Your prayers have been answered, and you've just brought home your precious baby through adoption! But right now, instead of feeling overjoyed, you feel exhausted and depressed. There may be the sense that you "should" feel happy now that you've adopted. Lifetime has resources and tips for the post-adoption blues.
Many adoptive parents experience a let-down of emotions called "post-adoption depression." Much like post-partum depression, it usually affects adoptive mothers more. Post-adoption depression is very real and can stand in the way of the joy you experience with your baby. This type of depression can come from a number of events. These events then trigger what is called "post-adoption depression."
Your family and friends might say things that only make you feel worse, such as "You should be so happy now! You waited so long for this!" and "You wanted this. Be happy she’s got a family to take care of her now." This makes adoptive parents embarrassed to even mention their feelings.
Post-adoption depression can be caused by:
- Changing to a lifestyle of parenting full-time
- A long, drawn out adoption process
- Lack of sleep
- Years spent coping with infertility and failed fertility treatments
- The release of pent-up tension from your adoption wait
- A lack of control in the adoption wait and infertility
- Financial stress
- Uncertainty over the relationship with your baby's birth parents
Signs of Post-Adoption Depression
- No interest or joy in the activities you used to enjoy
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Needing extra sleep, or having a hard time sleeping
- Loss of energy
- Change in appetite
- Extreme weight loss or gain
- Lots of guilt
- Feeling worthless, powerless, and/or hopeless
How to Cope With Post-Adoption Depression
Surround yourself with positive people. Practice self-care: when the baby naps, take a nap too, and turn off your phone. Whenever you can, get outside and breathe in the fresh air. Take your baby for a walk around the neighborhood; it'll let you get in some physical activity. Make sure you're eating quality, nutritious food.
"After we adopted our son, I found it helpful to get out and attend a comedy show with my husband as a date night," says adoptive mother Mardie Caldwell, Lifetime's Founder.
Take comfort in the fact that other adoptive mothers have gone through post-adoption depression, and are now experiencing the joy parenting can bring. It does get better.
If you continue to experience depression for more than a month, please seek the advice of a qualified doctor who works with post-partum depression. Also, we suggest that you contact a counselor who specializes in adoption issues.