Post Placement Depression 

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.

steph

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About steph hagen

Nashville foster/adoptive mama, artist, believer
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3 Responses to Post Placement Depression 

  1. Amber says:

    Yes, yes, yes! We had agreed to take kids 1-7, I got a call at 2:30 last Thursday morning needing emergency placement for a 7 year old boy and 11 year old girl. Somehow between a moment of fog and blacking out from that unexpected call, I said yes. We have 2 bio daughters, ages 5 and 8. The kids have really been no trouble, other than some issues with their language that we’ve been working on correcting. The girl is also very uncomfortable around men and will not even eat if my husband is home, nor if we take them out to eat. Honestly, since day 2 I have just been trying to justify an excuse to just throw in the towel and possibly even close our home. My goal was to adopt from the system, just in my targeted age range and I think part of me is afraid this placement is going to be much longer term than I anticipated and quite frankly, I’m not ready to raise a teenage girl. I wish I had said no on that phone call but here we are. I have not bonded with either child, I am faking it for their sake I guess you could say…but, I just feel like a horrible person for even wishing that I would get the phone call saying someone has stepped up to take them. The tough part is they are good kids for the most part, and they deserve to be loved. I know in my heart that I need to give it more time, I am just struggling and I feel like a horrible person. I can definitely relate to this post regarding the depressing, dreadful feeling.

  2. Amy Eatherly says:

    Oh man. I GET this. When Eli came home I had a very, very hard time. Depression, doubt. Because of the attachment rules, I felt like I couldn’t ask ANYONE for help. I was exhausted, scared, I had no idea what I was doing, and I had ALL THESE FEELINGS. I also felt like a full time babysitter. I was like, “No one else feels like this, no one else talks about this, there is something wrong with you. This is what you wanted! Come on, Amy!” I also felt very spiritual attacked. It was a dark few months and I believed all the lies and I lived in the doubt. With Lucy, I was soooo proactive about how I was doing when she was home. If I needed help from family or friends, I was going to ask for it. If I needed someone to feed her a meal so I could nap, I was going to do that.
    We need to spread awareness about this….It’s a real thing and it happens to so many moms!

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