PAD; post adoption depression and the struggle

I have been silent on this old blog. Truth be told, I have been silent in general. This silence on my part is not like me. Although an introvert, I regularly enjoy the company of friends and family. These days though, I just hunker down. I hunker down because life is difficult and it’s so much easier to remain a hermit than try to explain everything.

It’s not bad, it’s just overwhelming. Like waking up feeling like I can’t breathe. Or going to sleep with my blood boiling. Anger and rage and anxiety and just feeling…off. I have not confided in any of my real life friends about this but the truth is that I am suffering from post adoption depression. It hits much like postpartum depression but it’s just so much lesser known. So much so that it took me finding an online adoption forum to figure out what it was. And, you know what, I’m not alone. But, it sure did feel like I was.

Now, before I get really going, I would like to clarify and make this crystal clear that this isn’t about love. I love my family. I cherish them. I enjoy their presence. I love them. This is about a true internal struggle, something that no amount of love can overcome. A night of good sleep or a date night will do nothing for this. Much like postpartum depression, it’s not something that will be “cured” by drinking some magical water.

I write about this because in my initial search, I couldn’t find anything about it. Not a mere blog post or mention, nothing. And that, my friends, is isolating. I thought I was alone in my struggles. I just wanted to be by myself. To curl up and watch gilmore girls for hours on end. I thought these were merely normal struggles associated with adoption. But, then, at the perfect moment I discovered that I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t crazy. I wasn’t a bad parent. What I have is real. It is really a “thing”. An actual diagnosis. Something that validated everything that I knew in my heart. And that is freeing.

So, I know that one day, I will be back to my normal self. Through time, medication, dedication and lots of love, I will return. But, this road isn’t easy. I am worn and weary. I am sad because this is hard. I have never, ever struggled with depression and that is why I was so blindsided by all of this. Just completely and utterly in shock that this could actually happen to me. But it did.

And maybe it will happen to you. Maybe to a friend. The road to adoption is stressful, long and incredibly isolating. Few experience what you experience. Few know the heartache of looking in your childs eyes and wondering who gave them those perfectly brown eyes. Few know the truly hard, rigorous work that it takes to bring a child from a hard place into your family. Few know the number of sleepless nights not because your baby is hungry or sick but because they are traumatized, grieving and sad. Few experience the heartache of leaving part of your heart in their birth country, a piece of your soul forever living somewhere else. That empty feeling of knowing you have a connection to the other side of the world but not knowing who it is with. Few know what it feels like to have a child so terrified that they literally follow you all day long, room to room, every second of the day their little eyes tracking your every movement.

And, all these things are so incredibly amazing but hard. With that hardness comes real struggles. The struggle to know that every tiny success should be joyfully celebrated but knowing that there is still a whole mountain to climb.

And, I say this not to discourage adoption. I say this not to scare you. I say this to normalize post adoption depression. To let you know that you aren’t alone. That there is a community out there, people who know exactly how you feel. People who feel your pain and sorrow, your sadness and anxiety. You aren’t crazy and you sure aren’t alone. To know that these feelings won’t just disappear at the wave of a magic wand because, trust me, I tried that. To know that it is okay to seek help and it’s okay to admit that you aren’t okay.

So, I write this in the hopes that you will share. Share with friends and family. Share with people affected by adoption. Just share.

Perhaps you are suffering from post adoption depression but you just didn’t know it. Maybe you know someone on the long road to adoption and you can reach out to them. Maybe you have a friend who has been home for a while but you haven’t seen them.  You could drop some coffee off at their door, or send them a note to let them know that you are thinking about them.

Because, my friends, we aren’t alone. And it is that community that we need. People who understand the struggle. People who see that this is more than just the normal post adoption issues.

So, today, if you are struggling, I want to reach out my hand to you. I want to offer you a warm embrace. I want to validate your feelings and let you know that you aren’t headed for the looney bin. I want to walk alongside you. To travel this path together. I encourage you to seek help. To admit that you can’t do it alone. But, most of all, I want you to know that that is okay. Then I will wrap my arms around you and we can cry together. Feel together. And together we will hop back on this crazy ride and face it head on.

October 23, 2014 - 5:39 pm Amy K - Thank you for sharing this. I know it must have been hard to write. I keep hearing that PAD is real, but have yet to hear anyone say they had it. Puppies and rainbows, you know? Thank you for sharing the not-so-shiny parts. You aren't scaring anyone off who didn't truly have a burden for adoption. You're helping make post-adoption and its unknowns a little less scary for those of us on the journey. Big hugs.

October 23, 2014 - 11:27 pm Kelly - You talk a lot about your warrior son. You're a warrior momma, too. The two of you will see each other through, along with all of your friends and loved ones surrounding you. xoxo

November 21, 2014 - 9:06 pm Shannon - I have struggled a lot with depression over the years (although not for the same reasons of course) and I too found it so reassuring and encouraging to discover it is a "thing" .... not just me messing up somehow .... that it is something which time and love and meds and movement and rest and faith and more love can ease and transform into a new way to empathize with others, be supported, and support in turn. Sending you love and prayers - oh, and your writing and photography is so beautiful! LOVE seeing their 4 sweet faces here and keeping up with their growing-up adventures and admiring the brave momma and daddy who love them so much.

December 13, 2014 - 8:20 pm Libby - Hugs, Erin. I'm sorry things have been so hard, but I'm proud of you for being so courageous and continuing to share your story with everyone, even when it's not pretty and wrapped with a nice little bow. You are brave and strong and setting an amazing example for your four beautiful children. Praying for you, Friend!!

December 20, 2014 - 7:14 pm ourcrashcourse - Such kind words Libby. Thank you SO much!!!

February 28, 2015 - 2:30 am Lynn - Hello! I saw adoption listed in your profile on Instagram, and I came to your blog to read more of your story. Your photography is gorgeous, but even more than that thank you for sharing your heart and being so completely honest. My husband and I are adopting our daughter from Thailand (we received her referral 20 months ago). She turns 5 tomorrow and after four years of trying to adopt her I can honestly say adoption is so many things and almost always hard right now. Thank you sweet friend for this. Hugs to you!!!

April 1, 2015 - 9:51 pm ourcrashcourse - Hi Lynn!! I'm so sorry that I just saw this, I have been really bad about blogging lately! Thank you so much for your kind words, I can't imagine the process that you are in! I would love to chat more with you! Email me at :)

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *