Post Adoption Depression

(This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosure policy.)

author: Jamie

Sometimes things aren’t as rosy as they appear.

Post Adoption Depression And Attachment Issues Of Adoptive Parents.

I don’ t know why this isn’t emphasized in the multitude of adoption education potential adoptive parents are required to do!

If you are an adoptive parent there is a very good chance you will not attach to that child right away.

Most adoptive parents are aware that their child may come home with anything, from minor attachment issues, to full-blown RAD.

They are prepared for it.

However, not many educational materials these explain these issues are common in adoptive parents. Anything from minor bonding issues to severe post-adoption depression.

Parents often are caught off-guard when they first experience PADS, because this isn’t something adoptive parents are educated about in pre-adoption education. Once the child comes home, it is very possible they feel like they are the only one with this problem. Very few people talk about it openly.

The main problem is that it isn’t an issue with the child, it is an issue with the parent. The parent can be even more depressed because they feel guilty that they can’t control it, or there might be something intrinsically wrong.

In adoption, there is so much criticism coming from every place imaginable, this is just another way for people to feel judged. People tend to keep quiet. I don’t blame them one bit.

However, I am thankful for the few strong people willing to talk about this.

Melissa Fay Greene is one of brave souls bearing it all for the well-being for other families. If any of you are unfamiliar with this remarkable woman, please educate yourself. She is a legend in the international adoption world with her very honest and articulate thoughts.

Plus, she’s hilarious. Pick up her new book and you’ll understand what I mean:

But I digress….

I read two articles by MFG a couple of days before Samuel came home from Ethiopia.

Article 1 was about her first adoption and how she suffered from post adoption panic/depression.

Article 2 was a serious article about older child adoption with a humorous undertone.

Both I NEEDED to hear. If I hadn’t come across the articles I would have been completely beside myself when Samuel came home.

If you’re in the adoption process I highly suggest reading both of those articles, and realize that not attaching with your child right away is completely normal.

My hope in the first part of this series is to start a dialogue. We should be talking about this.

Jamie Lynne Grumet is a wife and mother by way of birth and adoption. Jamie is a lactation consultant and advocate of adoptive breastfeeding. She is founder of the Fayye Foundation, dedicated to family preservation and lowering maternal mortality rates in Ethiopia. Jamie currently blogs at iamnotthebabysitter.com and also co-authors Mommyhateschemicals.com - a product review blog.

My eBook is Now Available!!!

(This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosure policy.)

The reason I first started writing this eBook was similar to the reasons that I started Adoption Magazine.  I had myself experienced hard times during different stages of our fostering and adoption journeys and had heard from countless families who were themselves struggling, whether it be in the wait before bringing a new child into their family or in the weeks, months, or years after.  A common sentiment expressed was frustration at the lack of education and resources available for families.  I often heard words such as overwhelmed, distraught, shocked, anxious, nervous, isolated, guilty, depressed, exhausted, and hopeless.  There is no doubt in my mind that adoption and foster care can be very rewarding, but they do not come without cost.

Self-care is one of those things that I am still better at preaching than practising, but that does not diminish its importance.  In fact, at the recent FASD Conference I attended, one of the main speakers as well as several of the other speakers stressed the importance of caregiver self-care and that an upcoming concern is the fallout from lack of caregiver self-care, including such things as a shorter life span and treatment for depression and stress-related illnesses.  Its priority is often overlooked or minimized.

My hope is that my new eBook, “Shield: A Framework of Self-Care for Foster and Adoptive Families” will offer support, practical suggestions, and encouragement to those in all stages of the foster or adoption journey.  My desire is for others to learn from some of my mistakes, as well as from my successes.  I hope that others will find it helpful.

What you can do:

-of course, I would love it if you would buy the book! Add to Cart Click here to read testimonials and purchase information.

-help spread the word!  For this week only, I am offering a 20% discount to anyone who commits to help promote the book by Facebook, twitter, e-mail, word of mouth, or writing a review on their blog.  Simply enter the word promote at checkout.  (note: this discount not available on Kindle format)

-tell your adoption professional, adoption agency, or foster agency.  I believe that getting this into the hands of foster and adoptive families will increase their chances of success.

-become an affiliate.  Once you have read the eBook, if you feel that it would be something that you would like to get behind, you can sign up as an affiliate and make 30% commission for each one sold through your affiliate link.  Click here for more information.

-pray or wish or hope for this endeavour.  I want to reach as many families as I can and help them to feel hopeful and encouraged.

Thank you so much for your support!  It means the world to me!

-Sharla

All About Survival

(This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosure policy.)

author:  Rana

‘The first six weeks is all about survival.’

These are the words of wisdom I received from a friend in an email after we first got home…actually I think she said this to me right before we left too.

Words to remember!

I kept my eye on that number. When we arrived home I actually looked at the calendar and said to myself “Right, 6 weeks from today we will be much better!”

I started to worry at about 4 weeks….because I was right smack, dab in the middle of my crash and I thought….6 weeks! Crazy talk! There was no way this was ever going to feel better in 6 weeks or 6 years.

Slowly, ever so slowly, as I started talking to people and blogging about it I started to feel the haze lift. It’s the best to describe how I was feeling…hazy! I think back to the first few weeks home and it is all foggy. I can’t quite remember what happened or how we made it through each day. Nothing felt real like I was having an out of body experience. Just watching from a distance.

Today we were back at the peds doctor for a follow up appointment from when we were first got home and we both felt like we were clearer. Present. In the now.

I do know the weekend of being home 6 weeks we made plans to get out of the house more. We verbally said to ourselves “We need to get out more! We need to make plans, we need to not be afraid any longer!” We decided it was time to live life as we saw it.

We had always talked about how Ade would fit into our life and not the other way around. Of course, there is give and take. There needs to be routine for him as well so he feels comfort in knowing what will happen. But we also needed to live and get out and do the things we had enjoyed.

So we took him with us…on the Sunday of our 6 weeks home we skipped nap time at home. Put the wee lad in his stroller and headed out for a walk. We stopped and grabbed coffees for our walk-about and 10 minutes in the wee one was out like a light!

Napping! In his stroller! While we walked and talked and lived our life! Amazing!

Of course he did. He had done in Ethiopia. We were very rarely at the guest house. We were out discovering the country our boy came from and he was right there with us. Why should it be any different now that we are home in Canada?

It shouldn’t be! And it won’t be.

Of course we will give him structure and routine. Only the routine we give him will also give him adventure, discovery and fun along the way. As long as he gets his naps and snacks does it matter where he has them? Not to us.

He grows with each new encounter. He loves to go for car rides and in the stroller. How do I know? Because when we put our coat and shoes on he grabs his to make sure we are taking him too. He pats the stroller seat when we get ready to go for a walk.

I digress.

This is about the 6 week survival.

It was sitting in the park looking at the river, with our son napping in his stroller and holding my husband’s hand as we chatted about what our future held with our kidlet, that I realized I was breathing again. The haze had lifted and I could see what was ahead without panic, without fear.

In its place was a new layer to our life which hadn’t existed before.

It is true.

The first 6 weeks are about survival. Making sure everyone eats and sleeps. It is a time of strangers getting to know each other. Because essentially that is exactly what we were…and to a degree still are. We are doing the courtship dance…only this courtship is instant and you are living with the one you are courting from day one. Can you imagine if you had done this with your spouse? It wouldn’t be easy. Not at all!

The first 6 weeks were a struggle. No two ways about it.

Once we established his sleeping schedule and what he liked to eat it made a huge difference. Thankfully we have a good sleeper and an amazing eater. Could this change? Yes, but now we are getting accustomed to one another so these changes or transitions will be easier. Still difficult but never as difficult as those first weeks home.

Now we have taken back control of our lives. We lost it to our own fear. We are going out to people’s houses and we are having family and friends over to our house.

We know this isn’t for everyone so early in the game. It highly depends on you and your child. Our boy loves it! We love it! We get closer from each adventure.

For now, we are breathing.

Deep breaths from the pit of our stomachs.

It feels good.

We are finding our breath, in unison, as a family of 3!


We are 3! Papa Yvan, Mama Rana, and Wee One Ade.
We came to be 3 through an International Adoption out of Ethiopia.
We reside in the “Land of Living Skies” aka Saskatchewan.
 

The Overwhelmingness of it All!

(This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosure policy.)

author:  Rana


“Did you think it would be easy?” That is the question Yvan asked me?

Nope, I didn’t! I really didn’t think it would be easy at all.

But I certainly wasn’t prepared for how hard parenting actually is.

O.k. I know…I should have been prepared somewhat….shouldn’t I have?

But let me ask you this? How do you prepare?

We were encouraged to “borrow our friend’s kids” for a day or a weekend. But that wouldn’t do it justice. In the back of your mind you would always be thinking “This is hard and these kids are little hellions but they will be going home to their parents in a couple of hours”.

