The purpose of this blog is to shine a light on the mental health needs of adoptive parents.
I adopted my daughter in 2010 and, soon after, noticed a significant change in my mental health. I became much more anxious, I slept poorly and I spent a lot of time mindless staring into space feeling lethargic and lacking motivation. I recall saying to my husband that I ‘didn’t feel like myself’.
I spent time talking to my friends who had children and it was apparent that my parenting experience was markedly different to theirs. I had desperately wanted to be a parent; but as the months passed I slowly started to understand that how I imagined my family experience to be, and how it was in reality, were very different.
I started reading about the impact of adverse childhood experiences, developmental trauma and attachment theory. I felt angry that I did not have this information and a true understanding of these issues before adoption. It would not have changed my plan to adopt, but it may have changed how I felt and how I managed challenging behavioural situations.
In my life before adoption I held a senior HR role for a global technology company. For many reasons, I was never able to return to this work. In 2015 I re-trained as a counsellor / psychotherapist as I was keen to help others as I had been helped by many years of therapeutic intervention. I qualified with an MSc (Distinction) in Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy and I now offer counselling services via my private practice (https://completecounsellingservice.co.uk) and a specialist domestic violence service. My counselling work informs my theoretical and clinical knowledge of mental health conditions.
I love my daughter and I would never change the choices I made. I do wish, however, that I had started this journey from an empowered place, understanding not just my daughter a little better, but also myself.