Much like the “fourth trimester” of pregnancy (also known as Post-Partum Depression), Post- Adoption Depression can sneak up on families during what seems like the happiest time in a couple’s life. Post- Adoption Depression can happen after a family welcomes an adopted child into their home, especially when reality does not meet expectation. Attachment and bonding do not always happen instantly, with biological children or children that have been adopted. New parents can be laden with negative feelings, like some of those listed below, and can often feel very alone during this time. It is estimated that approximately 65% of adoptive mothers experience symptoms related to Post- Adoption Depression Syndrome (PADS). Listed below are some signs that you or a loved one might be battling PADS and some suggestions for what you can do!
Signs of PADS:
- Losing interest or enjoyment in activities you once loved
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Difficulty sleeping or increased need for sleep
- Significant weight changes
- Excessive guilt
- Feeling powerless, worthless, or hopeless
- Irritability, frustration, or anger
- Feeling inadequate or undeserving
- Retreating from friends, family or others sources of support
- Suicidal thoughts or ideation
- Take time for you!
- You cannot take care of someone else if you are not taking care of you. Take care of yourself however you see fit- enjoy a healthy meal, spend time with friends, get fresh air, or participate in any other self-care that leaves you feeling a little more like yourself.
- Remember you are not alone
- Find other adoptive couples who have experienced what you are going through. Many of our families complete an activity with an “alumni family” as part of their educational instruction, so you already know at least one person who can help!
- Give yourself time to bond with your child
- Attachment and bonding are not always instant in adoption. Be patient with yourself and with your child and allow that process to happen at its own pace.
- Ask for help
- Never be afraid to speak up and ask for help for you and your family. Call your social worker, your best friend, your preacher, your Nightlight contact, or a licensed professional to help you today. You don’t have to be in a crisis or at a breaking point to ask for help.
Most importantly, if you or someone you know is dealing with Post-Adoption Depression, I’d like to leave you with this:
“If you are suffering with bonding issues or Post-Adoption Depression Syndrome, there is something you need to hear: There is nothing wrong with you. Bonding issues or PADS have no bearing on your worth as a parent. You are capable of this. There is nothing to be ashamed about. There is hope. You are not alone. This is not the time to duck and run. This is the time to dig deep, make a plan, assess and re-assess, pour your time into this, and fight for your child. You’ve got this, and there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Keep pushing forward, knowing you’re not alone.” – Melissa Giarrosso
No matter what problems you’re dealing with, whether or not you’re thinking about suicide, if you need someone to lean on for emotional support, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255