Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Post Adoption Depression and Resources

From Strollerderby: As postpartum depression begins to slowly come out into the light and be spoken about openly by brave mothers on blogs, in magazines and books, its lesser-known cousin, post-adoption depression remains mostly hidden.

Adoptive parents can feel especially ashamed and guilty for experiencing doubts, anxiety or even just a post-big-event let-down once a longed-for child arrives at last.

Perhaps the pressure of infertility has already left an adoptive parent feeling inadequate or judged. Perhaps a few false starts in the adoption process have left her with a tough skin a new baby or child has trouble breaking through. Perhaps the same sleeplessness and new parent anxiety and–yes–even new parent hormonal changes (they aren’t all based on pregnancy and birth) that plague biological mothers hit an adoptive parent and send her into a downward spiral.

Adoptive parents are at risk for much of the same difficult adjustment issues that biological parents are threatened by. In addition, however, adoptive parents are often at the end of a long, difficult and possibly expensive journey to a new child. After wishing and hoping and trying and working and waiting, if the arrival of that child brings despair instead of joy, the guilt and shame only add to the misery.

Here's a list of possible go-to resources/suggestions on Post-adoption depression:

The Post-Adoption Blues: Overcoming the Unforseen Challenges of Adoption (Paperback)


Clearly, PADS is a real feeling for many adoptive couples. What are some suggestions that can help you as a new adoptive parent deal with these feelings?

1. Recognize that Post Adoption Depression Syndrome is common and there are several valid reasons for feeling down after your child is placed with you. This does not mean that you have made a bad decision or are different from many other new parents.

2. In focusing and sharing birth mother grief . . realize that the birth mother made a positive plan for her and her child. You are an integral part of this special plan. If you share in her feelings of loss and grief, then take positive actions to help you both feel good about the plan that has come together for the adoptive triad. Write her a letter, make her an album, make certain that she knows what a great job she has done in giving this precious gift of life to you. Recognize that her grief is a natural part ofthe healing process.

3. Being anxiety ridden about certain legal risks and unresolved/unexpected issues is often a major source of stress. As adoptive parents, we must all accept the fact that with adoption comes certain risks. But, before accepting an adoptive situation make sure that the risks are ones that you can comfortably handle. It is a good plan to keep your head in control when evaluating each potential adoption situation. Once the baby is placed in your arms, the head control is usual replaced by heart control. Ask questions and know in your head the limit that your heart can endure.

4. Go to an infant parenting seminar. These seminars are often a part of child birthing classes at most hospitals. Call your local hospital to see when a class is being offered. Some hospitals will even allow a neonatal nurse to work one on one with you to show you how to care for your new born. Added confidence can relieve some of your feelings of anxiety and inadequacy about properly caring for this little, but very demanding little bundle.

5. Arrange for time to adjust to your new status. Unfortunately, many companies do not allow adoptive parents to take paid time off. With the rising cost of adoption, many families simply cannot afford to take time away from work without pay. Consequently one alternative is to rearrange your work schedule, if possible, to be more flexible for the first six - eight weeks. Another suggestion is to make plans for food and other necessities for the initial weeks in advance. One client I knew has a casserole shower from her local dinner club. Fifteen frozen casseroles came in very handy when the new baby arrived. "I wanted to spend every available minute with the baby. Clearly cooking was a low priority for me. " stated one adoptive mother. Paperplates, utensils, and cups can also cut down on work time and give you more time to relax and adjust.

6. Many adoptive couples feel that they must be super parents. They can pick up a baby on Friday, go back to work on Monday, have a meeting on Wednesday night, keep the church nursery on Wednesday night, have gourmet club at your house for the regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Saturday night, never missing a meeting or activity- all on four hours of sleep a night. Realize that birth parents usually take six weeks off of regularly scheduled activities. This time is not just for the healing of the body, but also for adjustment and bonding to the baby. Allow yourself the same time frame to adjust. Take a sabbatical from other responsibilities for six weeks and learn to love your baby.

7. Join an adoption support group, if you have not done so already. Share your feelings with others. A former client confided that she did not feel comfortable complaining about the baby's colic and her lack of sleep. "I felt like people would say that I asked for him. . . shut up. " Adoptive parents are not superhumans. We are real parents, who get tired, irritable, and have REAL feelings. Share your feelings with another adoptive parent in the support group.

Bringing your baby home is one of the highlights in your life. It is the beginning of a long and wonderful journey called parenthood. As with most journeys, there can be detours and bumpy spots in the road. Learning where the pot holes are makes the journey a little bit smoother.

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