Dealing With Post Adoption Depression
Most people assume that adoptive parents must be on a perpetual high after bringing their baby or child home. After all, they've wanted a baby for a long time; they've gone through an incredible amount of negotiations, periods of waiting, and financial stress to adopt; and they finally have the child of their dreams. What most people don't realize, however, is that post-adoption depression is very common. It is important to understand this syndrome and to learn about ways to overcome it.
June Bond, an adoption advocate in North Carolina, created the term Post-Adoption Depression Syndrome (PADS) in 1995. One psychotherapist in Denver, Dee Paddock, says that adoption depression is very common. The world, as she explains it, sees you as a hero for rescuing a needy child. It's very hard to take on this title, and then to express your insecurities, frustrations and fears. Adoptive parents, therefore, find themselves feeling outside of the parenting club and they feel guilty for finding their new situation so difficult. This leads to depression and hopelessness.
Many women who adopt babies have a hard time relating to other women who birthed their own children. While sitting in a support group for new mothers, the other women will be discussing their delivery and recovering, their breastfeeding woos and their hormones. These are not the same considerations that an adopted mother is experiencing. While they do both experience adjustments to their new routine and their new child, the adoptive mother has some considerations that are different than does the women who delivered her own children. Similarly, many women don't understand what adoptive mothers could be experiencing. They assume that the adopting parent got to do it the easy way - without the pregnancy, the delivery, the nursing, and so on. This can create a feeling of isolation for adoptive moms and make it difficult for them to share their feelings with other new moms.
Getting To Know The Baby
Most babies that are adopted don't come to the new family as soon as they are born. This means that the parents receive a baby who is already weeks, months or years old. While filling out all of the paperwork and dreaming about the new baby, most people have an image of this baby in their minds. This image does not always mesh well with the reality of the living, breathing child in front of them. Some children will have emotional scars, they may throw tantrums, resist eye contact, refuse to be hugged, and so on. It's important to know what to expect when adopting and to be ready for the obstacles you may encounter. These surprises can often cause adoptive parents to sink into depression, to worry that maybe they made the wrong decision, and to feel inadequate as new parents.
Adoptive parents often shy away from admitting that they are depressed, or from getting help. They worry that they will be branded as unfit adoptive parents - and they worry about jeopardizing their future chances at adopting more children. They assume that they should be in a state of bliss - after working so hard to get this child. It is very important for adoptive parents to know that depression is common once the baby arrives, and to be willing to ask for help. PADS may affect one out of every ten new adoptive mothers, and as many as 65% of adoptive parents feel some depression after adopting a child. If you find yourself feeling depressed, take care of yourself as much as possible. Take naps, eat well, go for walks, and cut back on your obligations. Ask friends and family for support. Give yourself time to bond with your child - it may not happen overnight. You can join an adoptive support group or a play group. These people are experiencing similar issues and will be more supportive with your situation than will a regular "new moms" group. If these self-help ideas don't help, then seek professional help from a mental health professional familiar with adoption.