A lot of new moms experience postpartum “baby blues” after the birth of a child biologically. In some instances, new moms, according to the Mayo Clinic, “experience a more severe, long-lasting form of depression known as postpartum depression.”
While lesser known yet still common, parents who adopt can experience Postadoption Depression Syndrome (PADs) after placement has occurred, especially if ideas and expectations aren’t aligning with reality. Similar to symptoms of postpartum depression, the following are signs of PADs.
– Excessive guilt and shame
– Ongoing depression or sadness
– Loss of interest in typically enjoyed activities and/or retreating from family, friends, and support
– Chronic fatigue or a substantial lack of energy and drive
– Easily angered, irritated, or agitated
– Weight loss or gain and/or changes in appetite
– Inability to concentrate and/or indecisiveness
– Overly anxious
The first step to preventing or helping lessen the effects of PADS is to know that it exists. Many parents who adopt think they are abnormal or “bad” for feeling depressed after an adoption. Speaking more openly about the prevalence of postadoption depression can be a huge benefit to parents. Here are some other ideas that may help:
- A great resource from Show Hope is HowToAdopt.org. Whether you are in the process or simply want to learn more about adoption, HowToAdopt.org offers insight and resources for the journey ahead, including commonly asked questions like, “What Are My Expectations?”
- Attend parenting classes before adopting. These classes are often offered by local hospitals, but your adoption agency or a counseling agency may have other resources.
- Before your adoption, or soon after, you may find it useful to join a group of other adoptive parents so you can discuss and share your experiences and advice.
- Take plenty of time off work, if possible. Not all companies offer maternity and paternity leave for adoptions, but some do. Be aware of how much time you’ll be allowed off work, and take as much as you can.
- Give yourself time to adjust to parenthood. Try not to worry about dishes, cleaning, or cooking. As difficult as it may be to leave housework undone, it’s important to focus on spending time with your child and spouse, especially in the beginning. Form a support system of friends, family, and your church who can provide meals, help with errands, and so forth.
- Understand that bonding with your child can take time. You may have ideas of what life will be like with your child, but reality can often look very different. Consider attending our Hope for the Journey Conference to learn more about adoption, attachment, and bonding with your child.
For more information, as well as helpful resources about PADs, please visit the Child Welfare Information Gateway (part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).