Dealing with infertility took its toll. Let’s face it, the adoption process was almost as stressful and grueling. Through it all you experienced a mix of powerful emotions such as loss, grief, hope, fear and joy. Your adoption was successful and your beloved child is now finally home! You achieved your goal. Finally you are a member of the “parenthood club”. You should be happy, ecstatic, overjoyed, etc. Instead, you are feeling tired, overwhelmed, and depressed. Many new moms feel this way; these emotions are what’s known as post adoption depression syndrome or PADS. The good news is that you can get past it. What you are experiencing is common, but getting through it unscathed is what’s important.
A lack in social support structure that adoptive parents often receive can set the stage for PADS. When conflicts between expectation and reality set in, the emotional stress can quickly lead to PADS. This happens to be one of the most influential factors of PADS followed by low self-esteem, marital problems and issues with bonding. Finally, new adoptive moms tend to assume that they shouldn’t have as much difficulty or require the same amount of help because there is no post pregnancy/delivery recovery time needed. The following are a few things to keep in mind once you and your newborn are finally home and settled in. These suggestions will help you recognize potential issues so that you can deal with any problems that arise properly.
You are not alone
During the first year you are going to have your hands full with your new child. It is common to feel like you are the only adoptive parent who’s struggling depressive symptoms. Many negative thoughts can consume your mind as you experience the sudden changes that come with becoming an adoptive mom. It’s best to have a way to divert those thoughts to something positive and joyful. Negativity will only weaken your self-esteem and your ability to deal with challenges.
Bonding with your child will take time
You’ve waited months if not years for your child to come home. You remained patient throughout the adoption process; now hold on to that patience because your child will require time to settle in. In some cases, a baby may have experienced less than optimal conditions prior to coming to you; it’s important to remember that it’s a new relationship for both of you.
Manage your expectations
Parents sometimes forget that the end of the adoption process is actually the beginning of parenting. The scrutiny you may feel from the adoption screening process can create an unnatural expectation that adoptive parents have to be super parents. The stress that this expectation creates contributes to depression once the child is finally in your arms and under your care.
Get enough rest
Not getting enough rest is another major contributor to PADS. Since adoptive mothers skip the pregnancy and delivery, it is easy to misjudge how demanding caring for a newborn child can be, both physically and mentally. Make it a point to get sleep whenever you can. This will allow you to remain energetic and engaged. We all get physically recharged in different ways so, when possible, continue doing activities that you enjoy. This will help you maintain a bright outlook on life instead of focusing on how tough caring for your newly adopted child has become.