I want to start off by saying that the years leading up to Rhett were some of the roughest but these 9 months with him have made up for it. I wish I could say that every minute of it has been perfect and we’ve been living in a bubble of bliss, but that’s not the case. I am finally coming out of the fog of PAD’s (post adoption depression). I haven’t told anybody that I thought I was going through that. I didn’t dare admit it really. How could I when I’ve publicly yearned for a child for years? I honestly think being public about it might have made things even harder.
Post Adoption Depression has different symptoms for everyone but for me I felt withdrawn. I felt like only a few people were safe people to be around. Meaning I was on edge around mostly everyone except for those safe people. I felt judged by most. Judged that I wasn't really his mom, that I didn't know what I was doing, or what was best for him. All these thoughts and fears were self induced. I felt my mind start to turn negative in one of the happiest times of my life.
It’s not that I’m not extremely grateful to be a mommy. I literally thank god for him every single minute of the day. What I didn’t know would happen was the guilt I felt daily. That guilt led to depression and anxiety that I’ve never had before. I feel guilt towards my husband that I’m not the person I was before we became parents. I’m not “fun” like I used to be. We don’t stay up late, listen to music, and enjoy each others company like we used to. I feel like I’m letting him down daily and it hurts.
I feel guilt and sadness towards Rhett’s birth mom. We are still navigating what our post placement relationship will be like and it seems whatever choice we make, is not good enough for all parties involved. I feel sad for her that she misses out on Rhett. Not just the big moments he’s had but everything. She doesn’t get to see him eat his food like it’s going out of style or hear him say “dada” for the millionth time. She made the choice she did for a reason and she’s never once said she regrets it but I know her heart is hurting even if she doesn’t say it is. It’s hard being happy for the same reason someone is sad.
I sometimes feel like I fail Rhett. I feel an insane amount of pressure to be everything for him, plus some. To love him fiercely and to protect him against everything. What if I can’t do those things well enough?
I once read a comment from a person on Instagram stating that adoption was the easy path to parenthood. This boggles my mind and I wish more people knew the hard part of adoption. Maybe the only easier part of it is not actually going through labor, but it is definitely not easy. There are a lot of hard things that adoptive parents go through leading up to parenthood and there are plenty more hardships after parenthood. I honestly never knew that Post adoption depressions existed but it really does make sense. Adoptive parents lives get drastically changed just as parents by birth do and sometimes in a lot less time. The bond with the child can take longer which causes emotional turmoil for parents and right off the bat you feel like a failure. Most people think that because you didn't physically birth the child that you don't need help. Believe me when I say adoptive parents need help right after birth. We need meals prepared for us or help cleaning so we can spend those extra 30 minutes bonding. We need help just as any parent would.
Anyone who has gone through depression knows that what works for someone else will not always work for you. I am not one to run to the doctor to get on medication, but would never judge those who do. My outlet has been exercise. I immediately feel better after a work out and notice a huge decline in mood when I miss one. I have been consistently working out for about 6 weeks and the changes have been awesome. I feel more social, confident, and all around happier. It might be a quick walk with Rhett or a long HIIT workout while Rhett hangs out with daddy. I don't put pressure on myself for anything. Working out for me is now about feeling better, not looking better.
Adoption is a beautiful thing. Really it’s the best thing to ever happen to me, but adoption is also so hard. It’s turned my life into a whirlwind, that is just now slowing down. I am finally at a place where I feel like I'm not failing at something everyday. I've had to realize that perfection doesn't exist especially in motherhood. Motherhood is series of failures with a win thrown in there every now and then just to spark some confidence back in you. Motherhood is the biggest reality check I've every been given and everyday I can't believe it's my reality. I'm so thankful for the failures, wins, and everything in between!
While making the decision how to move forward with starting our family I was lead to adoption a few times before we actually started the adoption process. I kept backing out and not bringing it up to Nate because I had one huge worry... would we love this baby if it was not genetically tied to us? This worry was all in God’s timing. I had to work out the fear before moving forward. For those still in the wait, undecided on how to move forward, know this. The love of a child does not come solely on genetics. It comes from nurturing, love, and fate. I promise you that when you hold that baby in your arms you will feel love, you will have to desire to nurture him, and you will know fate brought you together.
When I held Rhett for the first time my heart was at complete peace for the first time in years. I knew without a doubt that he was mine, not genetically but spiritually. I was meant to love him. And boy do I love him. I love waking up to his cries every morning. I love watching his hands clasp his bottle that he so impatiently waited for. I love hearing him call me mama and his daddy dada. I love his dark brown eyes (that look nothing like mine) light up when he sees me. Most of all, I love how much he loves me. He loves me because I’m there. I nurture his every need and want. He loves me in all my imperfect glory. He’s loved me through learning everything about being a mom and he’s loved me through my bad days.
I know sometimes it feels like your heart will never heal. Like you’ll never know what it’s like to love so deeply it hurts, but I promise you will. Open your heart and let god (or whatever higher power you believe in) guide you to make the best decision. You’re worthy of love, you have a nurturing soul, and fate will find its way to you.
Hi my name is Whitney and I'm a mom to 2 adorable boys. Here you'll find our story of infertility, adoption, grief, and hope. I'm an open book so you'll never know what I'll post next!