Post Adoption Blues
An Interview with Karen Foli, co-author of The Post-Adoption Blues : Overcoming the Unforeseen Challenges of Adoption.
Interview by Allison Martin
Could you explain what "PostAdoption Blues" means?
We look at "post adoption blues" as a general term that captures feelings of anxiety and/or mild depression that can occur after the child comes home. We see these "blues" as normal emotions that can be traced to unmet expectations or unrealistic expectations. Post-adoption depression and stress are specifically defined in our glossary in the book.
We looked to the DSM-IVTR and paralleled "blues" and "depression" after postpartum blues and depression. We did this for two reasons: first, by creating alignment with accepted mood specifiers, we hope to create acceptance of post-adoption feelings; and second, there are striking similarities between postpartum depression and post-adoption depression.
What would you say are the most common issues?
Adoption has many faces and many different paths, so identifying the most common issues is challenging. In general, the issues most often come from the expectations we hold of ourselves as parents and of the child. These expectations can lead to disappointment and feelings of isolation. Specific examples can be when an adoption parent wants to be a super-parent and then finds herself struggling with her human situations.
The child who is adopted will come with several needs that the parent may not be aware of -- even for several years. Feelings of alienation, of being different, of feeling undeserving of love can lead a child to test the adoptive parents' love.
What are some common societal issues or misconceptions that adoptive families confront?
We believe that society holds many different misconceptions of adoptive families. One is that we are less of a family because we are formed through adoption, that somehow our love is not as real.
Society can demand public answers of how our family was created. This can cause adoptive families to lose an intimacy that families created by birth never have to experience. Last, society may believe that adoptive parents are somehow "saints" to adopt children who may be perceived as "damaged" or unwanted. Often these misconceptions are not overtly articulated, but nonetheless, are very real.
Do you have some advice on coping with this?
The main goal of the POST-ADOPTION BLUES was to provide coping strategies that families could put into use. We devote a chapter on how to cope with society's influence. One strategy is to recognize that family's needs supercede any of society's needs. Protecting our children's privacy and keeping the family's intimacy intact is very important. Openly discussing adoption in the home is another way to shape the family's identity so that when we face society, we are ready.
What kind of support can parents find in the adoption community to help them with post adoption issues?
Many adoption agencies are doing much more today than in the past to recognize the need for post-adoption services. Many agencies are using our book as material for post-adoption meetings and discussions. Make no mistake, POST-ADOPTION BLUES is very pro-adoption. Openly discussing the struggles adoptive parents may encounter is a great way to heal.
We also advise in the book that families need to maintain ties with the adoption community, either through adoptive magazine subscriptions, adoption support groups, or attendance at various adoption camps. The family needs to recognize that they are now a minority and will forever by an adoptive family. We think that's a beautiful thing.
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