After every adoption I have completed, I go through a period of depression. I don’t say this to scare anyone, or to have a ‘woe is me’ moment. I say it because this feeling during this period has become so familiar. I can imagine that it isn’t familiar to everyone who adopts, which is why it’s important that I write about it. For me, for you, for your child, it is so important that we address it. In my home, this period of depression can interrupt attachment. I have to be careful of that.
I have a child in my home who I failed to attach to for a very long time. We are doing better now. She says ‘I love you, mom’ to me all the time, and I return it, and really mean it. Our relationship is pretty easy now, but it wasn’t always that way. She was in rough shape when we adopted her. I hadn’t had the pre-adoption education I should have had. Her mental health needs were more than I had ever anticipated. This shocked and wounded me.
Situational depression is real for me, and the only way to combat it is to keep telling myself “This is normal, there is nothing wrong with you.” I compare it to drowning. IF you start to drown, they say that you sink faster if you struggle. I can’t struggle. Instead, I have to relax, think it through, and realize “This too shall pass.” For me, it will. For some people, just like postpartum depression, it doesn’t. It’s okay to reach out for help.
Isa is amazing, but so are her needs. I’ve also been her mom for what seems like ten minutes. It would be odd for me to feel like “YES! I love this child like she came from me!” Because, she didn’t. Love doesn’t happen in a minute, it takes a whole lot longer than that. I would walk through fire for this child, and, I think I might have to.
I think knowing what is to come for her medically also contributes to my depression. She is going to need at least one, probably more, open heart surgeries. I think about being depressed about that and I beat myself up over it. I’m not having the surgery, so what am I whining about?
She might die.
I’ve stared that in the face with two other little warrior women. It takes its toll on my heart too, and I need to acknowledge that. If I don’t, if I struggle against those feelings, I drown faster.
I’m committed to feeling all the feelings this time, and I’m committing to being open about it, because maybe there is someone else out there struggling to stay above water.
–FullPlateMom, who will just keep swimming.