Sunday, November 22, 2009

Precursors to Post Adoption Depression - Conclusion

Last week I listed a few precursors to PAD, check them out here.

Today, I'd like to finish the list. Remember this is from Internet research that is scarce, they may be more precursors.
Please excuse the various fonts, which come from copying and pasting. I was going to re-type it all because I know it's harder to read this way, but Charlie is needing attention this morning, so here it is with apologies.

June Bond coined the term, post adoption depression, in a 1995 article for Roots and Wings Magazine. It refers to a combination of symptoms that may include: depressed mood, irritability, diminished interest in most activities, significant weight loss or gain, insomnia, or sleeping too much, feeling worthless or excessively guilty, difficulty concentrating, and suicidal thoughts. The severity of PAD may vary and should be taken seriously if you have five or more of these symptoms during a two-week period. Whether an incapacitating depression that requires treatment, or simply "the blues," PAD is a very real phenomenon.

It is suspected that having a history of certain issues can increase the likely hood that PAD will surface.


Doctors often attribute post-partum blues to dramatic hormonal changes that occur after the birth of a baby. However, psychologists often link new mother's depression to the sudden overwhelming demands of an infant and new financial responsibility, as well her loss of professional identity, social networks, and personal freedom. Sometimes depression is simply about not getting enough sleep or time to oneself.

Many adoptive mothers are older and wealthier than typical first moms. They often have established careers and have enjoyed years of freedom from the demands of children. They feel depressed and anxious if they do not "fall in love" with their children immediately.

I know when I went on maternity leave for 3 months, part of me was lost. I had no idea how to spend my time, other than rushing around picking up after Charlie. On the other hand, I was loathe to go back to work! A few months later, I'm happier at home and happier at work. Getting 40 hours a week "off" from childcare is actually too much. I feel like I don't get to see Charlie very much and other people are raising her. That's probably a sign of recovery.


June Bond, a writer for Roots and Wings magazine and the first person to recognize PADS, says that adoptive parents experience a huge letdown within a few weeks after their new child comes home. It is similar to what happens after a wedding, completing a college degree or achieving any other big life goal. "The emotional rush from the attainment of this long-desired goal is exhilarating," she writes. ". Feelings of being 'let down' are common after reaching any major life milestone."

Many adoptive parents have preconceived notions about the initial adjustment period with their new child. Remember this is a transitional time for all members of the family, not just the child. Bonding takes time and you may be overwhelmed by fatigue, sickness, stress, and the new challenges of parenthood.


In understanding post-adoptive emotions, we examine expectations along several dimensions: our expectations of ourselves, of our child, of our family and friends, of our child’s birthparents, and of others (including our adoption professionals and society). Part of the wholeness of family lies beyond the primary family unit, reaching to extended family and close friends. The joy that we feel as parents is often contagious and includes the exquisite anticipation of sharing the fact a child will be added to the family. But adoptive parents may be surprised and ill-prepared for their families’ reactions. – Foli and Thompson

Remember my hurt over my baby shower? That was probably an expectation of mine, a dream of what it would look like, and when the RSVPs came in, it was shattered. My family IS in love with Charlie, and they ARE very supportive, but I’ll never forget the sheer volume of comments that post got…. Obviously not all families are. I hope yours is as wonderful as mine, but if they are not, find some supportive friends.


If you have a tendency to any of the above mental health diagnoses, you are more likely to experience PAD. Personally I have battled depression for most of my adult life. This should not have taken me by surprise… After all, it’s such a joyful and happy time.


Science is just beginning to define "Post-Adoption Depression Syndrome" (PADS), which 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 mothers experience it. For example, in 1999 Harriet McCarthy, manager of the Eastern European Adoption Coalition Parent Education and Preparedness, surveyed 165 mothers who had adopted children from Eastern Europe and found that 65% reported post-adoption depression. Other researchers have determined that you are more likely to experience PADS if you adopt from overseas or if your child has special needs.


. Monitor your symptoms of depression and seek counseling and/or medical treatment if they persist and seriously impact day-to-day functioning.

Don't become isolated in your community. Enlist friends, family and neighbors to help with errands or domestic chores so that you can focus on bonding with your child.

· Try to get out with your child every day. Especially in the winter, cabin fever can exacerbate feelings of depression.

· If you have a predisposition to depression, you are at greater risk. Contact your mental health provider, counselor, and other support network to be on "standby."

· If the loss of career (whether temporary or permanent) triggers an identity crisis, find new areas of competence and seek out opportunities for adult contact.

· Don't expect perfection from yourself. Just do your best and don't feel guilty.

· Establish time with your spouse/partner to nurture your relationship.


Post Adoption Depressions Syndrome by Judy Bond; Roots and Wings, Spring 1995,

Baby Shock by Jean MacLeod; Adoptive Families, Sept/October 2001

Post Adoption Depression: The Unacknowledged Hazard, html


Cathy said...

THANKS!!! I have really enjoyed reading this and I admire you for putting it all out there. You even inspired me to tell some of my story. I hope you are doing well. I take that back. I know you are doing great because you are doing the best you can and that is all we can do.

Elizabeth said...

excellent points. The career woman thing is making me think about myself. I might have to write about it . I think this was me, loss of identity, time, personal space. My one kid was very easy and peaceful. Two kids is chaotic.