Post-partum depression occurs in nearly 15% percent of all new mothers and over 10% of new fathers. This psychological problem can affect not only the parents, but the children and the critical bond between the infant and the parent. “Less is known about parental post-adoption depression (PAD) that may occur in the parents of the 1,782,000 children in the United States who are adopted,” said Karen J. Foli of the Purdue University School of Nursing and lead author of a new study looking at the prevalence of PAD. “In the research reported thus far, the rate of post-adoption depression has a wide range, from 8%, 15.4% to 32%, with parents surveyed in varying contexts including inter-country and domestic.”
Post-partum paternal depression has been shown to result in behavioral and emotional challenges for children, especially boys. The pressure of adopting and the ensuing expectations that the parents put on the child and themselves increase the risk for post-adoption depression. In order to decrease the risk of psychological problems in adoptive children, Foli led a study to explore the symptoms related to PAD. She chose clinicians and professionals from adoption agencies to provide her with observations of symptoms exhibited by adoptive fathers because she believed their experience with the adoption process gave them insight into the normal range of emotions experienced during the often arduous journey. “Further, professionals play critical roles in the adoption process and are able to observe processes that may not be noted or disclosed by parents,” said Foli. “Shame, fear, and guilt are predominant barriers to parents’ disclosure of depressive symptoms.”
Foli reviewed surveys from the adoption agencies and discovered that there were five common denominators that led to PAD: “life stress; lingering grief issues over infertility or loss of birth child; maternal/paternal delayed or lack of bonding; depression during the adoption process; and difficult infant/child temperament.” She also found that most respondents validated the presence of PAD and noticed that men dealt with their depression with frustration and hostility rather than low mood and isolation. Foli said, “Professionals should consider gender differences in depressive symptoms when assessing and treating adoptive fathers.”
Foli, Karen J., and Gregory C. Gibson. “Sad Adoptive Dads: Paternal Depression in the Post-Adoption Period.” International Journal of Men’s Health 10.2 (2011): 153-62. Print.
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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