Harder Than I Ever Thought It Would Be

Out There
July 1, 2016
Checking In
October 18, 2016

Harder Than I Ever Thought It Would Be

We worked long and hard to become parents. Years of infertility filled with tests,
needles, examinations, surgeries and the loss of dignity. We moved on to
adoption and were again met with questions and the need to prove ourselves. But
finally the day came and we welcomed a wonderful 3 year old boy to our family.
We were so proud and excited to start our new life together.

I was new to my job so Adam took a few weeks of parental leave while I finished up
my probationary period. From all accounts, they had a great time each day just
hanging out and playing and setting up a pool for Corbin.  I was so excited to be a stay at home mom,which is what I had always seen myself as doing. From day one it was hard.
Harder than I ever imagined it would be. He didn’t listen to me and I was on
the go with him the entire day. I had been so excited to take him places like
swimming and the Early Years Centres and they all ended up with him screaming
and crying and my face flushed red in embarrassment. I knew I was nearing the
end of my rope when I found myself crying over socks in the department store. I
knew it wasn’t about the fact that I didn’t know what size socks my boy took.
It was much more. I tried to talk to friends but they chalked it up to being a
new mom and told me I was doing great. Great. I might have been doing great but I didn’t feel great.2002-08-11-021

Any spare moment I had I reduced to tears. I made sure my son didn’t see me and I didn’t
open up to Adam. I felt like if I admitted that I felt sad and depressed
during a time that was supposed to be joyous it would make me seem ungrateful
and an unfit mom. What I didn’t know is that adoptive parents can have post-adoption
depression. The internet wasn’t like it is today back in 2002 and I had no idea
that opening up to my doctor might have led to a conversation about possibly
needing depression medication, maybe just for a little while. Instead I
soldiered on, oblivious to the help I might have had.

Eventually I went to therapy and that helped. I was able to explore how I had been
parented and what kind of child I had been and reconcile that with the
knowledge that my son not only wasn’t me but that he wasn’t some dream child I
had created along the way in my mind. Instead he was a very troubled little boy
who would eventually have multiple diagnoses. By then I was much more prepared
to parent him and the depression surrounding his adoption had lifted. I felt relieved to know that I wasn’t feeling depressed about him but rather it was situational. I write
this hoping that other adoptive parents might see this and realize that there
is no shame in admitting you are struggling and that post-adoption depression
is a very real thing.

Tina Szymczak
Tina Szymczak
Tina Szymczak is a 40-something mom and wife with two spirited boys. She has worked in early intervention and as an advocate resource for families with a loved one with a disability. Now she also writes a blog about raising children with complex needs, trying not to lose your sense of self as you parent, and her struggles with mental health.

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