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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Post-Adoption Depression

AdoptiveParentsHooray!  Crash.  Boom.  What did I get myself into?

Conflicting emotions confront many a new, or not-so-new adoptive parent, and can easily spiral into depression.  It’s not often talked about, but Post-Adoption Depression (PAD) is very real and affects more than half of all adoptive parents, unofficial studies say.

Why would that be, you ask?  Well, there are so many dreams, hopes, and expectations wrapped up in adoption.  The child may be shell-shocked by his/her new family and routine.  For both parent and child there is constant change, frequent misunderstandings, and occasional outright grief and disappointment.

The child may dislike or detest one of the parents, a purely arbitrary response in many cases, yet it can cause one of the parents to feel that he/she can do no wrong, whereas the other parent is constantly being rejected and resisted.  Not exactly the thing dreams are made of.

The parent may react to the fact that the new son or daughter is not bonding as quickly as possible, or perhaps not Post-Adoption-Depressionshedding unacceptable orphanage behaviors such as lying, stealing, hoarding food, or inappropriate self-soothing behaviors.  These things take time.  Unfortunately, with family and friends watching and adding their two cents, plus a mom or dad’s own expectations, the pressure is on.

You start feeling very, very tired.  Of course you’re tired, you’re jet-lagged and have been existing on pure adrenaline for weeks.  The first month passes with doctor’s appointments, registration at the Embassy, U.S. Passport application, Social Security, and meeting family.

A whirlwind.  Explaining rules of the house, or trying to find a food that the child will eat, and words to explain what’s happening.  Brain drain.  Constant hypervigilance when they climb out of their seatbelt, or decide to explore outside… in the middle of the night.

More exhaustion.  An inability to sleep even when you’re bonetired ensues, or the desire to sleep round the clock.

You might want to eat round the clock, too… or not at all.

image5It’s called depression, Post-Adoption Depression, and it’s really not remarkable at all.  You’ve spent months, or years, prepping for the little one (or big one) to come home.  Paperwork, appointments, money, multiple trips, an actual child attached to an actual face and personality.  All is well until you arrive home and the real work of becoming a family begins.

It will get better!  There are some children with severe emotional or mental problems, but the vast majority are pretty average, with some good days, and some not-so-good.  You’ll all grow together, and learn what makes each other laugh and smile.

See a doctor if need be, otherwise, treat yourself well.  Even if it’s a babysitter to come and stay with the child while you take a nap (yes, in the beginning, it’s hard to leave the child at all if they have separation anxiety).  You’re doing the best you can.  The crying jags will go, the positive outlook will return.  Get some exercise and fresh air.  Take a bath and soak away the stress.

You can do this.  Depression happens often when expectations and reality don’t mesh.  They will.

They will.



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2 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Kathleen says:

    Thank you for this. I don’t think we’re at that stage…yet, but I’m so tired, I know it’s a real possibility. We just adopted a 2yo boy from Bulgaria, we have 3 bio kids, ages 7, 4, 2, and I found out I’m unexpectedly pregnant in the middle of the process. Since we had already had the “bonding trip”, and agreed to take our son, we didn’t tell our agency about the pregnancy, and I don’t show till later, so we were able to pick him up without incident. He’s remarkably well-adjusted for growing up in an orphanage, and he seems to be bonding with us well. It feels like he’s always been part of our family, which makes it hard to remember sometimes that he doesn’t know the rules yet, and doesn’t really have a good reason to listen to us yet. I know we could not ask for a better adoption or a better adjustment period. But. I’m just. So. Tired.

    • avatar admin says:

      You have a lot on your plate, Kathleen, and we’re here for you. After each of our four adoptions (done at three times), I don’t think I slept well for the first year they were home. These were older kids, and it was non-stop hypervigilance on my part, just in case they decided to get up in the middle of the night or whatever. It was absolutely exhausting, not to mention the travel abroad, the catching up on things once home, the new child, the other children…. And you’re expecting! Don’t apologize for taking naps, or whatever recharges your batteries. You can do this, it will just take a while to find your new rhythm.

      When you feel up to it, tell us about Bulgaria!

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