Please don’t take my sunshine away

“From the first day I received foster care placement of my son, then three months old, I sang him ‘You are My Sunshine’ constantly. But I always skipped over the ‘Please don’t take my sunshine sunshineaway’ part. I’d fallen in love with him the moment our eyes met, and the thought of letting him go was devastating. But it wasn’t about me. And for his sake, I wished for a happy healthy reunification. But it just wasn’t meant to be. A couple of years passed and I was asked if I’d be willing to adopt. A couple more years passed, and we had an adoption date. I remember every detail of that day. He wore little cuffed corduroys, an oxford shirt, and suede wingtips. I remember family and friends with balloons and cameras at the ready. I remember the judge letting him bang the gavel to finalize his own adoption.

“I remember walking out of Children’s Court on what should have been the happiest day of my life feeling the most unexpected profound sadness.

“How could everyone around us be celebrating? Didn’t they understand the depth of his loss? He no longer “legally” had siblings. His ties to his birth family have been severed. What must they be feeling today? And who could possibly understand the grief I’m feeling?”

Post Adoption Depression. Surely such a thing can’t exist for new adoptive parents? The sadnessfinalization of an adoption is the happy ending to what has often been a lengthy, nerve-wracking, emotional roller coaster ride. What possible reason could there be to be depressed when it finally ends?

There are a number of reasons that new parents might experience post-adoption depression, including:

  • Adoption may highlight unresolved fertility issues
  • You may not feel an immediate bond with your child, as you expected
  • The reality of parenting may not match expectations as you’d imagined them
  • You’ve experienced a major life change that requires an adjustment period
  • You may have a relationship with the birth family and cannot help but feel for their loss, even if they have voluntarily relinquished parental rights

Many new adoptive parents might feel reluctant to reach out for help, because most have spent a great deal of time and energy convincing their adoption worker what a great home they can provide for a child. A big step in coping with post-adoption depression is knowing you are not alone and seeking out help. Parenting is hard, for ANY parent. It rarely comes as “naturally” as we imagine it would, for both mothers and fathers.

Some Suggestions for How to Feel Better

  • Connect with a local adoption support group
  • Reach out to a therapist who specializes in adoption issues
  • Ask your case worker for information regarding post-adoption resources
  • Check out online adoption forums, groups, and chat boards
  • Join a weekly play group with other adoptive families

Please know that you don’t have to go through your journey along. The Coalition for Children, Youth & Families is here to help and support you and your whole family. For more information on post-adoption and other resources, please contact us.

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