The option is not there when you are faced with a wee one in your home who is yours. It’s not really a realistic view of what parenting will be like because they aren’t your kids. You can’t set the rules and boundaries. You can’t decided what time they will go to bed or have their lunch or take a nap. Those things are already in place.

We could have taken parenting classes and we looked into them. Unfortunately, in our small city all the parenting classes are geared towards birth families and newborns. Maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough but I think I was.

We also had a moving target age wise. Ade was 6 months at referral. A year when we found out the adoption might not go through. 18 months when our documents finally hit Nairobi for Visa and Immigration. All the time we were thinking “We will bring him home any day now”! I ordered books on raising a 1 year old, a 2 year old and 3 year old to cover the bases because we just didn’t know when we would get him home.

And yes! I know! I asked for this. I moaned for it! I cried over it for hours, days, and weeks on end.

I still want it.

Adoption books were scattered all over the house from my reading frenzy prior to going to Ethiopia. I gathered them together when we got home in an attempt to read all of them at once because I needed the answers to so many questions and the most important question of all was “How are we going to do this without screwing him up?”

I honestly thought we were going to cause long-term, permanent damage to him if we didn’t do everything perfectly and in every detail described in the many, many books on attachment and bonding I had been diligently collecting since we started our adoption.

I was so overwhelmed by it all! I was setting myself up for failure.

Where had the parents in Ethiopia gone? We were so free and unencumbered during our time there. We parented by instinct and it was working. We were happy and enjoyed each day with Ade as we set out on new adventures as a family of 3.

It was if we had just met Ade for the first time the moment we walked through our front door (actually the back door because we park in the garage). We froze! Well I did for sure. Yvan set about living life as normally as could be with our new addition.

It was me. I admit it. I froze. I got scared. Scared out of my wits. Who was I to be in charge of a 2 year old. How was I supposed to get him through each day alive? What was I suppose feed him? How do I keep him entertained? Should he nap for 1 hour, 2 hours…what time was the best bed time? All of these questions and more ran in a continuous loop in my brain.

I became obsessed with making sure he was attaching to us. Playing with him, sitting with him, sleeping with him….were we doing it all right? Did he want us? Was he happy? So much so, that what ended up happening was I became exhausted from thinking, planning and hoping it would all turn out so perfectly.

It won’t turn out perfectly. We aren’t perfect. Life isn’t perfect. Why did I suddenly think parenting would be anything but imperfect?

I forgot to make sure I was o.k. I forgot to give myself breaks. Yvan would say to me “Go to the gym. I will watch the boy.” I wouldn’t go…for some reason I felt I shouldn’t leave Ade or Yvan. I wouldn’t be a good mom. He would resent me if I left him for even a minute. This what I had waited so long for and now I was going to go to the gym?

The overwhelmingness of it all took over.

Then the reality of having a child at home who we had been entrusted to raise entered in the ever-running loop of crazy thoughts in my head. At bed time, I would start thinking about the next day and what it would bring. Then I started thinking about all of the days ahead. At once!

The anxiety took over and panic set in as I imagined each day of BREAKFAST, SNACK, LUNCH, NAP, SNACK, SUPPER, BEDTIME…REPEAT FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!

I couldn’t sleep thinking this what my life had become. I would be 50 years old and raising a 2 year old….I couldn’t see beyond this stage. Yvan was kind to remind “He won’t be 2 forever you know.” And all I could think was “HE WILL BE 2! FOREVER!!!!!”

I became paralzyed…didn’t want to leave the house because I HAVE A 2 YEAR OLD! How do you leave and do anything normal ever again with a toddler who is 2!

I felt like I couldn’t breathe…I was suffocating…trapped….doomed.

This is how my brain worked. No matter what I told myself or others told me.

It was awful! As my one friend said to me “It is so gross!”

It wasn’t reality…it isn’t what life will really be like..but at that moment, in my head…that was it…all that life would hold…the raising of a 2 year old and never, ever leaving my house again.

The fact it was -35 for the first 3 weeks we were home didn’t help because we weren’t actually leaving the house because it was so cold. This only compounded my fear.

Thankfully, I knew enough to ask for help. I asked Yvan. We asked his parent, my parents, our friends…I talked.

To anyone who would listen. I talked. And talked and talked.

I am still talking. It is doing me some good…it is doing us some good.

We also remembered how much Ade loves to be out and about. So we are going out. And about.

It is getting better.

I have my hard days.

Ade has his hard days.

Yvan has his hard days.

