Have you heard of Post-Adoption Depression Syndrome? PADS affects somewhere between 10 and 32 percent of adoptive parents, and affects parents of all genders.
The time-consuming and arduous nature of the adoption process can be a real rollercoaster for adoptive families. “It requires home visits, medical checks, parental training courses, letters of reference, and sometimes hefty fees,” writes Maija Kappler, Huffington Post. “To put it mildly, it takes a lot of commitment.” Not to mention the emotional energy spent by adoptive parents – the build up of anticipation as parents eagerly await their new child.
“So, when a child is finally placed, some adoptive parents can be blindsided, if, instead of simply overjoyed, they feel overwhelmed, sad or anxious,” says Kappler. After months or years of anticipating parenthood, the excitement of the actual adoption can give way to a feeling of being “let down” or sadness in some parents.
The Reality of Post-Adoption Depression Syndrome
“Having the blues after your baby or child moves in is actually really normal,” writes Kappler. Some adoptive parents suffer from what researchers have dubbed “post-adoption depression syndrome.” The term has been around since the mid-1990s, but is still relatively unknown outside of the world of adoption.
“[Post-adoption depression is] a mood disorder that occurs post-placement or post-adoption of a child. Post-adoption depression can be classified as mild, moderate or severe . . . The onset of depression can occur days or years after the child joins the family. Prevalence is unknown. Duration is greater than 3-to- 12 months. Post-adoption depression can be episodic, with remissions and reoc- currences. More research is needed to fully describe this mood disorder.”
– “The Post-Adoption Blues” by Karen Foli and John Thompson
PADS goes way beyond the normal nervousness new parents feel as they adjust to life with a child. Similar to postpartum depression in parents who give birth, Post-Adoption Depression Syndrome symptoms include sadness, anxiety, panic, intense fatigue, and debilitating feelings of inadequacy. As with postpartum depression, it is important to speak with a trained professional if you feel you may be experiencing Post-Adoption Depression Syndrome.
The Importance of Adoption Counseling
“There’s no one-size-fits-all way to deal with PADS,” writes Kappler.
- Start by consulting your family doctor. “Your physician can assess your physical state, determine if you have any other issues that need to be addressed, advise you on counseling services and, if appropriate, provide anti-depressants or other medications that can stabilize a downward spiral,” writes Heather Bucher, Rainbow Kids.
- Counseling can be a powerful tool for new adoptive parents.
- There are also support groups (in-person or online) where adoptive parents experiencing PADS can talk to other parents in similar situations.
- Reach out to your adoption agency. “If you do not have a positive support system, you can see that through an adoption agency worker/counselor,” says Dean Kirschner, Ph.D., LCSW-C.
Adoption Makes Family Can Help!
Adoption Makes Family is here for you. We are a non-profit (501-C3) licensed adoption agency based in Maryland founded to meet the needs of birth parents and adoptive parents in a manner that is sensitive, compassionate, and personal. Our adoption counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for your convenience. If you would like our advice or just need to talk, please give us a call at any time.
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