Post Adoption Depression: 10 Reasons Why You Are Not Happy

Written by Ratika Pai • 
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Karen was getting overly concerned about her behavior towards her adopted child. It wasn’t like Arthur, her husband, couldn’t notice it. It was more than obvious that Karen had attachment issues. She just didn’t seem to get emotionally close to her new baby! What was she going to do?

You may be aware of postpartum depression, which affects many women after the biological birth of their child. What many may not be aware of is post adoption depression syndrome (PADS), which is similar to postpartum depression and affects couples who have adopted a child.

According to research by Prude University, post adoption depression affects 18 to 26% of adoptive mothers [1]. As an adoptive mother, you may not experience biological changes, but you definitely go through an emotional turmoil just like any other mother. Connecting with a child who has not taken birth from your womb is challenging and requires a lot of understanding and adjustment. You first need to accept someone else’s child as your own and then resolve to raise him like your own child.

The journey of adoption is long and wearisome. Right from taking the decision of adoption until the day the child officially becomes a part of your family, you go through various emotions. MomJunction tells you why you could suffer from PADS and the efforts you can make to come out of this condition.

[ Read: Psychological Problems In Adopted Children ]

What Causes PADS In Parents?

Parents often have high expectations of leading a happy life with a perfect family but seldom do they understand that ‘perfect family’ is a myth. Raising a child involves a lot of sacrifices and responsibility, and you need to be prepared for it. Other reasons could be:

  • Adopting a child can bring forth issues related to personal fertility, which can cause emotional stress. You might find it hard to accept the adopted child as he keeps reminding you about your inability to have a biological child.
  • Some women feel a sense of guilt for having another woman’s baby. They feel that they have snatched what belongs to someone else and that they have no right over the baby.
  • Common parenting issues such as a rise in expenses increased responsibility, and such major changes can affect the couple if they haven’t done their homework well.
  • Common parenting issues such as a rise in expenses, increased responsibility, and such major changes can affect the couple, if they haven’t done their home work well.

You might be too engrossed in your depressive feelings that you might not understand that you are going through PADS. How would you know that you are suffering from this syndrome?

Symptoms Of PADS:

Post adoption depression symptoms usually start showing a month after the placement of a child. You will notice some changes in your physical and mental health and your mood as well.

The symptoms are obvious:

  • Feeling of anxiety, worthlessness, loneliness, low self-esteem, guilt throughout the day.
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or other activities that were once enjoyable.
  • Loss of appetite, sudden gain or loss of weight.
  • Nausea and panic attacks.
  • Disturbed sleep pattern or insomnia.
  • Constant feeling of fatigue or exhaustion throughout the day.
  • Frequently irritable and angry.
  • Often bogged down by negative thoughts.
  • Suicidal tendency.
  • Forgetfulness and lack of concentration.

If you do end up suffering from PADS, never give up on it as you can deal with it effectively. If these symptoms persist then, do seek professional help.

[ Read: Child Adoption Facts ]

How To Deal With Post Adoption Depression?

Adopting parents often overestimate their parenting skills. And when they are unable to connect with their child they feel disappointed. Instead of setting high parenting goals, learn and improve each day. Nobody can teach you parenting as it is something you learn with experience.

  • Every child is different so do not create a ‘Happy Family’ image in your mind even before your baby has started living with you. Do not expect your child to behave in a certain way. Let him grow, learn by himself but with your guidance, and then decide what is best for him.
  • Be prepared to make major changes in your lifestyle. With a new member added to your family, you need to take every major decision putting the child in the center of it. Be ready to adjust your routine according to your child’s needs.
  • It is extremely painful to see your adopted child not being welcomed into your close group of friends and family. To avoid such a situation, talk to your friends and relatives before adopting the child. Make them aware of the good in adoption by asking them to read about adoption or attend seminars discussing adoption.
  • It is natural to feel slightly guilty for having another person’s baby as your own. In such a case you can try writing a letter to the baby’s birth mother and share your experience raising her child. You can also meet the mother to learn more about the child and tell her that her baby is being raised with lots of love and care.
  • Lastly, do not hesitate to seek professional help. Depression can be treated with medication and therapy sessions. The earlier you seek treatment the faster you can resolve the issue.

Post Adoption Depression For Birth Mothers:

For a mother, giving up her child to be raised by another family could be traumatic. Depression after adoption in birth mothers is neglected but is a harsh reality. The birth mother is also vulnerable to post-adoption depression, which can take a serious toll on her health.

If you are the birth mother of a child, who was given for adoption, and are seeing the above-mentioned symptoms of depression, then seek help from a medical professional. You can talk to your adoption agency to recommend you to a therapist who has good experience in handling depression in birth mothers. Furthermore, you can join a social group of birth mothers to discuss your problems and grievances.

[ Read: Different Types Of Adoption ]

Can You Adopt If You Have Depression?

In the US, use of anti-depressants does not debar you from adopting a child. Adoption agencies and lawyers often prefer parents who are stable and do not have ailments that can affect their behavior towards the child. If you suffer from depression and are planning to adopt, then you will have to disclose your medical history to the adoption agencies and attorneys.

However, this fact does not necessarily impact your eligibility for adoption. Having problems and seeking help in dealing with them is a sign of strength.

Adoption is a major decision in your life. It is more critical than having your own child because you need to program yourself to accept an outsider as your own offspring. Do not make a move in haste. Note down the pros and cons, discuss the matter with your family, and ponder over the long term consequences of adopting a child. All this will help you avoid PADS and bring in happiness into the family.

Have you adopted a child? What was your preparation like? Do share your experience in our comment section below.

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