Everyone has heard of post partum depression. This is when women get depressed after having a baby, and often have to be treated with therapy and with medication. Most people, however, wouldn't assume that there would be a sense of depression for someone who has adopted a baby. Post partum depression is tied to the changes in the woman's hormones after the birth. Therefore, people might wonder, what would post-adoption blues be tied to?
Understanding Post-Adoption Blues
There is an actual term for the depression that some people experience after adopting. June Bond created the term Post-Adoption Depression Syndrome (PADS) in 1995 and she is an adoption advocate in North Carolina. Adoption depression is quite common, as reported by Dee Paddock, a psychotherapist in Denver. Everyone sees you as a hero for taking care of a child in need. However, when you actually take in this child, you are probably filled with fear, indecision and nerves. These emotions are hard to reconcile with the image that others have of you. Women who've given birth, in particular, think you must have an easier time because you didn't have to give birth or deal with the physical recovery afterwards.
This depression is usually more common in women than it is in men. Usually, after adopting a baby, the woman is the one who stays home for awhile and she is the one who mingles more with other mothers. Adoptive mothers often report a feeling of isolation, as they have a different experience than other women. While other women talk about their deliveries, nursing and whether or not the baby looks like them or the father, adoptive mothers have entirely different worries, concerns and issues with their babies. In addition, adoptive moms have often carried an image around in their heads about how wonderful having this baby will finally be. Many adoptive parents have been through infertility treatments; others have simply wanted to have this adoptive baby for years of waiting. Either way, they've waited for this chance and created a mental image of what it will look like. The first months at home with a new baby or young child may not mesh with the mental image that she had created. It's not always easy to suddenly have a new person in your life, and to try to bond with this child you've been given.
What To Do?
Adoptive moms who are feeling depressed should definitely discuss their feelings with someone. Many women are embarrassed to be feeling the way that they do, and they judge themselves for their feelings. How can they possibly be depressed when they've finally gotten what they've wanted for so long? This type of question is terribly detrimental to the woman's emotional state, and it will be very helpful to talk to someone. She should definitely let her husband know how she is feeling and should seek out other support networks. She can see if there is a support group in her area for adoptive moms or visit with a social worker or psychologist for one-on-one counseling.
It's also very important for adoptive parents to know that as much as 65% of adoptive parents feel some depression after the adoption. If you are feeling depressed, nurture yourself as much as your time allows. Try to take naps, eat well, go for walks, have a night out with your partner, and cut back on your obligations. This time will pass and you will love this beautiful person who is in your life. Don't ignore your feelings, however, as they are completely natural and quite common.