Post-adoptive parents are also prone to experience depression after the adoption. This has been recognized by researchers, and the causes are being explored. They may range from personal stressors such as infertility and lack of parenting skills, to the emotional residue of past treatments and failures to conceive, lack of support for the adoption, and physical or emotional stresses of raising children.
Post-adoptive depression symptoms do not vary much from typical depression. These may include the following:
A feeling of sadness or dejection persisting throughout the day for most days
Not feeling interested or motivated to initiate or carry out activities which used to be attractive earlier
Weight changes due to eating too little or too much
Sleep disturbances such as insomnia, hypersomnia, or interrupted sleep
Agitated behavior or anger
Withdrawal from social interactions with peers or family
Feelings of being worthless
Guilt and shame about one’s own life
Not being able to take simple decisions
Always feeling tired
Constant tension headaches
Aches and pains without an identifiable physical basis
Lack of concentration and forgetfulness
Feeling of being overwhelmed by parenting and family responsibilities
The thought that life is passing one by while one’s time and energy is occupied by the new child almost exclusively
Suicidal thoughts or fixation upon thoughts of death
What Might Cause Post-Adoptive Depression?
Biological birth is associated with many anxiety-inducing factors such as the wide fluctuation in hormone levels that accompanies pregnancy and delivery, the change in body shape and function, emotional liability, and physical stresses of childrearing. However, adoptive parents have their own set of stressors to face.
These include the past experience of infertility and its unsuccessful treatment in many cases, the feeling of lack of self-worth and social rejection, and the inflated expectation of a perfect family following adoption. Mistrust of the new child actually accepting the parents as his or her own parents, and a fear that bonding may not be perfectly achieved, add to these stresses.
These may be exacerbated by the long and demanding adoption process, which may be costly as well. The finding that all of society does not look upon an adopted child as kindly as the parents do may also contribute to the onset of depression, together with the normal stresses of parenting. Overall, however, adoptive women are not as depressed as postpartum mothers, when many measures are assessed.
Reviewed by Susha Cheriyedath, MSc References