Anxiety in Adoptive Parents

By Kristine Tucker
An adopted child's unknown medical background can lead to anxiety.
An adopted child's unknown medical background can lead to anxiety.

Adopting a child can be rewarding and fulfilling, but plenty about the process can be stressful. The pre-adoption process is often long and frustrating, and suddenly caring for a child, no matter how wanted, can touch off plenty of anxiety. The quick onset of parenthood can make daily responsibilities seem overwhelming. Anxiety is a normal feeling when you adopt a child, so don't be too hard on yourself when you feel uncertainty about your decision.

Pre-Adoption Concerns

Adoptive parents usually experience anxiety during the pre-adoption process. Frequent interviews, background checks, financial analyses, case-worker inspections and home visits leading up to an adoption are all stressful events. According to adoptive mother Jana Wolff in "Adoptive Families" magazine, potential adoptive parents strive to have the perfect home, pleasant personalities and financial security so a case worker will find them suitable for adopting. It can be stressful trying to maintain a perfect image throughout the entire process. Anxiety about the birth mother also makes the pre-adoption process stressful. There's always a chance the birth mother will change her mind and decide to keep the baby. Even after the baby is born, an adoptive parent doesn't have relief until the final papers are signed and the baby is legally handed over.

Health Concerns

In certain situations, you may receive minimal information about the child's personal and medical history. As an adoptive parent, you may wonder whether your child's genetics make her susceptible to childhood diseases or other major illnesses. You may wonder about the birth mother's habits during pregnancy -- for example, did she smoke or drink? You may wonder if your child's every little cough, sneeze or ailment is a sign of something more than a cold. Regular checkups can ease some of those fears, so don't be afraid to make an appointment with your pediatrician.


You haven't had nine months of pregnancy to get accustomed to having a child, and feelings of inadequacy are common. You might even ask yourself, "Is this baby really mine?" According to, adoptive parents experience feelings similar to postpartum depression. Many adoptive parents spend years trying to conceive and months or years pursuing adoption, so finally attaining that goal can be overwhelming. Suddenly, you have baby expenses, medical bills, child-rearing responsibilities and someone who's totally dependent on you. Reality settles in, and you may anxiously wonder whether you are good enough to handle your new role. Just take it one day at a time. Eventually, you'll get used to your new routine and realize you're qualified for the job.


During the adoption process and after bringing home a child, parents often worry whether they'll have a connection with their new family member. If they have other biological children, they may feel anxiety, wondering whether they'll feel the same type of love for their adopted child as they do for their biological children. Wolff says bonding doesn't always take place immediately. It might not be love at first sight, and it could take some time for your heart to develop feelings of passionate love. Bonding is a process that's unique to every situation. Don't rush it, and don't feel anxious if it doesn't happen overnight.

About the Author

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.