Blog// LGBT Adoptive Parents

Regaining Compassion After Adoption Fatigue

There may be times where adoptive parents feel discouraged, and they will need support and guidance to help them regain their footing and get back on path.

The adoption process is stressful, and adoptive parents can experience that stress at any time. One of the ways adoptive parents might experience stress is due to behaviors of their adoptive child. Adopted children may have gone through a variety of traumatic experiences in their lives, including but not limited to


  • prenatal stress or harm

  • difficult labor or birth

  • early hospitalization

  • abuse 

  • neglect

  • trauma

When faced with these traumatic experiences, children develop strategies to cope that are focused on self-preservation, and these protective behaviors might continue after joining their adoptive families. 


While the adoptive parents know the child is safe with them, the child may not recognize that right away, causing them to resist the adoptive parents’ attempts to connect and build attachment. This resistance can make adoptive parents feel a sense of failure and the consistent rejection may lead the parents to shut down in a way that allows them to still meet their child’s needs, but no longer attempt an emotional connection.

These traumas may cause behaviors that can be challenging for adoptive parents to navigate. 


How to Help Adoptive Parents Feeling Discouraged

When faced with certain behaviors from their adoptive child, adoptive parents may struggle with feeling as though they still love their child but can’t like or enjoy them. This may cause them to feel overwhelming shame and despair that may lead them to isolate themselves from others. The best way to help adoptive parents is to foster a relationship with them based on honesty so they may feel they can trust you enough to be open.


Signs to look for in adoptive parents experiencing discouragement and shutting down of emotions include:


  • defensive and guarded behaviors

  • appearing to be burnt out, chronically overwhelmed, or fatigued

  • irritability towards family and friends

  • isolation

  • shame

  • lost pleasure in parenting 

Parents experiencing feelings of discouragement and a block in their ability to care for their child want help, but struggle to find it or feel comfortable receiving it. It takes someone, such as a licensed therapist or a seasoned adoptive parent who went through a similar experience, showing they care for the parents and taking the time to help the parents regulate their emotions.


Often the focus is on the child, but the best way to  help an adoptive parent work through this challenging experience is to focus on them and their feelings. When the parents feel they are receiving compassion and acceptance, they are more likely to be willing to work towards regaining their own compassion and building a desire to try again to develop a connection with their adoptive child.


CSS - Blog fix