Post-Adoption Depression

Finding help and finding hope.

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Just as there is post-partum depression, you may also experience Post-Adoption Depression Syndrome (PADS).

Your life has been a flurry of emotions during your adoption journey: hope, relief, frustration, waiting, excitement, and not to mention adding another person to your family.  Not having the hormone fluctuations related to birth does not mean that you haven’t had your share of emotional fluctuation.

You have been given a child you are supposed to love as your own, but is this connection always instant? NO! There are huge adjustments to make for both you and the child. Although you have had visits, that is not the same as every day life. Your schedules are now different. Your child may begin “testing” you with different behaviors that you hadn’t seen before. Your fantasy and reality have surely collided.

The symptoms of PADS and the symptoms of post-partum depression are quite similar.

  • Feeling depressed or particularly irritable for most of the day.
  • Diminished interest in activities that used to be enjoyable.
  • Significant weight loss or gain, and/or a change in appetite.
  • Changes in sleep pattern.
  • Noticeable increase or decrease in motor activity (others notice that they’re slower or more agitated than usual).
  • A general feeling of fatigue or low energy day after day.
  • Feeling worthless or excessively guilty on a regular basis.
  • Indecisiveness, or an impaired ability to think or concentrate.
  • Suicidal thoughts.

Do not be afraid to ask for help from your adoption worker, or from friends or family. The only way you can deal with this is by getting help. Counseling and medication will help to alleviate some of the symptoms.

The Post-Adoption Blues: Overcoming the Unforeseen Challenges of Adoption is a groundbreaking book. It is the first of its kind to offer an explanation of the dynamics of parental stress and depression once a child is home, and the strategies to help adoptive parents cope with these emotions. It was written by a truly unique team, Karen J. Foli, a registered nurse, and her husband, John R. Thompson, a psychiatrist. The pair have two children by birth and are adoptive parents who struggled with post-adoption depression after their adopted daughter came home. “We want this book to bring those unspoken emotions into the open and to mark the start of a new era of conversations about post-adoption feelings,” say the authors, who are staunch supporters of adoption.

At the heart of The Post-Adoption Blues are the expectations parents hold of the post-adoption experience and how the differences between those expectations and reality create stress and depression. This book also gives these emotions a name– post-adoption stress and depression– and compares them to postpartum blues and depression. Addressed in the book are questions concerning this sensitive time, including:

  • Where can parents turn when the anticipated parent-to-child bonding occurs slowly?
  • How can they handle feelings of grief over the birth child they couldn’t have?
  • What can they do when the child they so eagerly awaited arrives with unexpected needs?

In addition to expert advice and personal stories and solutions, The Post-Adoption Blues also provides a plethora of resources to turn to for further information: from a glossary of terms and  an extensive list of books on the subject, to support groups around the country and websites to visit. This work offers parents the understanding and help they need to know a love that can lead them and their child to become more than they ever thought they could be.

I Grieve

I grieve for the children never born
To the mothers who so desperately wanted them

I grieve for the children who were born
To mothers who couldn’t care for them

I grieve for the children stuck in the past
Watching life pass them by
Unable to reach out
And grab it for themselves

I grieve for the child I have
For the early start to his life
Something no child should ever endure

I grieve the son I have “lost”
When I offer him all the “cures”
And he is too afraid to try
The dreams of kisses and hugs
And fun days in the park
Dreams of laughing and smiling
Of building family traditions
Dreams of a “normal” happy family
Shot down, stuck in a spiral of chaos.

I grieve for the child
Who I love desperately
But dreams of his birthmother
Coming back for him

I grieve for the days gone by
That can never be reclaimed
The milestones I didn’t share with him
And the days when there was no joy
Because his illness will not allow it

I grieve for the future
Knowing he will hit rock bottom
Before he can pull himself up

I grieve for the man I know he can become
But may never achieve

I grieve for the children I lost
Who are growing up without me
And calling someone else Mama
Who never leave my heart or my thoughts

I grieve for the family I have lost
Because they don’t understand
And don’t want to learn

I grieve knowing the circle will continue
That other children will suffer
That other mothers will bear their children’s pain
I grieve every day
But I can’t, and won’t, give up hope

By Kelly L Killian