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New Adoptive Parents at Risk for Depression

Researchers at Purdue University say that just as new moms get postpartum depression, newly adoptive parents are at risk of postadoption depression – a condition caused largely by a parenting reality that doesn’t meet expectations.

Karen J. Foli, assistant professor of nursing at Purdue University, ran a research study that looked into the causes of a condition called postadoption depression.

She interviewed newly adoptive parents as well as adoption experts and found some common themes amongst those new parents that had experienced a period of depression in the initial period post adoption.

She says that this depression seems most commonly caused by a parenting experience that doesn’t live up to what may have been unrealistic expectations. These expectations refer to the bonding and parenting experience and as well to expectations about how close relations, friends, and larger society will act after the adoption takes place.

Foli says that bonding can be a lot more challenging than newly adoptive parents had realized, and that many new adoptive parents are surprised, and disappointed, when they do not seem to get the same level of support that new birth parents seem to get.

Foli explained, saying, "Many adoptive parents spend their time during the adoption process demonstrating they are not only going to be fit parents, but super parents, and then they struggle with trying to be the world's best parent when the child is placed in the home. Adoptive parents also may experience feelings about their legitimacy as a parent, or even surprise if they don't readily bond with the infant or child."

The full research findings can be read in the Western Journal of Nursing Research.

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