Resources

Below you will find some interesting articles and tips for families post-placement. Click on the links to download the guide.

Communicating with traumatised children

Contact after adoption

The emotional significance of food

Tips for building an attachment with your child

Post-Adoption Blues

It isn’t only biological mothers who might feel low after a new child arrives. Nursing professor Karen J. Foli wrote these tips to help adoptive parents cope.

The unexpected and exhausting demands of parenthood may lead to post-adoption depression, according to new Purdue University research.

"Feeling tired was by far the largest predictor of depression in mothers who adopted," says Karen J. Foli, the study's lead author. "It may be reflective of a lacking social support system that adoptive parents receive."

Foli and co-authors Susan C. South and Eunjung Lim surveyed 300 mothers of children who were 4.6 years old on average when they were adopted for their research in Advances in Nursing Science. They found that many of the respondents assumed they wouldn't require as much help as birth mothers since they didn't carry the child or go through labour. They also uncovered other predictors of the post-adoption blues, including poor self-esteem, marital problems, difficulty in parent-child attachment, and perceived lack of support from family and friends.

Foli shares five tips for adoptive parents who may be overwhelmed with the latest additions to their families.

Remember that you're not alone. Though it's easy to believe that you're the only adoptive parent who's struggling, the research showed that approximately 18 to 26 percent of new adoptive parents deal with depressive symptoms. You may feel intense shame and guilt, and have thoughts like, "I'm a horrible monster. No one else feels this way."

Don't listen to these thoughts; they will only weaken your self-esteem.  Instead, keep in mind that parenting a child can be a very challenging experience -- for anyone. Give yourself permission to feel what you're feeling and remind yourself that you're going to get through this with help and support.

Attaching to your child may take time. You've waited months, often years, for your child to come to you. This is a goal that you've planned for and anticipated through every step of the adoption process. Why, then, does your child not feel like your child?  As parents have reported, it often takes time to build an attachment with a child and, similarly, your child may need time to get attached, depending on what his or her experiences were prior to coming to you. He may have experienced less than optimal conditions in his birth home that makes trust and emotional commitment difficult. Remember, it's a new relationship for both of you.

Get enough rest. One of the biggest contributors to post-adoption depression that we found in our research was that parents didn't feel rested. Because adoptive mothers don't go through labour and delivery, they often overlook the physical demands of a new child and don't get the support they need. It is tempting to try to get some of your old life back after children have gone to bed.  Whilst it is important to try to make time for what you enjoy and for what helps you to psychologically "recharge" you really need to ensure you get a good night’s sleep so that you can be engaged, energetic, and enthused with your child.

Examine your expectations. Adoptive parents sometimes forget that the end of the adoption process is really the beginning of parenting. Because of the intense scrutiny that they undergo in the screening phase, they may feel that they have to be "super parents," a title that is hard to live up to once the child is placed. Be sure that your expectations are as realistic as possible. We found that the expectations mothers held about themselves, their child, their family, and their friends contribute to their depressive symptoms. Don't be afraid tell and explain to your partner, family, and friends that you need support.

Seek help for yourself and for the benefit of your child and family. We know from the literature that surrounds postpartum depression that children can experience negative effects from parents who struggle with depression. Research in adoptive parent households indicates the same patterns. Please ask for help. You can attend PACT’s Attachment Focussed Parenting course – there is no cost to PACT adopters.  You can also call PACT and ask to speak to the Strengthening Families Team who can give you some useful tips and support you and your family or access our Virtual Support Clinic at any time.  Invite your friends and family to attend the Friends and Family course offered by PACT so that they can truly appreciate what it is like to parent an adopted child.  PACT also offers support groups, imPACT days, an annual Family Fun Day and workshops throughout the year.  You do not have to do this alone; PACT is here for you every step of the way.