It’s something you didn’t expect. You can just see yourself the day you heard the news that the adoption is final and the day you finally brought your baby home. Ah, the euphoria and joy you felt. Strangely, the excitement faded away… into something darker.
If you are struggling with feelings of despondency and loss after a successful adoption, do not be afraid. You are not alone. Post adoption depression is more common than you think. Here are some things you can do to cope:
– Recognize what you are feeling. Look for signs that you are undergoing depression. Or perhaps, if you are a spouse, be on alert for symptoms of depression displayed by your spouse. Often, the person going through this will not recognize the signs. These include a loss of interest with social contact or with engaging with the child, irritability and a feeling of constant fatigue, oversleeping, weight loss or gain that is significant enough to be noticed, feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, excessive feelings of guilt or trouble focusing and concentrating.
– Take care of yourself. Some new parents pour themselves into parenting their new child and going at it with unrealistic expectations. Soon, their bodies give out and their feelings follow. It is easy to feel and be overwhelmed with the momentous responsibility of being a parent. The important thing to do is to daily set aside time to build your physical and emotional strength. Be sure to take the rest you need. Maintain a healthy lifestyle with a good diet and regular exercise. Limit the events that tend to stress you out. If you can, take time off from work.
– Ease into your new role. Give yourself time to bond with your child. Avoid inundating yourself with social events and visitors. Your loved ones and friends will be naturally excited for the new addition to the family, but give yourself some time to adjust to your new role as a parent. Limit visits to something that you can easily handle but do not totally close your doors to loved ones and friends. Instead, allow for some opportunities for adult interaction so that you can “recharge” without tiring yourself too much.
– Let others help you. You and your spouse do not have to go through this on your own. Allow loved ones and friends to show their love by enlisting them to help with the household chores. You can also connect with other parents who have adopted. There may be support groups and play groups in your area.
– Do not expect perfection. Sometimes, parents who have waited long to finally bring home their child have raised their standard of parenthood and when they see themselves coming up short to these standards, inundate themselves with feelings of guilt. Relax. You are not perfect, nor should you be.
– Have some “me time”. Do not feel guilty about taking some time away from your child from time to time to simply recharge and relax. You can also have some “baby and me” time where you go out with your child. Do not lock yourselves up inside your home, go out and smell some fresh air! With the onset of winter, depression can more easily set in if you stay cooped up inside your house.
– Seek professional help. These feelings of depression may be deeply rooted and may need professional intervention. The life-changing event of building your family through adoption may trigger a variety of feelings that you need to thresh out – feelings of inadequacy or insecurity, an identity crisis related to the loss of career or fears you have about being a parent. Professional counseling can help you thresh out these feelings and give you tools to enable you to positively deal with any issues.
About A Act of Love Adoptions
A Act of Love Adoptions seeks to provide a holistic approach to adoptions. This includes providing in-depth counseling to would-be parents and providing them with tools they can use as parents who have built their family through adoption. Believing that information and experienced guidance are important factors long after the adoption is finalized, A Act of Love offers post-adoption counseling as well.