more easily cope with the inevitable challenges of raising a child. Here are a few helpful resources on discipline techniques and strategies:
- Healthy Discipline for Adopted Children
- Child Discipline Techniques for Foster or Adopted Children
- Discipline and the Adopted Child
- Discipline in Older-Child Adoption
- Learning How to Discipline Adopted Children
Find a Healthy Outlet for Stress
Rather than turning to a glass of wine when you’re feeling stressed, find a healthy outlet that can help you clear your mind and relieve anxiety. It’s true that it can be more difficult to find the time to focus on your health and well-being, particularly as a single parent, but it can be done if you plan well. Tap into that support system and arrange for a friend or family member to watch your child while you go to the gym, for instance, or find a gym that offers childcare services on-site.
There are plenty of healthy outlets for stress; the challenge, rather than finding a healthy stress-relieving activity you enjoy, is often the guilt that comes with having someone else watch your child. Realize that single parents can’t do it all, and by taking the time you need to improve your own well-being, you’ll be better equipped to be the best parent you can be. Here are a few resources to help you find positive outlets for stress as a single parent:
- 10 Ways to Reduce Single-Parent Stress
- Managing Stress as a Single Parent
- 10 Ways to Reduce the Stress of Single Parenting
- 9 Ways to Cope as a Single Parent
Additional Resources for Single Adoptive Parents
Adopting a child as a single parent is an incredibly rewarding experience, yet it comes with its fair share of challenges, including the typical obstacles of parenthood, the hurdles of single parenting, and the unique challenges that can come with the adoptive child-parent relationship. For more helpful tips and valuable advice to help you navigate the adoption and parenting journey as a single parent, visit the following resources:
- ExpertBeacon has an informative article on strengthening the family bond by building trust and connections.
- Learn how to raise a confident child as a single parent in this article from EducateEmpowerKids.org.
- Parents.com offers valuable advice for overcoming the obstacles of adoption as a single parent.
- Angel Adoption has some important tips for single individuals who are hoping to adopt.
- Thinking about adopting a second child as a single parent? This article from Adoptive Families offers guidance.
- If you’re considering entering the dating scene as a single parent, these tips from FamilyLife.com will help.
- Care.com debunks several myths about single parent adoption in this article.
Parenting is a difficult but rewarding job, so don’t let its hardships discourage you. By preparing for the future, building a strong support system, and using healthy coping mechanisms rather than turning to alcohol to cope with stress, single parents can provide a healthy, happy life for an adopted child.