When formulating your adoption plan, few people think about what will happen after the adoption. Many women are unaware how common it is for birth mothers to experience depression after the adoption process is completed. Unless you have talked to someone that has experienced post adoption depression, you may not realize how frequently it occurs until it happens to you. Post-partum depression is an expected and acceptable stage of having a baby. But what about post adoption depression?
What is post-adoption depression?
Similar to how a parent can become depressed when adjusting to having a baby, it is possible for a parent to experience depression when going through the adoption process. Many birth parents are unable to talk about their adoption after they have completed the adoption process and often become irritated and depressed.
Adopting is a time-consuming, protracted, and an expensive process. Often, a birth mothers’ expenses are covered by the agency or the adoptive family. Feeling depressed after the adoption is complete can feel like a betrayal of all the time, emotional energy, and money that has gone into birthing the child. The shame prevents many people from talking openly about their feelings, even though talking about your experiences could help lift the burden of depression.
What can I do about post-adoption depression?
It is important to realize that post adoption depression is very common in birth mothers. There are many people you can reach out to for support and to help you find a solution. Post adoption depression is often a result of the difference between the expectations of mothers who give their children up and the reality of their situation. These feelings are normal, and within six months, many parents see them evaporate.
If your depression does not lift or you feel that your depression is deepening, it is important to talk to your social worker or agency. Your social worker will understand, better than perhaps anyone else, how difficult adjusting to an adoption can be. Another option is to talk a therapist that specializes in helping individuals with depression. This could be someone who specializes in treating individual with post adoption depression, or someone with experience working with difficult family situations is a good option.
Talking to your pediatrician is another good step. Many pediatricians work partially or exclusively with birth mothers and adoptive parents. They will already be aware that depression is a likely, if not expected, part of the process. Your pediatrician will provide you with the support you need during your post adoption depression.
A fourth option is to search and join a support group. The people in your support groups will be going through similar situations and understand how you feel. The support group leader will provide you with resources, and you will be able to hear from others about how they handle their depression.
As a final note, do not forget to take care of yourself. Depression can be caused by a lack of self-care. Do not forget to treat yourself once and a while.