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Last fall I approached Adoptioperheet with an idea: running a workshop on self-care for adoptive parents. Self-care and self-awareness are crucial elements of a parent’s daily life. I learned this the hard way: I was one of many parents confusing motherhood with martyrdom. My life changed dramatically when I integrated self-care in my life as a priority. Thanks to it, I moved closer to the parent I wanted to be.

Parenting children who have experienced trauma or with special needs can be particularly exhausting. After a long wait and a process where you feel the pressure of proving you will be an award-winning parent, the risk to experience a mismatch between expectations and reality is very high. Research suggests that post-adoption depression is as common as post-natal depression (source: NHS). Self-care is essential to prevent exhaustion, stress-induced symptoms, and even depression. Our kids need their parents at their best and to achieve that, parents need to put themselves first. This is why I wanted to start a conversation around self-care in our community. I also wanted to give people tools to include self-care in their daily life – a front lesson on how self-care was important wasn’t gonna cover it. I wanted to guide them to reflect on their habits, their needs, and walk out with concrete ideas and more awareness on themselves.

The workshop content was co-developed with the psychologysts at 2KindMinds, who enthusiastically jumped on board and helped align the activities to their professional knowledge. In December 2020 I ran the workshop “Build your self-care tools” and 16 adoptive parents and adoption applicants attended. The workshop was designed to run in a virtual setting to reach as many people as possible from the comfort of their homes, without forcing them to arrange childcare. We used Zoom and a virtual whiteboard called Miro. I was glad to observe participants were engaged and active, and feedback after the event was very positive.

The story doesn’t end here. When developing the workshop, I noticed that the format and the idea was easy to adapt to different audiences and target groups. For examples, in our activity people have to reflect on their support network – this activity would be relevant for adoptees, foster carers, or even other groups like immigrants, new parents, and so on. Adoptioperheet agreed with the idea of sharing this resource with a wider community – any individual, group, or association who want to use it to benefit others. All materials developed are under a CC-BY license: you are free to use, adapt, and modify them, we just ask you to give credit to its creators: Paola Elefante and Adoptioperheet ry. If you adapt or translate the workshop, consider sharing it back and get in touch to let us know.

In this resource package, you will find:

  • a facilitator’s guide sharing guidance on how to run the workshop
  • a Miro board (you can copy that or recreate the format in another virtual board, e.g. Jamboard)
  • hands-outs for participants

Start from here.

Many communities and associations struggle with limited resources. Wouldn’t it be great if we made an habit to share resources and learnings for the benefit of other communities? I am proud that the association I volunteer for has decided to take a step in this direction.

The text was written by volunteer Paola Elefante who created the resources and the facilitator’s guide for the workshop.