The United States Preventive Services Task Force issued a recommendation in late January that women be screened for depression during and after pregnancy. Karen J. Foli, MSN, Ph.D., R.N., of Purdue University, believes the recommendation should include adoptive parents.
“In addition to birth mothers, adoptive mothers and fathers should also be screened for depressive symptoms before and after placement of a child,” says the co-author of The Post-Adoption Blues, who was one of the first to bring widespread attention to post-adoption depression. While 10 to 15 percent of biological mothers may experience postpartum depression, the rates in adoptive parents may be even higher.
“We are trying to understand why,” Foli says. “What we’ve found so far is that adoptive parents hold high expectations of themselves as parents, their children, their friends and family, and society that often are unmet or unrealistic.” And yet, because they “frame themselves as ‘superparents’” during the home study, they may be less likely to disclose concerns about their mental health. Left untreated, depression and other mood disorders can impact not just the parent’s health, but her ability to care for her new child.