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Coping with PADS, Continued

Continued from Coping with PostAdoption Depression

Finding Support for Difficult Feelings

While the adoption process is almost complete, the end to the roller coaster ride may appear remote. Being a new parent is stressful in itself. I tell most of my adoptive parents that it takes anywhere from two to six months to begin to bond with your child. In the meantime, your job is to:

Keep your child safe, healthy, and nurtured. This is your job. And it’s okay if don’t enjoy it all the time.  You have a new little person in your life, and it will take some time to build a relationship.

Acknowledge that you don’t yet feel that warm, loving contentedness you expected. Please don’t suffer in silence. Talk with your adoption agency. You may benefit from seeing your doctor or a counselor, too. But let’s start by talking openly.

Take some breaks from parenting. Enlist the help of a friend or family member to take care of the baby so you can do something you find fulfilling.

Take the baby out for walks or out on errands when allowed by the pediatrician. Getting out of the house is imperative! Taking your baby for a walk can be very fulfilling. I have found it helps remedy feelings of isolation.

Find a sitter who can come in and stay with the baby while you take a nap. Sleep is so helpful to our outlook on everything.

Find a mother, father, or parent group in your area so you can have social interaction with others who are learning to parent.

Continue to snuggle with your baby whenever you can. The physical closeness with your baby will help build that important bond.

Make an Advance Plan

Whether you adopted or gave birth to your baby, bonding is not always instantaneous and can take time. Remember to consider this in advance as you prepare for your adoption. During the last weeks before your birthmother gives birth, there will certainly be a lot to prepare. I encourage pre-adoptive parents to educate themselves on the symptoms of post-adoption depression so they will know if they need to get some support after their baby is home.

There is Hope

One of the most important messages to convey to post-adoptive parents who might be suffering from depressive symptoms is that there is hope. Bonding does happen. Love and connection come together! You will love your baby, and you will bond with him or her. It just may take some extra assistance, time, and openness. In a recent study1, researchers in Canada examined support needs of new adoptive parents. They found that participants who were experiencing a feeling of lack of social support, among other challenges, found that connection and encouragement from other experienced adoptive parents proved particularly valuable. In the study, post-placement mentorship programs were found to be desirable for new adoptive parents’ adjustment.

With support and guidance, you can look back on this time as another phase of your adoption journey that helped you become a deeper person for experiencing it.

1: “The Transition to Adoptive Parenthood: A Pilot Study of Parents Adopting in Ontario, Canada,” by Katherine McKay and Lori Ross, is in the April issue of Children and Youth Services Review (Volume 32, Issue 4).

Continued from Coping with PostAdoption Depression

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