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Post adoption blues

(25 Posts)
Buster51 Fri 08-Nov-13 13:53:41

My partner & I have adopted his 4 year old nephew. He doesn't remember us from before his foster care placement, & he now knows us as his forever family, mummy & daddy.

We are 3 weeks into his placement with us, & I must admit I have found it a lot harder than I thought I ever would.

My partner is in the forces. So will be leaving soon for work, it will be me & little man, my worry is he is more comfortable with his daddy, seems to clearly be finding it difficult (understanbly so) a new "mummy". I have found this "rejection" very hard to deal with, more than I should! & as I result worry for when it is just me & him. He is improving I must add, he wouldn't sit by me at all 3 weeks ago.

Aside from the above I find myself just wanting to sleep all of the time (when he is at school!) I have lost all motivation to do anything, this is a whole new life for me, no previous children, straight out of a full time, demanding job to 6 months off work. I cry easily, & have to keep reminding myself why we are doing this.

I just wanted to know if these are normal post adoption feelings? & tips on how to start to enjoy your "new life" & changes that adoption brings.

Thank you!


OP’s posts: |
Italiangreyhound Fri 08-Nov-13 14:35:30

Buster51 bless you my dear.

Sadly, I can't advise I am not yet an adopter but did not want to read and run. Please take care of yourself. Find some fun things to while little man is at school. Find some local people, other mums and meet for coffee in daytime for mutual support. There will be some clubs actiivties in area which will be suitable at some time. Some churches run things, family centre etc where you can meet other mums, via school etc. You need support.

Also, make time for an excercise element a day, a walk or swim etc to re-envigorate you.

am sure little man will find fun things to do with you when dad is away and through those shared activities (like painting a picture to send to dad) or icing a cake etc he will grow closer to you.

I am sure it will be fine but as to whether how you feel is normal I will let adopters reply and even if this is outside of what others have experienced I am sure you can overcome it one step at a time.

Hayleyh34 Fri 08-Nov-13 14:38:53

Hi, I had post-adoptive depression at about 3 months in and it lasted for quite a while.

Everything felt so overwhelming and I really at times that I wasn't cut out for it at all.

I got through it with the support of friends and family as well as realising that I needed to be kind to myself. I also forced myself to go out every day, especially when I didn't want to.

I still tend to be very hard on myself and panic a bit when things aren't going well but that's just me!

With hindsight, I probably should have seen my GP but felt that I had no "right" to feel the way I was feeling

Hayleyh34 Fri 08-Nov-13 14:40:15

Sorry should have added - we went from having 0 children to adopting a 3 year old.

I wish I had acknowledged at the time how bloody hard that would be for most people, not just me!

Lilka Fri 08-Nov-13 15:37:41

At this stage, what you are feeling is quite common. Your life has totally changed and the stress of that on your body can make you feel dreadful. As Hayleyh34 said, sometimes adoptive parents get caught by feeling "I should be happy, something's wrong with me, I have no right to be so sad when I've just got my child I've struggled so hard to bring into my life". But actually, no, there's NOTHING wrong with you if you're feeling down, it's not at all uncommon and you have every right to feel this way

But, if these feelings continue for weeks, then I really advise you to go and see your GP, because post adoption depression is very real (research has shown it to be pretty similar to post natal depression) and suffering in silence is not good

Right now, look after yourself. As Italian suggested, try and do a bit of excercise daily, eat well (try and get down the amount of calories you normally eat even if you're appetite is reduced and have healthy energy foods) at regular intervals, set times to sleep at night, and don't allow yourself to sleep for long periods during the day, that might all help you and your body. Also if you have time to do something nice for you, like take a long hot bath. It's very hard when you have no motivation, but IMHO keeping a good healthy routine is very important- if you let it all slide then it will take longer for you to get back up to normal again. I had depression at university, I stopped eating and slept whenever and it just put my body in an even worse state and prolonged the depression IMHO.

Do you have family/friends support? You might not feel at all like talking or socialising but getting out and talking to people is also important. Isolation will also make things worse

Be kind to yourself. You haven't done anything wrong, you are doing great in fact, so try not to berate yourself for anything. Tell yourself how much you deserve everything you do for yourself, because you do

There isn't any quick route to feeling happy. You are going to need time to adjust and self care. But you will get there in the end. Hang on in there. I love the saying "this too shall pass", it's very true.

Broodymomma Fri 08-Nov-13 16:33:48

I am so glad you posted this and wanted you to know you are not alone in how you are feeling. We are just a week in but I have struggled so much with the change and feeling of guilt towards and older ds. Everyone keeps telling me you must be so happy and I smile and say yes but in reality I have cried every day. Dh does not get paternity leave as not been in his job a year yet and I have felt so isolated with this new wee boy.

Remind yourself this is such a huge change and major adjustment for you all. I second what has been said above as I do feel better if we have got out and about as oppose to sitting around the house. Big hugs and remember you are not alone and if you are wrong then I am too!! Pm me anytime from one new mum to another x

Happiestinwellybobs Fri 08-Nov-13 16:50:00

I second what everyone has previously said. Although DD was a lot younger, I experienced post adoption depression and quite badly. What helped was getting out of the house everyday - the days where I didn't have a plan were horrendous.

