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Post-adoption depression syndrome, or PADS, describes the difficulty some adoptive moms and dads experience when idealized hopes of adoption do not match reality.
Prospective adoptive parents must spend much time and energy convincing others that they will be wonderful parents. When the adopted child finally arrives, parents - especially the moms - may fall short of their self-expectations.
Factors contributing to PADS include:
As with other types of depression, there is stigma and shame experienced by parents with symptoms of PADS. Many sufferers are hesitant to discuss their unfulfilled expectations so do not get needed help and support.
“That’s why awareness of the problem is so important. It’s important that an adoptive parent seek help from a person who is aware of the dynamics of adoption and understands the unique issues of adoptive families,” says Karen J. Foli, associate professor, Purdue University School of Nursing in Indiana.
Some adoption agencies are addressing this issue by educating prospective adoptive parents about the risk for post-adoption depression, and prepare them by:
It is important for adoptive families to know that experiencing depression after an adoption is not unexpected, and that help is available.
Foli and her husband, psychiatrist John R. Thompson, are adoptive parents. They have written a helpful book addressing the reasons behind distressing emotions following an adoption called, “The Post-Adoption Blues: Overcoming the Unforeseen Challenges of Adoption.”
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