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Your relationship and adopting

The transition from a couple to an adopting parent can put a significant strain both on individuals and the couple’s relationship.

There are shifts in the circumstances and life of adopters from independent professionals, to overnight becoming new parents, daughters become mothers, and sons become fathers. Parenting naturally shifts attention to the child and couples can find the energy and time to care for themselves and each other is diminished.

It is therefore no surprise that adopters report an increase in stress and conflict and reductions in relationship satisfaction within the first year of adopting.

Shapiro, Gottman and Carrere (2000).

A healthy relationship is important for a developmentally healthy child and poor adult relationships result in poor child to adult relationships.

Many parents choose to adopt after fertility issues and they must come to terms with loss, grief and guilt caused by infertility.

They may have to deal with difficulties the adopted child suffers such as alcohol and narcotics syndrome, aggression, attachment issues, learning needs etc.

Investing time and space into your relationship can be extremely beneficial. Taking time out together regularly, dates, setting up babysitting arrangements from early on, once the child is settled. See it as akin to the advice on planes that you put breathing apparatus onto yourself before helping the child.

You can not meet the needs of your new child if you do not also nurture yourself and your relationship.

Couples who are able to talk openly about their problems with both partners revealing their hope’s as well as disappointments will be better able to share feelings and studies indicate that they found it less difficult talking to others about their situation and difficulties.

Couples need to be able to reflect on their relationship otherwise the placement child is likely to widen their differences as a couple.

Couples unable to reflect on the challenges they may face are likely to be unprepared for the reality of adoption and will have unrealistic expectations or idealised fantasies about the child and adoption. When confronted by the messy reality of having children this can cause significant issues.

Individuals both benefit from need to spending time consider their owner triggers.

How you manage conflict?

Children are hugely impacted by parental conflict by adopted children with their attachment issues and experience of trauma are likely to be more so.


Shapiro, Gottman and Carrere (2000). The baby and the marriage identifying factors that buffer against decline in marital satisfaction after the first baby arrives. Journal of Family Psychology 14(1) pp 59-70.

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