PAD sucks

Post

Adoption

Depression

SUCKS and I should know.

{The beginning of this post sat in my drafts folder for almost a month now. I wanted to make sure that I had truly kicked its booty before posting. It’s not that I didn’t want to share my thoughts a month ago. It’s that I wanted to be able to really reflect back on the dark days. It is hard to reflect if you are still living in the dark days. Alas, here I am looking back. The days are bright, and for that I’m extremely thankful!}

When we first held Odette in our arms on May 11th, 2012 our world changed forever. Our dreams became a reality. The choirs of angels were singing. We had our daughter! For the rest of our lives we will have this young, tender life to care for.

The first days were filled with celebration and excitement. The three of us were inseparable for over 3 weeks. We look millions of pictures, shared many “firsts”, praised God constantly for the miracle of Odette being home, and we loved life. We were also jetlagged, sick, sleepless, communicating through charades, and visiting doctor after doctor. But, we were so happy.

Then Jeff went back to work.

The first week as just the two of us was fun. We went to the zoo, had picnics, played at the park, painted. All that fun stuff that I was looking forward to someday doing with her.

Then life got tough.

I was still sick. She was sick. Charades continued. Wills were put to the test. There were meltdowns by her. There were meltdowns by me. I couldn’t explain anything to her. She resisted most affection. Naps weren’t happening. We were trying to adjust to everyday life. It was so very different from life as I knew it. Different from life as she knew it. I was convinced I was a terrible mom. Then there was our home. Laundry needed done. Groceries needed bought. The house needed cleaned. I couldn’t keep up with anything. Add terrible wife to the list. We’d scared everyone off with our cocooning letter. I felt very alone. Except I had this kid following me around e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e.

This is what I prayed for? This is what I begged God to give me? What was I thinking? I ruined not only my life but her life, too. Things were hard. I was confused. I didn’t get it. Raising a kid couldn’t really be that hard. Could it?

Oh, it could be. It was for me. I’ve seen friends go through the adjustment of having a baby. They’d post on Facebook about no sleep or colic or being spit up on. Everyone would comment, “sleep when they sleep”, “try swaddle”, “Frankie loved the swing. Want to borrow ours?” Etcetera, etcetera. I didn’t have an infant that would eventually sleep so I could sleep. Her crying could mean much more than hungry, tired, or dirty diaper. She is three. I couldn’t let her cry it out. I couldn’t put her in the crib and walk away for a cool down. She was torn away from the only life she’d known. She didn’t want to be rocked and soothed. She was in a strange house with strange people speaking strange words giving her strange food. Adoption adds a while new level of challenge to parenthood. Odette needed so much from me. But I felt like I was letting her (and everyone else) down. And I didn’t think I could ask for help.

This is what I prayed for. This is what I begged God to give me. How could I let anyone think that I wasn’t cut out for this. Would they laugh? Would they say told you so? Would they call our social worker? Would they ask for their donated money back? I felt like I had nowhere to turn. It was hard.

Somewhere around week 6, so about after 4 weeks of the funk, the clouds began to part and I could see the light.

Things started to clear when I googled “post adoption depression”. What I read was staggering. “Post adoption depression or PAD affects over 65 percent of adoptive mothers.” I AM NOT ALONE. There is a real reason for feeling this way! I am not going to hell. I am not the worst mother and wife on the face of the earth! This is ok and things will get better!

They did almost instantly.

I wanted to write this today to share with you the good, bad, and the ugly. I keep it real on the blog. If you know someone who has adopted or is in the process be on the lookout for PAD. I am not placing any blame what so ever, but I want to offer suggestions of what might have helped me.

  • Ask how mom and dad are doing. Don’t just focus on the child.
  • Drop by with a bottle of wine or dvd for mom and dad when you bring a gift over for the the child.
  • Ask what you can do to help. Push help even if is turned away.
  • When you are amazed that the new child has learned x, y, or z so quickly, praise mom and dad for their efforts.
  • If you visit the family, sit with mom and dad and listen to their story. Comb through the pictures with them. They have so much on their hearts to share about the journey. Listen.
  • Ask how attachment is going. Don’t assume the new family is truly, madly, deeply in love. One of THE hardest things for me personally was when someone would say “Oh, I just love her!” or “Isn’t it love at first sight?” or really anything with love. The love a mom and dad have for their child takes time (at least it did for me). When other people threw out the love word, the pain was deep and agonizing. I didn’t need help feeling guilty.

PAD is real.

If you are an adoptive mom (or dad) yourself be mindful of PAD. You are not alone. How you are feeling is not wrong. Give yourself a break. Don’t bear the weight of the world on your shoulders. And ask for help.

Thanking God that my PAD is a thing of the past.

(The post was originally published on July 30 and then removed when I started to feel that I was coming across as ungrateful.  I thought about, but then decided against, editing it before reposting.  I’ve mentioned it before, but his blog is my opportunity to share with other adoptive families.  I hope that my family and friends are understanding of the motive and take no offense.)

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5 thoughts on “PAD sucks

  1. So, so true Sarah. Our expectations far exceed our reality – at least at first. It takes every family/person a different amount of time to get over those hurdles. A great book that may help some of your followers is “Post Adoption Blues”…which I need to read again to prepare myself!

  2. as always, I appreciate your honesty. I think I’m generally a bit prone to getting really down. now that we’re adopting, I’m preparing for the possibility of PAD. thanks for posting!

  3. Love to you, Sarah! Your journey is YOUR journey and nobody else can judge. I’m so grateful that He is leading you into your new role as an adoptive mom – with all of the trials and tribulations that come with it. And I know that He is supporting you through these joyous/difficult times.

  4. Thank you for posting this. I am afraid this is what will happen to me, I already have some of these thoughts and my girls aren’t even here yet. Good on you for being honest and telling the reality of it all.

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