I wish I had asked for help. I didn't feel I was bonding quickly enough with DD, but faking it helped, and eventually the bond was there for real.

This is a huge shock to your system and it is completely natural to feel a whole range of emotions.

18 months down the line, I can honestly say it will get better smile

Buster51 Fri 08-Nov-13 17:45:17

Aw thank you all so much! It has really helped to hear from you all & that I'm not alone.

I am very lucky in that when my partner returns to the forces for work I have a very close social network who are all supporting me.

I will make a point of going out & about more next week when he is at school, I normally exercise regularly but just haven't had the motivation, this is something I will start again.

Thank you all so much again! I will keep reading these posts whenever I am feeling a little low :-)


OP’s posts: |
Devora Fri 08-Nov-13 18:02:01

I found the beginning of life with my adopted daughter really, really hard. Mind, I found the beginning of life with my birth daughter equally tough. It is a HUGE adjustment, and really hard to keep giving and giving and getting so little in return.

The payback is, of course, the love. But that isn't there yet. It will come. 'Fake it till you make it' is often said here.

You know, I assume, that his rejection of you is not because he actually prefers your partner to you? He is a frightened and disrupted little boy who is really, really testing out whether he can trust you, trying out strategies for pushing you away so that you can't break his heart. This is often how it starts.

You are doing a hugely difficult thing and it can be very frightening in those early stages. It will get better! In the meantime, take lots of care of yourself, as much sleep as you can manage, see your GP if it doesn't improve quickly, ask for help when you need it, and keep posting here so we can keep an eye on you.

Buster51 Fri 08-Nov-13 20:31:23

Thank you smile in a short week he has improved so much it certainly hasn't gone unnoticed.

Yes we did feel that was possibly what he was trying to do, in addition to possibly being very scared to get close to a new mummy.

I realise it will be baby steps, slow progress is great progress, thank you again for your thoughts it has really helped me smile xx

OP’s posts: |
flippingebay Fri 08-Nov-13 20:49:13

Read my thread 'is this normal' as I'm in a similar situation. I'm really struggling adjusting to life but have had some really good advice that I keep re-reading to help.

shockers Fri 08-Nov-13 20:57:57

This might sound strange, but when we fostered and then later when we adopted, one of the ways that helped me and my tiny folk to relax was to brush each other's hair, twist it, plait it... whatever.

It doesn't require eye contact, but it is tactile and relaxing (except when you have a rough one... you have to grin and bear that!)

Lots of love and luck to you all.

Kewcumber Sat 09-Nov-13 00:21:51

Another PAD sufferer here - second the getting out every day. Park, soft play - lots of exercise and fresh air.

Don't let it go on if its not slowly improving over time, go and see your GP. Its a very hard transition, but as we say a lot on here... this too shall pass...

DS didn't look me in the eye for about the first 3 weeks.

I found cuddling him without him making eye contact - so his back to my front with my arms around him helped him relax and get used to the physical contact and we worked on the eye contact separately.

If you google games promoting attachment you might find some helpful games as well.

Buster51 Mon 11-Nov-13 09:36:01

Today is the 1st of many of his daddy working away, we had tears this morning (when it came to putting his coat & school shoes on - something that occurs quite often!) asking for daddy, he's a very upset boy this morning wanting his daddy but went into school ok in the end. Mummy of course had a few tears walking back!

It's hard not to get upset by it, does anyone else find this? Ways to toughen up are needed I think!! smile


OP’s posts: |
Midge71 Mon 24-Oct-16 22:26:33

Is it bad to say this has made me feel better 13 weeks in as a single adopter I feel like I have floored - all is going better than I could have hoped for with my beautiful feisty 6 year old but I started crying yesterday & just can't stop! I am suddenly questioning everything usually starting with hat the hell have I done! But I've reached out (which is had for me) and feel I just need t get through half term and then start running again to get some happy hormones! At this precise moment I just feel so incredibly alone! It s not helped by a massive dose of antibiotics for an abcess I am sure! My fear is she will notice and she has been through so much already in her little life.

Buster5187 Tue 25-Oct-16 09:04:15

Oh Midge, this old thread has brought up some memories for me having raised it what feels like a life time ago! I can say 3 years on it hand on heart does get better. I remember those days so vividly reading back over this thread - Wow.

Do you have any other support at all? 13 weeks is such a short time, although it won't feel it for you at the moment. Even if she does notice what I found / find works best is applying words to how you're feeling outloud, just vocalising them to her. You could say' I'm feeling sad at the moment because of my tooth' etc. At least then if she is picking up on any sadness from you she might not 'worry' about it as you've spoke about it openly (it also helps DS to open up hearing us use words to match feelings).
How is she getting on in general? Agree with you re the running, it really did help me when I finally plunged myself back into it.

Things will pick up, take care of yourself flowers

dibly Tue 25-Oct-16 09:42:01

Agree with Buster, it's so so hard, and unexpected. A short dose of antidepressants helped me, and some counselling. It does get better though so hang in there.

