The truth about post-adoption depression is that it happens.
For much of Quin’s early years I experienced mood swings, anxiety, sadness, irritability, feeling overwhelmed, crying, reduced concentration, and trouble sleeping. Typically, these symptoms relate to post-partum depression. But they can also apply to post-adoption depression.
Here are some of the factors that went into my experience. You may find some similarities.
- The experience at the hospital with our new son and birth mom was difficult and intense.
- The period where our birth mother could change her mind was worrisome.
- The draining energy and shock of the dramatic sleep problems my son had.
- The realization of my son’s special needs and how this impacted our day to day experience.
- The great support from family over a distance made it hard to get help when we needed it.
- The lack of sympathy and understanding from our community about the adoptive experience.
- The loss of the experience around breastfeeding because of the limitations of my body.
- The natural inclination any child has for their birth mother that translated into confusion and frustration for my son.
- The typical strains of the major learning curve involved in taking care of an infant and young child
All this and more culminated in post-adoption depression. No wonder I struggled.
The things that adoptive families experience have a weight that can get heavy. And it can happen to anyone regardless of the age of the child. Our tendency is to deny it when we struggle and think that we can handle it. I began to recognize my symptoms and take care of myself.
Doctors, counseling, medication, making changes and healthier choices all were part of helping me overcome what I experienced. I had to make some tough decisions about my priorities. I had to let go of certain expectations, ideals, and even my job. This isn’t to say that will be the case for everyone. But for me, focusing on my health and the well-being of my family was the best thing. If you are having similar experiences, I would encourage you to get help. Go at your own pace, but at the same time make sure to reach out.