By An Adopt4Life Member
In November 2009, my husband and I welcomed full siblings, a 2 1/2 year old girl with special needs and a 7 month old boy into our home.
From the moment we met our daughter in foster care it became clear that she had attachment issues with me. Her negative reaction towards me was so strong that her foster mother actually suggested that I leave one of our visits early. Things only worsened at home after placement and my daughter could barely stand to be in the same room as me. Nothing can prepare you for how that feels, no matter how much you read about attachment issues. I then turned to my 7 month old son for comfort, he needed me and showed me the love and connection that was missing between my daughter and me. However, I longed to have the mother-daughter relationship I always dreamed of and I suddenly found myself crying all of the time, withdrawing from friends and family, not sleeping and wishing I could just run away.
None of our friends had children yet, let alone adopted children or children with attachment issues or special needs. I had no one to turn to. When I did allow myself an opportunity to vent to family I was met with statements like “but you chose to adopt” or “you chose to take on someone else’s problems”. Our CAS adoption worker would come over for probation visits and I would put on the biggest smile and say “everything is great!” I posted amazing family shots on Facebook and received countless “likes”. I felt like I was living a horrible lie.
After 14 months with no improvement I realized I needed help. I finally reached out to our CAS adoption worker and explained what had been going on. He immediately referred me to a lovely CAS post adoption support worker who had us join her post adoption support group. Although I was initially quite nervous to share my experience with a room full of strangers I realized that I was in a safe and judgement free place. Suddenly I found myself letting everything out and found out I was not alone. I was greeted with support and helpful resources. That post adoption support group became my lifeline.
I learned so much and found myself in a much healthier and happier place when we welcomed our children’s 10 month old half-brother in August 2012.
Many years have passed and I have since spoken on several “How to Adopt” and “PRIDE” panels and often find myself talking to other perspective adoptive parents about PADS. Not only do I try to normalize PADS but also emphasize the need for them to educate themselves about PADS symptoms and available support for PADS before adoption placement.
I am far from an expert and there are many things I wish I could have done differently in those early days post adoption placement. One thing I wish to emphasize is to not wait to seek help. You can seek help from a medical professional, mental health professional, your adoption community family or friends. Even though I can honestly say it was the most isolating time in my life, I know now that I am not alone – and neither are you.