The adoption process is fraught with highs and lows. Joys and sorrows. Moments of intense stress and complete peace. With all the moving pieces, it’s easy to be whisked along and forget the amount of adrenaline and energy that’s sustaining you throughout your journey. Until, one day, a case of Post Adoption Depression Syndrome strikes out of nowhere. The loneliness, sadness and anxiety leaves you reeling and confused. Is this normal?
Mental health and post adoption complications aren’t discussed as much as they should be. Too many adoptive parents are caught off guard, and wonder if there is something wrong with them. Adoption Choices of Colorado is here to provide a guiding light through this oversight. We believe that the hard times are just as important to talk about as the triumphs in your adoption journey.
Adjust any Unmet Expectations
One of the most common causes of Post Adoption Depression Syndrome (PADS) is unmet expectations. What do you mean by that? Whether you realize it or not, you create an image in your mind about what life as a parent will be like. How things will look and feel post adoption. There may even be specific details pertaining to your child. Hair color, eye color, ideas of who he or she will be when they grow up, etc. As you begin the adoption process, and learn more specific details, new expectations are formed. Pretty soon, you have fantasized a version of happily ever after.
After you bring your son or daughter home, however, reality starts to set in. The adrenaline and stress you’ve been carrying melt into exhaustion. Your partner or spouse returns to work, causing you to experience sadness and loneliness. Life suddenly feels disappointing, and not the mystical wonderland you imagined it would be. You may wonder if you’ve made a mistake, and wish for your old life back. Instead, though, adjust any unmet expectations you have and turn them into something positive. List off the things you are thankful for.
Get Enough Rest
Sleep deprivation can take a toll on our emotional and mental stability pretty quickly. Without the proper amount of sleep, we can morph into a very unpleasant version of ourselves. Combining this with symptoms of depression and anxiety only compounds the issue. So, if you feel like you are struggling with PADS, make sure to get enough rest. Trade off with your partner or spouse, so that at least one of you is more rested at any given time.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to those in your support system, too. Friends and family members will be more than happy to be on baby watch while you catch an hour or two of shut eye. Asking them to help cook meals and assist with household chores is never a bad idea either.
Understand Bonding Takes Time
As much as we may wish for it, transitioning into parenthood doesn’t happen overnight. There is no fairy godmother or glittery wand that can magically take away the rough spots. So, that said, give yourself the time you need. Be gentle and patient with yourself, your partner or spouse, and your baby. Research strategies on how to bond with your baby, and keep at it. Focus on getting to know your son or daughter, and developing your parenting style. That’s what the adjustment period is all about.
Speak to Counselor
There’s no shame in admitting you need some extra help. Especially when it comes to your mental health. Post Adoption Depression Syndrome can be a difficult complication to battle on your own. But mental health professionals and counselors are perfect for this. They are equipped and trained to help you healthfully overcome your symptoms and get you back to feeling like your usual self.
Perhaps the most essential way to overcome PADS is through self-care. Even if it’s just for five or ten minutes a day, carve out some time that’s just for you. Breathe. Relax. Regain some of your sanity. Take a power nap. Jot down what you’re experiencing in a journal. Do whatever makes you feel happy and that will help fill you back up.
Replacing negative with positive and taking care of yourself are crucial. Even more so when you’re transitioning into parenthood, and adjusting to life with a new baby. Mastering self care is key to combating the other symptoms associated with Post Adoption Depression Syndrome. Why? Because self care does wonders to our mental health. Getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and keeping an exercise routine will ensure that both your body and brain are functioning the way they should be, which will, in turn, help you stay at your best.
Post Adoption Depression Syndrome
When it comes to depression, anxiety, and any form of post adoption symptoms, the most important thing to do is take care of yourself. Then, research all you can about your symptoms, ask questions, and seek help from friends, family, your doctor and a counselor. This isn’t a battle you should fight on your own. Many other adoptive parents have experienced what you are. So, when the depression makes you feel isolated, remind yourself of that. You are not alone. No matter where you are, there is always help available.
Healing may take awhile, but don’t give up. Post Adoption Depression Syndrome is 100% treatable. Just keep your eyes on the finish line: bonding with your baby and enjoying life as a parent. You got this!
Adoption Choices of Colorado
For more information on adoption please contact Adoption Choices of Colorado. We can be reached via our website or phone 303-670-4401.
Support Adoption Choices
Adoption Choices, Inc. is partnering with Crowdrise, a fundraising website for nonprofits, to help our adoptive parents and birth parents with much needed financial assistance. We understand that expenses keep clients from fulfilling their dreams. Both with birth parents making a plan for adoption, and with adoptive parents growing their family. It is our mission to provide financial assistance through grants and scholarships, awarded annually in November, in honor of National Adoption Month. Funds assist adoptive parents with matching and placements, adoption finalization and helping birth mothers improve their lives through higher education — and much more.
However, we can’t do it alone. Please read up on our programs and donate money where you are able. Your donation will make a huge impact.
About the Author
Rachel Robertson is a published journalist, book editor, certified Publishing Specialist, and aspiring novelist. She graduated from Central Washington University (CWU) in March 2011, having found her writing voice within the Creative Nonfiction genre and grew to work as a freelance book editor for small presses all across the United States.
In June 2018, she embarked on an internship with Virginia Frank and came on board with Adoption Choices Inc., Not for Profit 501(c)(3), in December 2018. Between her mutual passion with adoption and surrogacy, and her own personal history with adoption, Rachel is excited to research and share topics each week that will spread awareness and better serve the faithful patrons of Adoption Choices Inc.
When Rachel isn’t haunting her local Starbucks or Barnes and Noble, she’s avidly pouring over her Writer’s Digest subscription or cozying up with a cup of tea and book. She currently resides in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her beloved wife and Border Collie.
Davenport, Dawn, et al. “The Elusive ‘Happily Ever After’: Post Adoption Depression.” Creating a Family, 3 Jan. 2019, creatingafamily.org/adoption-category/post-adoption-depression/.
Villarica, Hans. “5 Ways to Banish the Post-Adoption Blues.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 25 Apr. 2012, www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/04/5-ways-to-banish-the-post-adoption-blues/255735/.