Then we have our good days…and they are really good.

We are figuring it out together.

We are 3! Papa Yvan, Mama Rana, and Wee One Ade.
We came to be 3 through an International Adoption out of Ethiopia.
We reside in the “Land of Living Skies” aka Saskatchewan.

Post Adoption/Partum Depression

(This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosure policy.)

author:  Tova

Myth or Fact?

Who cares? I’m sick and tired of people debating it’s legitimacy. The reality, is that for some people, it is their reality.

It’s certainly been mine. And my dear, brave, lovely friend Rana.

When G. man was born, it was a stressful time of our life. We had to move cities for work. We moved into a horrible apartment in a really dangerous neighborhood. The job we moved for, started to disintegrate, but so slowly that we kept believing the words that it would be fine next week. I had a new baby, no car, no neighborhood to walk through, no money, no groceries, and a husband who was stressed out and gone for 10-12 hours a day.

Um… ya. Who wouldn’t be depressed?

I clearly remember two things saving us.

One day when HOTY came home to find me curled up in the arm chair crying as hard as G. man was crying in his crib. In about the same week, we decided to move, look for different work, and I also found a GP who put me on antidepressants at my first visit.

We moved into a tiny, 330 square foot basement suite that was a hole. But we lived in a nice neighborhood, close to most of the jobs HOTY got, and much closer to people I knew. I could walk to go grocery shopping. I could just go for a walk and feel safe.

The first morning I woke up in that suite I walked outside in the brilliant sunshine and had strangers walk past and say good morning to me. Something so simple, and so profound.

I was able to start working the months that followed and it was life giving to me. Adding all these things together, and despite my mother getting diagnosed with terminal cancer, things improved in my head hugely.
Fast forward to Queen E. coming home.

This version of depression blindsided me hugely. I had fought for over 8 months for the right to bring my legal daughter home, got stuck in Ghana for an unknown period of time, with no money, and a husband and son waiting for us in Canada. The first few days home were just sheer relief at being at home. And then it all crashed in. I remember begging HOTY to not leave me with them when he had to go to work. I had all sorts of horrible thoughts and feelings. I wondered if I had made the biggest mistake. I wanted my old life back.  I was terrified, anxious, depressed, burned out, and judging myself. It took me a few months to sort out a way of starting to survive and cope. Although, I will never forget talking to our SW in that first week home and telling her a bit of what I felt. I felt so trapped at home with two children, one of which was transitioning, learning, attaching, grieving. My SW said the best thing to me.

“Tova, find someone who will be a part of her world for the long term, and book some regular time for yourself, at least once a week. Yes, this goes against all the attachment parenting advice, but if it’s a choice between following the rules, and your sanity…”

I felt like I had been given permission to do what I needed to do in order to survive. There is enormous pressure in the adoption world to do proper attachment parenting. To cocoon, and isolate for a period of time, to be the only caregiver for your child, etc.

That is ideal. It’s fabulous. If you can do it, then do it!

I can’t.

I just literally and physically can’t. Judge me if you like, but it won’t change that I’ve now had 3 professionals agree with me.

Thank God for our GG. She has been a constant for my kids. If we had grandparents that could fulfill that role, then that would be amazing. We don’t. So we have GG who has been a part of Queen E’ and B man’s world since their first weeks in Canada. Did it ruin our attachment? Nope. Did it relieve an enormous sense of pressure off of me? YES!

Tell me to stay at home with my kids, isolate ourselves, be the only ones to do all the care giving, feedings, playing, etc. and I break out in hives. I know that I ‘shouldn’t’ go public with this, but I think that others who might even feel a bit of what I’ve experienced should feel less alone, less guilt, less judgmental of their own parenting skills. Finding loving, consistent people to a part of your child’s world, can’t be a bad thing.
Post partum and adoption depression is real. It’s fraught with guilt and judgment and it’s difficult to talk about.  The good news is that there is help and hope and support. It really, truly does get better and easier.
If you’ve never experienced something like this, please try and understand that some people’s brains process things differently. People who adopted did chose to adopt, but they didn’t chose to feel afraid or depressed. Please don’t judge, please just bring soup.

Love to all mama’s who are feeling the depression, anxiety, isolation, guilt, judgment and entrapped.




Tova and her husband have 3 children at home and one on the way. (Bio, Liberia, Swaziland and a country in southern Africa in process) Tova loves to talk and write about all things African adoption, attachment, PTSD, HIV adoption, and more at: wholetthishappen.wordpress.com