Though it’s often attached to mothers who have physically given birth, studies show that postpartum depression, aka the “baby blues,” can also strike parents who have adopted children. Though some are quick to judge mothers who have adopted (mommy shaming is real) because there is sometimes a preconceived notion that adoption is easier than carrying a child, the reality is that this is a common occurrence.
After being cooped up in our house for a month in the dead of winter following the adoption of our baby, I felt sad and wasn’t sure why. We had waited some time to adopt and had had some obstacles to overcome on the path to parenthood, so it was hard for me to understand why I was depressed. In retrospect, it was likely a combination of the complete change of lifestyle and trying to go above and beyond to prove to myself that I was deserving of this amazing child.
According to Psychcentral.com, postpartum depression in parents through adoption is common because “the altered mood often follows unrealistic expectations that peak during the adoption process.”
One mother who also struggled with postpartum depression following an adoption was Amanda Tellmann of Indiana who realized that she was affected when her daughter was over a year old. A panic attack prompted a trip to the doctor, and after a month of speaking about her thoughts and feelings with a therapist, postpartum depression was diagnosed. “I had attended a handful of training seminars throughout our [adoption] process, and it had never occurred to me that I could be suffering from postpartum. I was also ill-informed and believed that postpartum was a biological issue that occurred with hormonal changes of a woman who had experienced a birth directly,” says Tellmann.
Though other mothers may share these concerns with each other, Tellmann, like other mothers who suffered postpartum after adopting are worried that people won’t understand what they are going through. However, finding a community to support you is important, and Tellmann was able eventually to open up to her family and find people who had also gone through what she had.
According to the American Psychological Association, one in seven women are diagnosed with postpartum depression. But though it’s more common than one would think, women like Tellmann often are worried about what other people will think of their diagnosis.
“I always felt like it made me look weak or unappreciative of the sacrifice that my daughter’s birth mother made. I always felt (and still do at times) that those that are supposed to be closest to me may feel like I should be happier,” she says. “It’s a hard disorder, but I find comfort in the fact that I have found a support circle and friends in the adoption community that are here, regardless of what time of day I reach out.
Is your child’s birth mother suffering from postpartum depression? Here are some ways to support her.
If you’re suffering from postpartum depression, learn more here about how to overcome it.