news item: post-adoption depression

If there were a ranking of topics that don’t get talked about enough “post-adoption depression” would probably win for least talked about, even least recognized, topic. My only knowledge of the topic comes from when we fostered a newborn for a year. A few weeks after bringing her home from the NICU I began to lose my appetite, worry constantly, and run ‘worst-case scenarios’ in my head. I started wondering if foster parents to infants could go through the same hormonal changes a biological parent could. The answer, according to my google searches, was yes, due to the sleep deprivation and increased worry of caring for a child that is not your own with an uncertain future. I remember telling my husband that I felt like my hormones were “out of whack.” After a few weeks things stabilized, I never got worse, and so I never really gave it much more thought.

Adoptive parents, (and I admit I have had this view in the past), are often viewed as those ‘lucky ones’ who had the resources to go and ‘rescue’ a baby from a certain dire fate. When they come home with their baby it is joyous, a sense:

 that the adoptive parents are the ‘winners,’ as compared to the birth parents, who relinquished the child, and the child himself … There is this unspoken message that the adoptive parents are coming out [ahead] of all in the adoption triad, [so] there can be a stigma when you, the adoptive parent, struggle in your new role. This was your life goal, people say to adoptive parents. This was what you wanted.”

Another factor that can contribute to the development of post-adoption depression is the ever-present worry of being watched by your social worker. Once you bring your baby home, you are still being evaluated and they can decide to take the baby from you. A factor for any type of depression is living in a constant state of fear. Add that to a new child who doesn’t know you and isn’t fully bonded to you yet, sleep deprivation, and society’s expectations that adoptive parents don’t need as much help as biological parents, and it adds up to post-adoption depression. I’m actually surprised that the rates are not higher than the reported “18 and 26 percent.”

Regardless of how you came to be a parent, parenting is hard and postpartum depression and post-adoption depression are very real things that need to be talked about. We hope you’ll read My Post-adoption Depression and we’d love to hear what you have to say on the topic. Thank you to Hakiva for sharing this article with us.

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PAIL headshotChandra is a Mom and Foster Mom. She holds a Master’s degree in Theology and is particularly interested in the theology of infertility. Chandra grew up in the Northeast but she and her husband are raising their daughter in the middle-of-nowhere Indiana. She has 3 chickens that drive her crazy, a huge garden, and a penchant for bacon. She occasionally attempts to make sense of all those things, and more, over at her blog, MetholicBlog. She also shares embarrassing stories about her husband and unicorns.

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