Midge71 Tue 25-Oct-16 15:52:08

Thanks guys - worse thing is she can see it and asked if she needs to be sent back. All i could do was reassure her mummy felt really say and she had done nothing wrong and sometimes adults just felt sad and it was normal and pass!

Midge71 Tue 25-Oct-16 15:54:33

I have amazing support from my SW, friends and partner (not part of the adoption process which makes things a little complicated!) I think again this makes things worse as I feel so self indulgent! I am just trying to go one day at a time but I know I am probably not as engaged as normal!

tldr Tue 25-Oct-16 21:54:54

If you need to see GP, see GP. Post adoption depression is real. But, I'd be really surprised if anyone didn't think 'what the hell have I done' at some point in the early weeks/months.

Hang in there. flowers

Kr1stina Tue 25-Oct-16 23:40:24

The emotional exhaustion, the infection, the antibiotics, the tiredness - it all adds up . Please be kind to yourself and don't feel self indulgent for relying on your support network .

And know that you can always come on here and moan . We promise not to say " all children do that " or " you are over reacting " . grin

DorcasthePuffin Wed 26-Oct-16 09:23:22

It's so hard, Midge. It's hard enough becoming a parent, add to that adoption, add to that being single, add to that adopting an older child (at least with a baby you don't have to worry about the verbal interaction - it's just physical needs and cuddles). What you are feeling is healthy and natural, but it WILL get better.

crispandcheesesanwichplease Wed 26-Oct-16 16:22:29

Hi Buster. Similar here. Went from no children to one adopted one.

It's a massive period of transition, adjusting to full on care of a small child, the physical demands and quite often boredom and isolation, huge changes in your routine. Coupled with the dawning realisation that your own life is now changed beyond recognition.

I've spoken to some first time birth parents who have felt the same, so it's not unique to adoption. However I think there's much more pressure on adopters to be all smiling, singing and dancing because "Hey, you got what you really, really wanted and must be over the moon with gratitude".

Many people don't understand how difficult the transition to being a parent can be, regardless of how you came to be a parent. It's bloody hard for many of us, even if it's what you really wanted and fought for.

Also, adopted children have usually had some trauma in their background which can make them much harder to cope with and bond with. Their needs can be very much higher than those of other children. Their abilities to form attachments are also quite different.

My daughter was so very difficult to care for in the early days. The defiance and challenges came by the hour. I used to get her up and care for her in the mornings, put her up for her after lunch nap and cry for an hour. Then get her up, care for her, put her to bed in the evenings and spend hours crying.

I used to think she actually hated me (my rational brain knew this wasn't possible but my emotional brain felt differently). It is now my understanding that for many adopted kids mummy is the enemy and must be proven to be the enemy because any time now she is going to hurt you/neglect you/abandon you, just like the last one. So mummy must be tested over and over and over again to make sure she stays.

My daughter has tested me in ways that have nearly broken me, many times over, but she never behaved like that with anyone else around us. I now understand how terrifying it is for a traumatised child to build a primary attachment, particularly with a mother figure.

This may explain, to some extent, why tour lo seems easier for your partner. Maybe, maybe not, just a thought.

It's a life-changing and emotionally fraught situation.

Keep the routines, keep acting like everything is calm and predictable. Talk honestly to people about how you feel but be wary of those who seem to not get or judge you. They can cause you terrible emotional harm. Sally Donovan calls it the 'Adoption Klaxon' if I recall correctly. The klaxon that goes off in your head when those around you, both family/friends and professionals, are not listening properly or trying to fully understand you. Don't waste time or energy trying to explain yourself to them.

The process of adapting to parenthood, coupled with a traumatised child is an ENORMOUS task and took me years, literally. But, it can be done and you can eventually feel like a competent and even 'elite' parent a few years down the line.

It's like eating an elephant, manage it day by day, bite by bite, and eventually the task will be completed.

Take heart Buster and take care x

gabsdot Wed 26-Oct-16 17:51:50

I had PDA after we adopted out second child.
I felt so ridiculous. I had managed to get through infertility, IVF, and 2 adoption assessments without getting depressed and then finally when it was all over and I finally had everything I wanted, BAM!!!!

It was very tough. I struggled on for about 6 months until eventually I went to the GP, started taking ADs and had some counseling.
Don't let it go on too long. Get some help. There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.

Italiangreyhound Sat 29-Oct-16 02:00:41

*Midge my advice to buster at the top of the page is three years old but I do stand by it. As you said yourself getting out running is a good idea.

I now am an adopter an dour son came to us two and a half years ago. I felt quite sat at times and wondered if it may be adoption depression. Please do talk to your GP if you need to.

As far as passing on the sadness to your dd I would totally blame the abscess, she doesn't need anything else to worry about and maybe she can be a lovely helper and make you a card to get well soon. No problem if she does not want to do this, and if drawing was something she was not good at etc I might get her some sticky craft stiff to make something with instead.

Good luck. thanks

Buster hugs! thanks

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