Post-partum depression (PPD) can happen to any new parent, particularly mothers. While experts are unsure as to why it occurs, they believe it has to do with the mother’s imbalance of hormones after birth. However, PPD can affect any new parent whether they be male, female, biological, adoptive, etc…
Post-partum depression, like many mental illnesses, has many complex emotional, behavioral, and physical side effects that can cause the mother a number of detrimental side effects. Many people suffer from frequent mood changes, fatigue, changes in appetite, trouble sleeping, and feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and loneliness. Birth mothers who place their child for adoption are at an increased risk to suffer from PPD as many of them will go through various stages of grief and feelings of loss after the placement. While this can be a struggle, it is important to understand that for many, this is a normal response.
PPD can occur anytime within for weeks of the delivery and can have life-long effects if it is not addressed. For birth mothers, this can be particularly strong because despite making the decision that you felt was best for you and your child, there are strong feelings of loss after the placement. Many mothers feel a sense of profound sadness that they are separated from their child, and feel that they do not have a “right” to feel like this because they are not the mother that their child will get to know. This is not true. It is important to remember that you brought your child into the world and that even though you are separated, you made the ultimate sacrifice for your child. A birth mother has every right to embrace and talk about these feelings of postpartum. Below are some ways to help birth mothers cope during this difficult time.
While PPD can be very hard to endure, it is important to remember that there are ways to overcome it. After the placement, many birth mothers will feel emotions like sadness, guilt, and inadequacy. It is important to acknowledge these feelings. This is the first step toward acceptance. Additionally, the adoption does not end after the placement. A birth mother can continue to reach out to her adoption specialist for any support she might still need. This support is always free and is always accessible should a birth mother need to call.
A birth mother can also talk to a professional, her doctor or a licensed therapist are both good options to seek help with. Since most adoptions are either open or semi-open, you have the ability to maintain some contact with your child. Watching your child grow can provide some relief.
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Finally, it is important to reach out to those closest to you. Talking with your family, friends or even a support group for other women going through this process are all good sources to reach out to. These feelings of despair can be overcome. It is important to take the steps to reach out and ask for help. The rest will take time, but with a good support system and a good mentality, it will eventually be overcome.
Ultimately, while post-partum depression can be difficult, particularly for birth mothers, there are ways to help cope and overcome it. Post-partum can affect any new parent and can have serious long-term effects if it is not addressed. Thankfully, there are many resources birth mothers can use to help cope with PPD and life after placement.
Julianna McKenna is a college student at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana double majoring in English Writing and Psychology. She is passionate about adoption and foster care and is considering a career in adoption law or counseling. In January 2019, Julianna became an intern for Adoption Choices of Kansas, Inc. She is incredibly dedicated to promoting children’s rights and is excited to research and advocate for children.