Friday, November 22, 2013

Adoptive Parenting: Post Adoption Depression

Each month our agency, Lifeline, hosts a Community Night. This is a time when adoptive parents in all stages of the process can come together and listen to a pro speak on different adoption related topics. Adam and I went to the first one back in September. Dr. Jennifer Chambers of the International Adoption Clinic was talking about sleep. Well, on Monday we went to our second Community Night, which focused on Post Adoption Depression. Something I knew very little about.

I called my mom on my way home from work on Monday and told her what we were doing that night, and she was like, "That sounds... fun?" Ha! It might not have been a fun topic, but it was definitely something we needed to learn more about. Post Adoption Depression is not something that people really talk about. We like to see the "gotcha" pictures and the airport pictures and the adoption videos.

But those don't always tell the whole story.

I think one of the most important things to remember is that adoption exists because of sin in the world. Children are not adopted because everything was going great. No. Adoptions are born in some tragic circumstances. And while adoption is a beautiful and glorious picture of redemption, that redemption comes only through loss. It is so difficult to type this, but while we are over here waiting, fretting, begging and pleading for our children to come home, they are probably not thinking the same thing about us. So all of this work and pain and heart ache will eventually result in a beautiful new addition to our family. But that new addition does not get to pick us. We are strangers. Strangers who are taking our children away from anything and everything they have ever known. So, they will probably not instantly look at us with loving eyes and say, "I've been waiting so long. Thank you." Bonding with our children will take time. And that is tough to think about, because we have already spent so much time waiting for them to get here.

One of the things we focused on last night was the reality of expectations that will go unmet and how this can lead to PAD. After all of this waiting to become a family, it is probably really natural to want to feel like a nice, normal family right away. But that might not happen. After dreaming of holding our children and having them reach to us and only us for comfort, we will want those dreams to become a reality. But that might not happen right away. After all of this work on the front end, hours of education, thousands of pages of reading, countless forms and proving to governments that we are fit to be parents, we will want to feel like we are ready and that we are good parents. But we might not feel that way. Our presenter, was all about setting realistic expectations. Things might not be the fairy tale ending we are dreaming of, and that let down can lead to Post Adoption Depression.

My main take away from Monday night was that if I start to feel like I am struggling, it is OK to ask for help. I do sometimes feel like the fact that we have wanted this so badly for so long and have worked so hard to make this happen will make me feel like I should just be grateful once it happens and not ever say anything about how hard it might be. I am trying to break down that feeling and let it fall away. The reality is that I will probably struggling. At first, our children might now love me the way I already love them. I have been dreaming of and praying for our family to be united for years. That will probably not be the case for my kids. There is going to be a transition, and it might be (probably will be) a tough one. And if that happens, I need to be humble enough to be honest about it. I will need to push aside feelings of shame and "I asked for this" and "I can't believe I feel this way," and reach out to the beautiful people God has placed in my life.

Someone please remind me of that when we are in the thick of it after our darlings come home!

One book our presenter recommended that I will probably be looking into is The Post-Adoption Blues. If you are adopting, regardless of the phase you are in, check it out. And know that you are not alone!


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