Post Adoption Depression Syndrome (PADS) is finally getting more of the recognition it needs, but so many adoptive parents still don’t fully understand how serious it can be. Moreover, they have no idea how to cope.
Depression in any form can be debilitating and it is critical to remember that what you feel is real. This is not a sign of weakness, your adoption has not failed, and yes, you can overcome this. Adoption is an extremely emotional process, and many adoptive parents go through a massive adjustment period when they bring their new child home. Be patient and understand that there are ways to carry on during this difficult time.
Allow Yourself to Feel
Just as birthmothers can experience post-partum depression, adoptive parents can experience post-adoption depression. Symptoms are characteristic of most types of depression, including persistent feelings of deep sadness, irritability, fatigue, hopelessness, guilt, and worthlessness. In the case of PADS, these depression symptoms can also be accompanied by an inability to bond with your adopted child. This can strike fear in the heart of adoptive parents, compounding their depression. It is so important not to beat yourself up for having these feelings. Adoption is an incredibly complicated, monumental life event. Much of what you are feeling is a reaction to this change. Any adoptive parent can experience symptoms of PADS, so remember that you are not alone.
On this same note, it is always a good idea to ask for help. While your feelings are real and may be a direct result of the adoption, it does not mean you have to suffer through them silently. There are resources available that can help alleviate your symptoms, including therapy and medication. Talk to family and friends about what you are going through, be open and honest with your partner. Although your thoughts and emotions may be deeply personal, don’t feel guilty and don’t try to face this on your own.
Don’t Give Up
It is so important to remember that this will pass. There are many options to assist you through this, and it will get better with help and with time. Just because you are dealing with this right now does not mean that the adoption was a mistake or that you will never feel a connection with your child. You have worked so hard to get to this point of starting your family, don’t let PADS defeat your dreams. This is a real medical condition that is causing your suffering, it does not define who you are. The stigma surrounding any type of mental illness only makes it so much harder on those that are facing it. Don’t let this discourage you from getting help. Without treatment, some cases of PADS can worsen.
It is normal to experience a wide range of feelings after your adoption, but constant, disruptive misery should not be one of them. Adoption should be a joyful time in your life, it isn’t fair to be robbed of this happiness for any length of time. Post adoption depression is a condition that, like most forms of depression, needs more open advocacy so people are not dissuaded from speaking about it. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, talk to a professional mental health counselor.