No one talked to me about post-adoption depression until after we adopted.
It wasn’t something I ever heard discussed outside of adoption circles.
Maybe it’s time to change that? Here’s part of my story.
I was crying the ugly cry in my hospital room after my daughter was born. A nice nurse found me some Kleenex. She was kind to me, patting my shoulder.
“This happens sometimes, honey. Talk to your doctor about meds.” She discreetly slid a pamphlet into my snotty little hands:
“All About Post-Partum Depression”
Say what? I was too embarrassed to tell the nice nurse that my tears were due to a double whammy of episiotomy stitches and constipation. My hoo-hah felt like it was on fire and I hadn’t pooped in three days. Trust me, you would cry too.
This was in 1992. There were no Angry Birds or smart phones. My baby was blissfully asleep and I was tired of reading my 3-year-old issue of Redbook. Bored, I flipped through the literature. I learned postpartum depression (PPD) is a clinical diagnosis characterized by symptoms of depression after childbirth, sometimes referred to as “the baby blues.”
Counting myself lucky I didn’t experience PPD, I went home. The stool softeners did their thing. My stitches healed and my lady bits seemed to return to normal…or as close as they were gonna get.
Over the years that followed, I had occasion to meet other women who suffered from PPD and I was always grateful for the nurse who’d taken a few moments to educate me. Awareness is a good thing, people.
Eighteen years later, I was a new mom again. My husband and I adopted a little boy after our daughter grew up and moved out because that whole quiet house and lots of freedom thing wasn’t working out for us.
Watch Jess Rowe talk in brutal honesty about her experience wiht post-natal depression. (Post continues after video.)
It was 2011. Times had changed and I had Facebook and Google in my arsenal, so I was instantly connected with a huge network of adoptive families who were in the same boat as us.
I discovered “mom groups” and amidst the snark and judging, I learned a lot and made a few good friends. I heard murmurs about post-adoption depression (PAD).
I heard about families who experienced stress over difficulty attaching to their adopted child. I read about the guilt and shame that went with the aftermath of “wow, we have a kid…now what?” Similar to postpartum depression…ya know… without the postpartum.
I was smug. I was a sanctimommy, I admit it.
I thought that anyone having trouble bonding with a wanted, chosen child was doing something wrong.
We brought home our son Zack from China in 2012. Things were peachy-keen. I was completely head over heels with this kid from day one and pretty much all I wanted to do was kiss his head. I counted my blessings and tsk-tsk’ed at all of the moms who were complaining about feeling depressed and unable to feel attachment.