You have spent so much time preparing for adoption. From the research you’ve done on figuring out the type of adoption you want, to attending classes/seminars to learn everything you can regarding adoption, to meeting with social workers in various aspects of adoption. You’ve spent time making sure your home is safe and prepared for your child. You’ve spent much time in meetings with your child’s team, ensuring their needs have been met, and you’ve prepared for the day to finally call this child your own! It’s been a few months since the big day of adoption. You had a celebration with family and friends. Since adoption finalization has occurred, your family has gotten into a routine of daily living. The excitement of adopting your kiddo may have worn off and you begin to start feeling like you’re not yourself. You may believe you should be happy, and you know there’s happiness in that you’ve expanded your family, thankful the journey of adoption has come to an end, but you feel different. Maybe you’re experiencing guilt, anger, sadness, change in appetite and sleep, or even ambivalence. Maybe you’re even wondering if it’s a case of the blues or if there is something more happening?
The term coined for these emotions is, Post Adoption Depression Syndrome (PADS). Although it is more common in adoptive mothers, PADS can also affect adoptive dads. PADS can be caused by varying reasons, including fears of not bonding the way in which parents hoped with their child, an underestimation in lifestyle changes that come from adoption, and fears of doubt and inadequacy as a parent. Symptoms of PADS can be on a continuum for the time in which they arrive, as well as the severity of how PADS will affect a parent. For example, symptoms of PADS may appear days to months to years after adoption and the severity of symptoms of PADS can range from minimal to severe.
Often times, parents suffer these symptoms alone, as many do not seek help for what they’re experiencing as they may not realize why they are feeling this way. If you’re experiencing these differing symptoms, it’s important to speak with your doctor. You may be treated similar to a parent that has postpartum depression, such as with antidepressants and therapy. It may also be recommended for you to join a support group with adoptive parents who share similar experiences. Self help tools can also be beneficial for parents who experience PADS. Some of these tools include exercising, healthy eating, relaxation, and taking time for yourself to do something that is enjoyable. Be sure to take care of yourself, so you can continue to be a rockstar of a parent!
This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, Darcy Solem, LBSW