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Post Adoption Depression: NOT A Medically Recognized Diagnosis

It's likened to post-partem depression. When one has gone through the (I laughingly call it) "rigorous" adoption process, apparently, after bringing "their" new child home, 65% of adoptive mothers end up suffering from "post adoptive depression". 

That's right, fellows. You read that right. 65% of adoptive mothers claim they "become depressed" once they finally get that baby they've been "working so hard for". Yeah. Filling out a bunch of papers and answering a bunch of questions, then sitting on your ass waiting for a phone call is a LOAD of work. Especially whey compared to, oh, I don't know, being pregnant?
[[Post-adoption depression syndrome (PADS) is real.  Joni S. Mantell, MSW, founder and director of the Infertility and Adoption Counseling Center, discusses the challenges of PADS in her article entitled“Beyond Happy” (featured in Adoptive Families).   She describes symptoms of PADS as “overwhelming despair, panic, a sense of disconnection from your child, and sometimes even frightening feelings and thoughts.”  She also discusses the challenges of the post-adoption blues:

“The post adoption blues is more subtle, and alternates with, or exists right next to, truly positive feelings about parenting. These lighter shades of blue, which are much more common than PADS, can be just as isolating. After all, your dream has come true! Any tinge of guilt, sadness, shame, or dissatisfaction during what is supposed to be a joyous time is unexpected, and makes the blues hard to talk about.”

As I began learning more about PADS, I took comfort in the fact that I was not alone.  One article even stated that 65% of adoptive moms struggle with PADS.  I began sharing my struggles with other adoptive moms, and they understood.  They struggled with the same challenges but often were afraid to verbalize it.  Expressing these emotions on social media (where busy moms tend to connect) feels dangerous.   As I reached out to adoptive moms, I was shocked by the common threads of struggle, isolation, and depression mixed with joy, growth and overwhelming faith.  I knew that God had called our family to open our hearts to adoption and I cried out to Him for hope and healing.]]

[[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.]]

These articles are the closest to anything "scientific" I found on the subject, except one article stating they had studied "a group of 112 adoptive mothers" and another, almost two hundred page report, that I had to pay $42 just to view (if I want to buy the report it's $150). I don't have $42 just laying around... I have three young children instead. I can't find anything else, really. Most of the articles I found reiterate the information contained in these two, with some extra pro-adoption propaganda or religious gaslighting thrown in.

In post-partem depression, there is a chemical change in the mother's body, so palpable you can actually smell it in her sweat. (My old man said I smelled different, lol, and after asking around I found that it wasn't isolated to me. Hence the conclusion.) I can tell you, after spitting out a kid, you don't feel human half the time. You cry at Kodak and Hallmark commercials. Hell, one time I cried at a Prego commercial. It tastes like family, you know. Your thoughts are not your own, and there are times it gets dark and fucking scary. And I don't scare easy, I'm a pro haunted house actor. I haven't seen a scary horror movie since the 80s. The last book that scared me was IT by Stephen King. I read it the summer I was eleven (if you know the book, you'll understand the irony there. All the kids in the book were eleven also).

Even with all that, and the fact that I've lived through enough hell to only sweat the stuff worth sweating, PPD scared the shit out of me.  The third and last time was the worst; I spent eighteen months swimming in a darkness I couldn't see through, a darkness that tainted my whole world and made the brightest, sunniest day look dark and shadowed. I had a counsellor coming my house twice a week, that's how bad it was.

Now, back to the point. Post-Adoptive Depression. Referred to by some of my wittier cohorts as "buyer's remorse". (Snicker into my cupped hand.) 

I know of no changes that occur in an adoptive female's biochemistry when an adoption is finalized and they get to take the child to their home. Depression is a biochemical response. Which makes me think it's not "depression" at all.

I can, believe it it not, understand what it must be like to bring an unhappy, terrified infant or child into your home. The extra noise, the disruption of your routine, both daily and nightly. The extra expenses, food, clothing, toys, health care, glasses, dentists, vaccinations, diapers, puke, piss, shit everywhere... in this respect bringing home an adoptee is not that different from bringing home your own new child. You and everyone else in your household has to adjust to the new little person in your midst.

The difference is, this little person is traumatized and doesn't want you. This little person screams in terror and anguish. This little person pushes at you and "seems to hate you". This little person probably does hate you, because it wants its mommy AND THAT'S NOT YOU.

