Saturday, November 28, 2009

Post Adoption Depression

I started reading Post Partum Progress a long time ago when I was preparing for the birth of my child. I wanted to know all I could about PPD in case I ended up having it so I could treat it as soon as possible. Luckily, I did not experience anything past the expected few days of minor "baby blues" but I've kept with the blog as much as I can because I think it is really interesting. Recently, she took up the subject of Post Adoption Depression which I had never heard of, but which is apparently more common than most people realize.

Katherine (PPP's writer) invited Elizabeth Elias to write about her experience with PAD. These are the parts I found particularly salient.
I felt no bond with her and I was overwhelmed by her needs. I wanted to love her, desperately and immediately. But bonds are not always instant and need to be nurtured. I grew overwhelmed. My guilt over not having instant love for her was huge. She called my name with every breath she took: Momma, momma, momma, momma. I couldn't find my footing. I craved my own space. I knew she needed and deserved for me to step up. This poor child had never had a mother to love her. I wanted to be that person but I failed. I failed daily for a year.

My guilt turned to anger. Rage. Because of her I was proving to be a bad mother. I felt very much alone. I loathed my existence. The guilt was everything I breathed, thought and did. I regretted the adoption. I felt trapped.

The truth is 65% of adoptive mothers go through post-adoption depression. That is a lot of women suffering in silence. The secrecy and the guilt kept me chained much longer in that dark negative space than I needed to be. Now I know that it was nothing that I asked for or deserved, nothing that I had done wrong. The blame did not lay with me either. It was simply a dark experience I was going through. There was nothing to be ashamed about. Nothing to hide.

In the times that I had negative feelings about my birth experience (which alternated with positive feelings) "trapped" was the most accurate description I could have given you for how I felt, closely followed by guilt. I didn't regret having my child at any point, but I had serious doubts about whether I should have had him because I didn't feel like I could possibly be the mother that he needed and deserved. It is lonely, and if I hadn't had an excellent support system to back me up, I think the loneliness could have easily become overwhelming. I think most mothers have a lot of guilt surrounding these types of feelings because we're generally taught that motherhood means an instant and blissful bond and a joyful feeling of family completion. To be sure, I was thrilled that my son was here, but there were lonely difficult times too that the world at large never really tells you about. I'm really glad there are sites like this that let women know that it's okay to have these feelings and to share them and if needed to seek out treatment. I think the shame and the hiding is a big part of what leads to the tragedies.

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