How To Be There For Your Partner During The Adoption Process

Adopting a child is an extraordinary gift for families. Whether it's a couple who can't have a biological child of their own or a couple who would prefer to adopt so as to give a child a home and family, it's one of the most altruistic responsibilities that someone can take on. But while adoption is a great thing for everyone involved, it's also stressful. You can't simply walk into an adoption agency and walk out with a child. It involves mountains of paperwork, background checks, and other details that can be exhausting and really take a toll on a couple.

"The adoption process is lengthy and complicated and it depends on so many factors, including whether or not you are adopting domestically or internationally," psychologist Juli Fraga, Psy.D. tells Woman's Day. "It requires a lot of time and patience and emotional and psychological support."

It's this support that you and your partner need to give each other. This isn't just about lightening the daily load of tasks and chores around the house, but really going above and beyond in being there for each other. Adoption is an emotional journey in which love, empathy, and physical and mental presence are paramount.

Make sure your partner knows you're a team

Although partnerships already see themselves as a team, it's important to really reinforce this mentality during the process of adoption. It's not just your partner who's adopting, you're adopting too, so letting them know you're in it together, no matter the emotional toll or outcome, will give them a sense of security even when things feel confusing and uncertain.

"We learn the most about a person when they are placed in stressful situations; that's when someone's true colors show," relationship expert Tiffany Toombs tells Bustle. "Couple[s] can practice ... resilience and team problem solving by engaging regularly in leisure activities that push them to grow as a person."

While there's no trial run for being a parent, working through everything that arises as a team, as well as giving your partner a safe space to vent, cry, be disappointed and frustrated — all of the emotions that can be stirred by the adoption process — all while reassuring them that you're in this together for better or worse will strengthen your bond tenfold. It's important to let them know that no matter what happens, you're still a team and you'll figure it out.

Show your gratitude through small gestures

When faced with a stressful situation, some tend to forget how important it is to take care of themselves emotionally, mentally, and physically. They may forget to eat, don't sleep as soundly as usual, or don't take the necessary time to focus on self-care. This is where you, as their partner, need to step up and focus on the things they may be letting slide. Showing them you're aware of their struggles is the perfect opportunity to express your gratitude. Doing so during this particularly trying time can make a big difference in your partner's — and your — mental well-being.

"Saying and doing small, simple expressions of gratitude every day yields big rewards," professor at Oakland University and author of "5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great" Terri Orbuch, Ph.D. tells Greatist. "When people feel recognized as special and appreciated, they're happier in that relationship and more motivated to make the relationship better and stronger. And when I say simple, I really mean it. Make small gestures that show you're paying attention."

It can't be stressed enough that the adoption process, in addition to being time-consuming, can be anxiety-inducing and overwhelming. But while it's far from a walk in the park, when all is said and done, it will have been worth it. So in the meantime, be as present as possible, listen to your partner and their concerns, and let them know you have their back every step of the way.