Yeah. That sucks. It doesn't cause a chemical imbalance. It doesn't cause you to not be able get out of bed or have thoughts of strangling your children with your bare hands.  It might make you cry. Crying isn't depression, don't delude yourself. It might make you sad. Sadness isn't depression, don't delude yourself. If this situation triggers some sort of real depression in you, then you are no more fit to take care of that child than its biological mother who is currently suffering not only from post partem depression, but also grieving the loss of the child that you aren't sure you want to keep. The child that caused you to be depressed is being mourned by its real mother. But you don't think about that, do you? You probably try not to think about her at all. It ruins the illusion that the child "belongs to you".

So it didn't turn out the way you wanted it to. This child is not the beautiful little baby you dreamed of. Your expectations were disappointed by this traumatized, terrorized, dejected little person. Too bad. You signed the paper. It's "yours" now.

You, my dear, should have read up on adoption trauma and the primal wound before you signed on. You should have let go of your expectations of perfection. That doesn't happen with biological children. You're stuck with whatever comes out of you. Why is the adoptee so special that it's going to be the perfect child you can't produce? If you know kids aren't perfect, why the HELL do you think we will be? What makes you think that it's our job to complete your sad little life?

The infertility treatments, the paperwork, the interviews. So difficult. All by choice. They dissect your life. As well they should. You're asking them to give you A PERSON and the $13,000 government grant that comes with them (tax free). Then there's the fear the you will lose the child to its biological mother. The child belongs with its biological mother. Give it back and save yourself the hassle and depression.

And then, wondering if you'll keep the child or "dissolve your adoption". The fact that you even consider giving away a child that's already been given away, because it might be to much for YOU, makes me either want to vomit on you or throw you on a goddamn train track. 

I don't have the option of dissolving my parenthood. If I dissolve my parenthood I'm relinquishing my children. So why don't we call a spade a spade? When you "dissolve", "disrupt", or "rehome" your child, you are relinquishing that child just like its actual mother did. You're adding insult to injury. That child has already been relinquished before. You're actually worse, because YOU KNOW that this child had been through hell, but you consider giving it away, because parenting it might be too hard ON YOU.

Then the AP is all sad we don't bond they way they want. That must be SO awful for YOU, to have to care for a child you don't bond with, and probably don't love all that much. Keep in mind I can feel your emotional rejection. That must be SO terrible for YOU. You know what? It sucks lot more for my little baby self.

Is there any part of "post adoptive depression" that isn't set in selfish fear and self pity? I don't really believe it if you say it isn't. Even if the depression is real, the selfish, small reasons it's triggered make me want to be sick.

AP, look at it this way. I am your adoptive daughter. You just got me. I am eight months old. I know my mother and father very well. I also know that they are gone. I know that I don't know you. I know that I don't want you. I want them. I've been screaming for them for months, because unlike many other babies who become quiet when they get dejected and depressed once they realize mom and dad aren't ever coming back, I didn't. I didn't give up. I still scream for my father. The only person that can calm me is your husband. Because he reminds me, just a little, of my father that dropped me of at some office building with with a bunch of other terrified infants. I know the name you call me is not my own. I'm old enough to know, have been for at least five months. You underestimate my intelligence and  awareness. And you're so busy thinking about how all this affects you, that you don't even spare a thought for what I'm going through. You're so busy allowing the choice you made destroy your emotional well being, that you don't take into consideration how your choice obliterated my emotional well being. Because get this... I HAVE NO CHOICE, AND I HAVE NO VOICE. You, the adoption industry (because it IS a multi-hundred-million dollar a year INDUSTRY, make no mistake,) and my biological parents took that choice away from me. You took my voice, my rights, my identity, my ability to ever be classified as anything but the eternal child. Thanks so much for the "better life".

You know, my Aparents were rolling in cash. Didn't make my life better. My biodad would have at least loved me unconditionally, because I was actually his kid. More money, a nice house, and fancier things does not equal a better life. Get that through your thick skulls now. 

The only guarantee with adoption is loss; the loss of the biological mother and the child. The AP loses some time and money and privacy to the bureaucratic machine that decides my fate. That's BIG when you consider a) you have asked for the bureaucratic invasion, and b) the loss I and my real parent are suffering under. I can see why you'd be depressed. 

I hope you can HEAR the eyeroll that followed that statement, because I think I cracked an eyeball.


  1. Replies
    1. This is a blog, not a news article. Do you have a point?

    2. Beautifully and eloquently said - I think you make your point so very clearly - thanks -

  2. Love it!! Thanks for this it gave me life.


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