Emma was three months old when she came home to us and the ‘worst’ was over as far as newborn babies go. By the time she joined our family she was in a routine and she settled in quickly.
Ben on the other hand, arrived in our lives at just ten days old and it was a completely different experience. He cried all the time. And if he wasn’t crying, he was screaming. He’d take one look at me, scrunch his face up and wail. All the time.
While Emma finding us was serendipitous and her adoption ordained, Ben, I was convinced, felt he had ended up with the wrong family, and was letting us and everyone else in the neighbourhood know about it.
The four months maternity leave I got were the loneliest and most soul destroying I had ever experienced. I cried. Ben cried. I didn’t eat or sleep. I couldn’t think clearly. And as I got more exhausted, I felt more guilt and as the guilt set in I slipped into a deep, dark depression.
Embarrassed that I wasn’t coping, I pretended everything was ok. I didn’t want an ‘I told you so’ from my husband and I was terrified what my friends and family would think. If Emma was a god-send, what did that make Ben?
It was my fault that our little unit had been disrupted. We were a complete and happy family and I had thrown a spanner in the works. Ben’s constant crying had me worried. So much so I called the shelter we got him from to see if he had been okay there. They said yes, exactly what I didn’t want to hear. In my mind Ben didn’t like me very much and I was starting to feel the same way about him. Then I felt guilty for feeling that.
Already a miserable old cow, living on anti-depressants, I chatted to my GP and did some research. Post Adoption Depression is real, but like Post Natal Depression, it seems no one wants to talk about it. It’s that big weepy elephant in the room, that everyone tiptoes around.
Studies show that PND in biological moms is caused by a hormonal upheaval, but it’s also possible that psychological elements are to blame, including exhaustion. For adoptive parents, there is the upheaval and the exhaustion, plus not connecting with the baby or child as they had hoped, getting little or no support from family and friends, not feeling quite like a ‘real’ parent and the disappointing attitude of society towards adoption. Thank goodness. I wasn’t alone and nor was I insane. I simply had post adoptive baby blues.
With a slight change to my prescription and confiding in a few friends helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel. And the good news was it wasn’t an oncoming train.