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Nuts & Bolts

January 10, 2013

After adopting a baby, depression can hit

(Continued)

Washington, D.C. resident Jenny Nordstrom, who had struggled with infertility before adopting daughter Sienna, now 5, remembers being stunned by how trying the early days with a baby could be, in unexpected ways. For example, she said, "My daughter's schedule was so different from those of other kids, so there we'd be at the park when no one else was. I am a really social person, and I felt so isolated." Yet after waiting so long to be chosen by a birth mom and then traveling out of state to be present at the delivery, "I remember thinking 'How can I be anything but overjoyed?' " says Jenny, 44. After two months, she sought treatment for depression but resisted trying antidepressants for another year. Eventually she did and began feeling like her old self.

Kim Severn Denny, of Auburn, Wash., had postpartum depression after giving birth to her son Quinn, now 8, yet she says she was unprepared when similar symptoms hit her after adopting her daughter Lauren nearly five years later. "I was in denial about my depression after adopting Lauren, because I thought 'I adopted her, I didn't deliver her,' " she says. A mental health counselor, a friend from church and her general practitioner all helped Severn Denny recover through a combination of counseling, dietary changes and keeping a journal of her emotions.

In my own case, anxiety about whether I was a "good enough" mother and about whether I'd be able to help our son navigate life in a world that will ascribe traits to him simply because he is Asian, coupled with worry about his nonstop sicknesses and the attendant deprivation, all set the stage for my depression. But it was only when I stumbled upon Foli's book one day at a bookstore that I began to understand why I was despairing.

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