Over and over I see adoptive parents, moms mainly, ask “is it normal to feel this way.” They didn’t realize when preparing for adoption that all the whirlwind of emotions you feel as you prepare for placement to take place come to a screeching halt when the reality of having a baby in your home hits them.
So, the short answer is yes! It is normal and it’s a real issue that needs to be discussed more than it is.
As individuals prepare for adoption, attention can be focused on all the paperwork, the profile book, health checks, getting funds together, preparing a space for a baby, and so on. Little preparation goes into what happens after the baby gets home. Little preparation goes into the weight of caring for a newborn, the lack of sleep, who will do what around the house or with the baby, the lack of outside help or support, work, and everyday life stressors.
Research suggests about 20-25% of adoptive moms will deal with symptoms of post adoption depression, which is 1 in 4 women…. that’s common! So why isn’t this being talked about? Why aren’t women sharing their stories? Why aren’t adoption professionals preparing families of this reality and how to seek help if this happens?
When these emotions arise, moms may feel guilty for even feeling them, which makes it worse. It’s a compound of emotions. They will feel guilty because they got what they wanted in having a family, they have this precious new baby, and another mom has empty arms, so they beat themselves up for struggling when they “should feel happy”
Many triggers can cause depression… lack of sleep, feeling overwhelmed, feelings of guilt and sadness for the birth parents, and so on.
People report feeling:
Severe mood swings
Changes in appetite
Changes in sleep patterns
Fatigue and loss of energy
Reduced enjoyment of activities that used to interest you
Intense anger or irritability
Feelings of guilt, shame or worthlessness
Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
Severe anxiety and panic attacks
Difficulty bonding with baby
Feelings of doubt or inadequacy as a parent
Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
Please note, we are not medical professionals and we can not diagnose you. Please seek out professional help if you are concerned that you might harm yourself or your child. Dial 911 or reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255). It’s ok not to be ok. Please reach out for help.
Remember there is an adjustment period for every life changing event. Show yourself grace. Show your spouse grace. Show your child grace. You are all getting to know each other and learn the new normal.
Have reasonable expectations. Society, social media, and other mom shamers portray unrealistic ideas of what motherhood should look like. The truth is, we are all figuring this out as we go. We are figuring out what our children need based on what is best for them. We are figuring out what our new family unit needs. This will vary from family to family, don’t compare yourself to others… that will only cause more intense feelings of guilt. It’s ok to parent differently.
Have a great support system. Before placement even takes place, start talking with and building your support system. Friends, family, church, community groups, and more. Create solid relationships so that after placement, you continue to have a support system that will be able to check in on you and you feel comfortable with to tell you aren’t ok.
Create healthy habits. Before placement (or as soon as possible), start creating healthy habits. Healthy foods, great sleep, physical activity, and a hobby that can be your outlet. Talk with your spouse or support system about how these things are important to you and how they can help you achieve these things. When we have healthy habits, those things greatly affect our mental health as well!
We hope this helps and some of this information starts preparing your heart and mind for what could take place. We know adoption is a difficult thing for all members of the triad, so supporting one another is key!
Blog post by: Mallory Fogas, Owner of Arrow and Root