Sharing a small part of my foster story with a friend recently, I was reminded of my bout with post-placement depression. Several conversations with foster and adoptive mamas and a quick google search showed me I wasn’t alone in the struggle. Like postpartum, depression after the arrival of a new little one can happen to anyone, come out of nowhere, and feel utterly alienating.
When one of my boys came to us, my depression was a fog that I couldn’t wade through to figure out my thoughts and feelings. I couldn’t understand what was truth, what was the pure exhaustion that comes from the whirlwind of a new child in the home, and what was, well, anything else. I was scared and overwhelmed and I felt so incredibly alone.
Asking for help was a huge step toward healing for me. I began counseling, talked vulnerably with several friends, and prayed and read my Bible like my life depended on it. My life DID depend on it. In our Dropping Anchors crew alone, about half of us discussed that we have felt the weight of depression following a new placement.
I asked some friends to share their experience with post-placement depression because I think the solidarity is important, and knowing you’re not alone to carry the burden is huge. One friend said of her experience with post-placement depression:
“Our first placement was my first encounter with ‘post placement depression’. A big part of this was a very bad experience with a difficult case and our own naive thinking.”
“I had never heard of it before, and a few weeks in to this new experience I was scouring the internet for any sign of familiarity with other fostering families. I found out that it might not just be the stress, or the turmoil, or newness, or sense of isolation that I was feeling- but perhaps a culmination of those things that added up to PPD.”
“For me, knowing that I wasn’t alone and that I wasn’t imagining this fog that surrounded me was a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. Yes, there were dark days- I still get a bit panicky thinking about that time. But for us, it was a season that we were able to get past.”
“I didn’t handle it with grace, but we persevered and we learned to do better. We know how to connect with others who are experiencing or have experienced. We know how others are supposed to treat us, and how we should treat others in this life of foster care.”
So if you’re reading this today and thinking that any of this hits home, suspect that you may be struggling with post placement depression, or realize that you have experienced this in the past, please know you are not alone! Feel free to comment below if you’d like prayer or solidarity-support. This foster road we walk can be really difficult, friend, and sometimes reaching out for help is the best thing we can do.