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Anxiety and Stress Disorders

Post-Adoption Depression Syndrome

01/30/2007

Question:

My husband and I adopted a baby girl internationally about 6 months ago. We have 1 biological daughter, who is 2 1/2 years older than the second. We adopted due to secondary infertility.

Although our new baby is doing well (meeting milestones, attached to us and adjusting to daycare), I am not feeling very attached to her. When she cries at night due to illness or other cause, I become angry and agitated instead of loving and nurturing.

Meal time is also particularly difficult for me because she is demanding and anxious the entire time. She gorges on her food and becomes very upset if you `run out` of food while feeding her. She is very impatient, which makes me impatient with her in return. I often find myself yelling back at her, which I feel horrible about.

At times, I feel like I regret adopting her, and feel really guilty about it. I have (at times) fantasized about leaving her with some one else to take care of her.

What can I do to get rid of these feelings? I have read that PADS (post adoption depression syndrome) is common, but everyone only writes about the initial few months of bringing a child home. Will I ever feel attached and loving towards her?

I`m afraid my ill feelings towards my adopted child are noticeable to my older daughter, and worse, to the baby herself. Any advice would be appreciated.

Answer:

It certainly sounds like you are going through some stressful times - you don't say how old your children are, but it sounds like they are quite a handful.  I would recommend that you consider some counseling and adoption support.  Most adoption agencies offer post-adoption support for parents, and if you haven't talked to your adoption social worker about these issues, that would be a good place to start.  Don't feel that you are the only one who feels this way - many adoptive parents have not felt that initial rush of love, attachment and bonding they expected, and then the guilt and frustration makes parenting even harder.  Almost all these parents eventually found that their love and attachment grow strong and healthy.

Some individual counseling for you might also be helpful, especially if you can find a counselor who has experience with adoption matters.  Your agency may help you locate such a person, or you can ask counselors in your area for referrals.

check out the CASE website -- Center for Adoption Support and Education at http://www.adoptionsupport.com/ or the Adoptive Families web site (http://www.adoptivefamilies.com/) for more information and advice. 

Good Luck.

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Response by:

Nancy   Elder, MD Nancy Elder, MD
Associate Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati