Tag Archives: post adoption depression

Dealing With Post-Adoption Depression Syndrome (PADS)

Finally! You bring home the baby you’ve always wanted, and your dream of being a parent has come to fruition! Yet instead of feeling the new joys of parenthood, you feel frustrated, withdrawn and overwhelmed. With the extreme highs and lows during the adoption process, it is common for adoptive parents to work through a wide range of emotions before and after placement.

If you are struggling with post adoption depression, there is help…and hope.

What is Post-Adoption Depression Syndrome?

Post-Adoption Depression Syndrome (PADS) is a psychological response to new experiences and to losses. From feelings of disappointment, to the demands of meeting an adopted baby’s special needs, to the physical and emotional strain of not being prepared for parenthood.

Adoption advocate June Bond coined the term Post-Adoption Depression Syndrome (PADS) after meeting new moms who experienced feelings of sadness and an absence of bonding with their babies.

Common Symptoms

Symptoms of post adoption depression vary widely and not all new parents will experience these symptoms at any one time. Some parents may have only one or two of these symptoms, but still may be experiencing post adoption depressions.

  • Depressive mood or severe mood swings
  • Excessive crying
  • Difficulty bonding with baby
  • Isolating yourself from family and friends
  • Loss of appetite or binge eating
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Extreme irritability and anger
  • Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Fear that you are not a good parent
  • Feelings of worthlessness, guilt or inadequacy
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Severe anxiety and panic attacks
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
Seek help

Don’t be afraid to ask an adoption professional or social worker for help – they can provide you with resources to help you with any worries or fears you may have. Talk to a therapist, your partner, friends, family, and other adoptive parents, who can provide you with necessary support.

Trust the process

Creating a strong bond with your child isn’t something that always happens instantly. Not every parent feels an immediate connection with their child, even among biological parents. Remember that you and your child’s bond will grow in the days, months and years to come.

 baby bed mother GIF

Take care of yourself

Get plenty of rest, eat well, go for walks, and designate “me time” when needed. Don’t feel guilty if you must cancel an obligation or two to focus on self-care. Caring for your body will decrease the negative effects of depression.

 video baby best amazing sleep GIF

Post Adoption Depression (PADS)

depression_by_thirsty5Most people have heard of Post-Partum Depression, in fact it has become widely recognized and accepted. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for Post Adoption Depression (PADS), similar to PPD. A survey of 145 parents who adopted internationally found that over 65% of them have experienced some form of PADS. While this specific survey was conducted with only adoptive families who adopted internationally, PADS is not only an international adoption problem. PADS effects many families whether they adopted domestically or through a foreign program. Adoptive parents have usually spent years struggling with infertility and then the rigorous adoption process. Throughout that time many adoptive parents dream and anticipate what parenting will be like. When the reality doesn’t match their hopes and dreams, feelings of grief, anger and confusion can occur. This is normal! Adoptive parents have just attained the child they may have been waiting years for. They have been riding the emotional high of this adoption for a long time. Now that it’s complete, feeling “let down” or an emotional crash are very common. Think of it like any big event that requires a lot of planning, a wedding for example. You plan sometimes for a year and then after the wedding comes and goes, there is nothing more to plan. The dream is fulfilled and many people become anxious or “down”. The same feelings can be experienced post adoption. A big problem is the acknowledgement of PADS. Many adoptive parents, particularly adoptive mothers, may have these feelings and try to ignore them and “tough it out”. They may experience feelings of guilt because they aren’t elated and thrilled now their dreams of adopting a child have come true. Some adoptive parents feel guilty because they don’t feel that “instant” connection or bonding that they believe a birth parent would have with their child. This may lead to feelings of frustration, anger and confusion. What adoptive parents must realize is that bonding with a child is a growing process. It usually doesn’t happen instantly, parents and children both have to get used to each other and get to know each other. This is why it is so important to schedule time off during the first few weeks after the child is brought home. Spending time together is what builds that bond. It is also important that adoptive parents talk about their feelings. Many adoptive parents don’t want to talk to their adoption social worker for fear of seeming unfit. After all, they just spent a long time “convincing” their social workers and others of their superior parenting skills, wouldn’t they look like a failure if they admitted these feelings? The answer is no. All new parents need support and help and some need professional help adjusting to this life-changing event. Most parents understand that when they bring a child into their home their life is going to change, but most do not understand the scope of the change until it actually happens. Adoptive parents in particular may feel the need to be the “super parent” because they asked for this and worked hard to achieve it! What adoptive parents need to realize is that parents who have biological children are not expected to: return to work immediately, keep a neat orderly home, prepare gourmet meals and Continued….. maintain a perfect appearance at all times, and neither should adoptive parents. Realize that the main focus in the first few weeks is to bond with the child and everything else is secondary. New adoptive parents can prepare and freeze meals ahead of time so they don’t have think about that during their attachment period, hire a cleaning service, do whatever is needed to help free up time and relax and focus on bonding with the child. If things become overwhelming, which they sometimes will, they can hire a babysitter, take a walk, spend some alone, time with a spouse, or take a bath. Adoptive parents need to take care of themselves as well as their child. When parents take care of themselves they are taking care of their child by providing them with a healthy capable parent. Preparing for the feelings and emotions of new parenthood will help families survive it. Asking for help does not make adoptive parents failures, it makes them human. Adoptive parents could experience frustrations, surprises, and setbacks with their new child. Celebrate if there aren’t any. Before adoptive parents bring home their child they should take parenting classes, read up on attachment issues and join an adoption support group. All of these help bring more confidence to new parents and allow them to relax. Most importantly they should remember to arrange for time to adjust to the new status as parents. Bringing a child home is the highlight of one’s life. Relax and take some time to enjoy it!

SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION FROM DSM-IV (Psychiatric Diagnostic and Statistical Manual)

1. Feeling sad, empty, or tearful most of the day, every day, or feeling exceptionally irritable.

2. Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all or almost all activities.

3. Significant weight loss or weight gain, increase or decrease in appetite.

4. Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day.

5. Restlessness or being slowed down nearly every day and it’s observable by others.

6. Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.

7. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.

8. Diminished ability to think or concentrate or indecisiveness nearly every day.

9. Suicidal thoughts If you are experiencing five or more of these symptoms in a two week period or believe you may be depressed please contact a qualified pychologist or psychiatrist.

Bonding With Your Adopted Child

You Love Her but you’re Not Quite “In-Love”

Your baby girl is home now, maybe this is your first adoption, or maybe you are already a parent? You’ve waited months to bring home this baby and you love her. You have provided her with a comfortable home, a closet stuffed with clothes, and a belly full of food. And yet, you honestly struggle to say that you are really “in-love” with this child.

Some adoptive parents feel an intense attachment within the first few minutes or days after bringing baby home. For others, it may take a bit longer. There are plenty of resources that talk about helping children attach to parents after adoption, but what about you? You’re afraid to speak about it out-loud. But actually you’re not alone, and there are many reasons you might not be bonding right away with your baby.

Why You Might Struggle To Bond with Baby

  • Unresolved grief over a previous child-related issue (such as miscarriages, infertility, disruption in another adoption)
  • Attachment issues in the child which can make you feel rejected as a parent…creating your own attachment issues
  • Inability to communicate adequately with the child (speech issues, special needs, language barriers in older children)
  • Previous experiences with attachment issues with an another adopted child

Never Let Feelings of Inadequacy Interfere With Your Parenting

As an adoptive parent I’m sure you understand what a precious gift a child is. Nonetheless you might sometimes feel inadequate as a parent, either because of your infertility issues, difficulty in the adoption etc. Instead of trying to prove that you are “worthy enough to be a parent”, you need to remember that that is exactly what you are to your child— a parent. You are here to fulfill her emotional and physical needs; to guide and love her—no matter how difficult it might be.

People Might Comment

And you should not let this affect your feelings about being a parent. You and your child will be okay. If your child doesn’t share your features or is of a different race, yes, you’re going to run into people who will ask you “is that child really yours?”. The answer is yes, she is— in every way that counts.

You Will Get There

If you have the feeling like you can’t bond with your adopted child, know that you will get there. It’s important to work through your feelings so that you can allow the connection to happen naturally on its own time.

Find at least one person other than your spouse that you can be completely honest with about your adoption struggles; it will help relieve some pressure. Do not be ashamed of your feelings. Know that you can reach out to your adoption counselor for the support and guidance you need, it’s more common than you think.

Even celebrity Katherine Heigl struggled to bond with her adopted baby last year. To her husband Josh on the other hand, it came naturally. “I had to embrace who I am as a parent. I watched Josh, and it was so effortless for him. I call him Disneyland Dad — he’ll get on the floor and roll around and make her laugh. That wasn’t really me. So I felt like, oh gosh, I’m not the kind of parent she prefers. Then I realized — I’m the cuddler. I’m the one she comes to if she’s hurt. And I have a ritual for putting her to bed. She has one blankie that goes over her, one that goes by her face, and one that she holds. It’s our little thing.”

