Like with postpartum depression, it can be hard to determine if a new adoptive parent is suffering from a simple post-adoption blues, or whether she had full blown PADS post-adoption depression. Like with postpartum depression in mothers who have given birth, PADS can become so serious that the child is at risk and mom is suicidal and requires hospitalization.
But, unlike with postpartum depression, PADS is still not socially accepted, and not a lot of information exists about the condition. In psychological terms, it is not yet recognized as a separate disorder. Newly adoptive parents are expected to be living on a pink cloud, overwhelmed with love for the child they had been waiting for so long. Those who feel overwhelmed with life instead need help, but in addition to being depressed, they may feel ashamed and unsure what they are experiencing.
Yet like the biological mothers whose postpartum depression went unrecognized only decades back adoptive parents who are depressed have nothing to be ashamed about. Most faced the stresses of infertility and perhaps fertility treatments, some had to cope with potential adoptions that were canceled at the last minute, and many had to wait for their children during a long, essentially traumatic period. International adoptive parents have unknown bureaucratic systems to navigate and immigration to deal with.
Domestic adoptive parents may have the worry that birthmom will want to parent, after all. After surviving all that, depression may just be a natural response. Post-adoption depression syndrome is serious and real. If you are looking into adopting, it is good to read up about PADS as well, and even to look round for counselors who have experience with depression following adoption. Counseling after adoption is always beneficial, to help you and your child adjust to each other and to overcome any struggles you may have. PADS is yet another reason to see a therapist.