Postpartum Depression or PPD is typically known as a mental illness that affects many parents, particularly mothers after giving birth. Generally, the symptoms are similar to depression: anxiety, mood swings, sadness, loneliness, sleep apnea, eating problems, and lack of concentration to name a few. If these symptoms occur continuously within 6 months of childbirth, a parent is likely suffering from Postpartum Depression.
What many people are not aware of is the fact that Postpartum Depression is something that adoptive parents can also suffer from. Although in the case of adoptive parents, this is referred to as post-adoption depression. PPD is already a stigmatized illness, but it is even more stigmatized for adoptive parents because they don’t have to endure the birthing process. As a result, they often keep silent. However, despite not having the same physical experience as birth mothers, adoptive parents are still under the same emotional, financial, and mental strains.
Even the most prepared parent cannot ever be fully prepared for what it is like to bring a child home. There are many lifestyle shifts and being a new parent can initially be very stressful and draining. Adoptive parents have eagerly anticipated the moment when they can take their child home. They have often endured an intense adoption process where they have felt like they had to prove they are competent and ready to be great parents. This can lead adoptive parents to have high-standards for themselves and feeling like they need to be the perfect parents. If they don’t immediately bond with the child, or struggle to do everything perfectly, this can lead to feelings of inadequacy or failure.
The whole societal mentality about adoption can also lead adoptive parents to feel isolated and alone. The general societal stereotypes surrounding adoption create a mentality that adoptive parents are not “real” parents and that they only chose adoption because they couldn’t conceive themselves. Naturally, this is completely false, but these ideas can instill a sense of illegitimacy and loneliness. Many adoptive parents are at risk for developing PPD because of these societal impressions, lack of familial support, and the exhausting adoption process. Initially, depending on how open the adoption is, some adoptive parents may feel uncomfortable with the birth mother’s involvement in their child’s life. All of these factors may contribute to a greater risk for Post-Adoption Depression.
Despite these feelings, it is important for adoptive parents to know that they are not alone. There are many resources to help treat Postpartum Depression including a combination of therapy, medication, and support groups. There are many ways to create a beneficial short and long-term post-adoption depression treatment plan. It is also important to recognize that there is no perfect parenting, and therefore, no one standard to live up to. If you are experiencing long-lasting depressive symptoms after the adoption of your child, it is important to seek medical care from a doctor and mental health professional.
Carberg, Chris. “Understanding PPD in Adoptive Parents.” Postpartum Depression. January, 23 2019. Accessed April 2, 2019. https://www.postpartumdepression.org/postpartumdepression/adoption/.
Nauert, Rick. “Postpartum Depression in Adoptive Parents.” Psych Central. August 8, 2018. Accessed April 2, 2019. https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/04/01/postpartum-depression-in-adoptive-parents/12519.html.
Staff. “Postpartum Depression: Diagnosis, Symptoms, Treatment.” Familydoctor.org. April 7, 2017. Accessed April 2, 2019. https://familydoctor.org/condition/postpartum-depression/.
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 Virginia L. Frank and joined the Adoption Choices Inc., team. She is incredibly dedicated to promoting children’s rights and is excited to research and advocate for children.