Choose to Keep Loving

Choose to love your child, even if you don’t feel an attachment right away. Loving your baby is your choice, the deep emotional bonding may not happen instantly but remember to be patient. Until it happens create traditions and routines that will bond the two of you in a unique way, keep holding her and loving her and you will eventually fall in love.

Post-Adoption Depression Syndrome

Some adoptive parents can experience more than just a struggle to bond with their baby. Doctors can often link depression in new mothers to the sudden demands of an infant and new financial responsibility, as well as her loss of professional identity, social networks, and personal freedom. Sometimes depression is simply about not getting enough sleep or alone time. Adoptive parents experience all these things too. If you have symptoms of depression post adoption, you could be experiencing “Post-Adoption Depression” also known as “PADS”. It’s common that the inability to immediately “fall-in-love” with your baby can lead to PADS. You can find more information about PADS on our website Learning Center-PADS. Consult a doctor if you feel as though you may be experiencing any symptoms of Post Adoption Depression Syndrome.

Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue: Families Through Adoption On Valentine’s Day

It’s February, hImageearts and love literally seem to be everywhere. We all know that Valentine’s day is a time to celebrate love-all types of love.  Romantic love, puppy love, love for friends, parents, grandparents, and children.

Have you ever thought about the love adoption brings? Adoption is a unique kind of love triangle. An adopted child has two families, for life, he or she will always be loved by both of them. There is no changing that. This unique love needs not be forgotten. In fact, just like every other type of love, it should be celebrated.

Holidays can be difficult for birth parents.  A day dedicated to love… of course it can be emotional. Birth parents may be sad, sentimental, and nostalgic during this time. Sure a lot of people argue that Valentine’s Day is a silly made up “Hallmark Holiday” but nonetheless it serves as an extra reminder about people you love-children included. Undoubtedly your child’s birth parents will be thinking of their child when February 14th comes around. If your child is old enough he or she may also think about his or her birth parents too.

Use this Valentine’s Day to celebrate the unique love in your family, both adoptive and birth families. A little “I’m thinking of you and I love you” go a long way. Handmade cards and gifts are worth so much more than any keepsake you can buy in stores. Get crafty, either yourself or with the kids. Below are links to get some inspiration going. Have fun and keep in mind that whether you are touched by adoption or not, even Valentine’s Day can be a reminder of both happiness and loss.

…Feel free to use some of the quotes for your Valentine crafts and cards!

Valentine Ideas for Kids- FamilyFun.com

Valentine Crafts and Ideas- Martha Stewart

“Love is a promise, love is a souvenir, once given never forgotten, never let it disappear.”– John Lennon

“For love within a family, love that’s lived in
But not looked at, love within the light of which
All else is seen, the love within which
All other love finds speech.
This love is silent.”–
T.S. Eliot

“Children and mothers never truly part –
Bound in the beating of each other’s heart
.” — Charlotte Gray

“All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother”– Abraham Lincoln

“Love is the master key that opens the gates of happiness.”– Oliver Wendell Holmes

Post Adoption Depression in New Fathers

Becoming a parent is one of the biggest changes that both men and women can go through, yet there is still very little understood about how it impacts on mental health, and how many people will experience a mental health problem. Men are often left out of the equation when speaking of post-adoption depression (PADS) or post-partum depression but modern fathers are put under different strains than they were in the past. It is no longer good enough to just be the bread-winner. They have to be engaged and involved, which is added strain for them.

Studies are suggesting that one in 10 new fathers may have the blues.  New fathers are just as susceptible to post-partum depression as new mothers but it seems to occurs in men later than it does in women.  Lack of sleep and new responsibilities and/or supporting a wife with depression can often be triggers.  Depression in new fathers seems to occur after three to six months and is more likely to occur if their partner is experiencing depression.

There is a tendency to overuse labels but treatment for clinical depression is essential and more efforts should be made to improve screening and referral of at risk fathers.  Depression is nothing to be ashamed of and may require treatment.  Men may see depression as a weakness and not want to or find it necessary to seek help but mounting evidence suggests that early paternal depression may have substantial emotional, behavioral and developmental effects on children.

  • The baby blues, is a temporary “down” period. Tearfulness, fatigue, irritability, difficulty sleeping, mood swings, and other signs of the baby blues usually begin one to two days after birth and may last up to three weeks.
  • Postpartum depression is a mood disorder characterized by negative thinking patterns and feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and despondency. Unlike the temporary baby blues, postpartum depression deepens. The new parent may feel like they have fallen into a dark hole, have obsessive thoughts, and find themselves unable to shake troublesome worries.
  • Post-adoption depression is not yet a distinct illness recognized by the American Psychiatric Association. PADS can range from a full-blown episode of severe depression that requires hospitalization or just a simple case of the blues that lasts a month or two. The few scientific studies of PADS indicate that over half of adoptive parents experience it.

Post Adoption Depression (PADS)

depression_by_thirsty5Most people have heard of Post-Partum Depression, in fact it has become widely recognized and accepted. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for Post Adoption Depression (PADS), similar to PPD. A survey of 145 parents who adopted internationally found that over 65% of them have experienced some form of PADS. While this specific survey was conducted with only adoptive families who adopted internationally, PADS is not only an international adoption problem. PADS effects many families whether they adopted domestically or through a foreign program. Adoptive parents have usually spent years struggling with infertility and then the rigorous adoption process. Throughout that time many adoptive parents dream and anticipate what parenting will be like. When the reality doesn’t match their hopes and dreams, feelings of grief, anger and confusion can occur. This is normal! Adoptive parents have just attained the child they may have been waiting years for. They have been riding the emotional high of this adoption for a long time. Now that it’s complete, feeling “let down” or an emotional crash are very common. Think of it like any big event that requires a lot of planning, a wedding for example. You plan sometimes for a year and then after the wedding comes and goes, there is nothing more to plan. The dream is fulfilled and many people become anxious or “down”. The same feelings can be experienced post adoption. A big problem is the acknowledgement of PADS. Many adoptive parents, particularly adoptive mothers, may have these feelings and try to ignore them and “tough it out”. They may experience feelings of guilt because they aren’t elated and thrilled now their dreams of adopting a child have come true. Some adoptive parents feel guilty because they don’t feel that “instant” connection or bonding that they believe a birth parent would have with their child. This may lead to feelings of frustration, anger and confusion. What adoptive parents must realize is that bonding with a child is a growing process. It usually doesn’t happen instantly, parents and children both have to get used to each other and get to know each other. This is why it is so important to schedule time off during the first few weeks after the child is brought home. Spending time together is what builds that bond. It is also important that adoptive parents talk about their feelings. Many adoptive parents don’t want to talk to their adoption social worker for fear of seeming unfit. After all, they just spent a long time “convincing” their social workers and others of their superior parenting skills, wouldn’t they look like a failure if they admitted these feelings? The answer is no. All new parents need support and help and some need professional help adjusting to this life-changing event. Most parents understand that when they bring a child into their home their life is going to change, but most do not understand the scope of the change until it actually happens. Adoptive parents in particular may feel the need to be the “super parent” because they asked for this and worked hard to achieve it! What adoptive parents need to realize is that parents who have biological children are not expected to: return to work immediately, keep a neat orderly home, prepare gourmet meals and Continued….. maintain a perfect appearance at all times, and neither should adoptive parents. Realize that the main focus in the first few weeks is to bond with the child and everything else is secondary. New adoptive parents can prepare and freeze meals ahead of time so they don’t have think about that during their attachment period, hire a cleaning service, do whatever is needed to help free up time and relax and focus on bonding with the child. If things become overwhelming, which they sometimes will, they can hire a babysitter, take a walk, spend some alone, time with a spouse, or take a bath. Adoptive parents need to take care of themselves as well as their child. When parents take care of themselves they are taking care of their child by providing them with a healthy capable parent. Preparing for the feelings and emotions of new parenthood will help families survive it. Asking for help does not make adoptive parents failures, it makes them human. Adoptive parents could experience frustrations, surprises, and setbacks with their new child. Celebrate if there aren’t any. Before adoptive parents bring home their child they should take parenting classes, read up on attachment issues and join an adoption support group. All of these help bring more confidence to new parents and allow them to relax. Most importantly they should remember to arrange for time to adjust to the new status as parents. Bringing a child home is the highlight of one’s life. Relax and take some time to enjoy it!

SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION FROM DSM-IV (Psychiatric Diagnostic and Statistical Manual)

1. Feeling sad, empty, or tearful most of the day, every day, or feeling exceptionally irritable.

2. Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all or almost all activities.

3. Significant weight loss or weight gain, increase or decrease in appetite.

4. Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day.

5. Restlessness or being slowed down nearly every day and it’s observable by others.

6. Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.

7. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.

8. Diminished ability to think or concentrate or indecisiveness nearly every day.

9. Suicidal thoughts If you are experiencing five or more of these symptoms in a two week period or believe you may be depressed please contact a qualified pychologist or psychiatrist.