Depression and Anxiety

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Hi, I have suffered from anxiety and depression for most of my adult life. Although am stable on medication. I mentioned it at an open evening we attended to see if it was an issue. We were told at the time we couldn't be considered as we hadn't got a room, we said we were having an extension built (two extra bedrooms). Unfortunately we were still not accepted. The difficulty remains however. We have agreed a huge outlay for an extension, still not knowing how my mental health may effect the outcome. Can anyone help? I am on Citalopram and have never been hospitalised.

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Hi Mikliemoo,

Firstly, it's great to see you being so open about your anxiety and depression, and for being brave enough to attend an open meeting, and to come on here!

Modern adoption is incredibly challenging as you may have discovered - you very likely to be parenting an abused and traumatised child. It is not the same as having a birth child. Even a baby may turn out to have FASD or other in-utero or developmental issues, that might not be noticed at birth, or even become apparent until they are at school. You also need to be strong enough to stand up for your child, often in a world where many teachers of other professionals still don't understand these issues or attachment problems and just think your child is 'naughty', when they are just unable to cope with the world in the way the rest of us do. You will find yourself pushing your own limits. This is why Social Workers ideally want potential adopters to be as physically and mentally healthy as possible.

I hope you don't mind me saying, but I think your anxiety and depression could be a barrier, depending on how severe it is, how you are managing it and how it came about. If your depression is chemical, that's one thing (and I don't know what that impact will have - hopefully someone with more experience will come along and give you the benefit of their knowledge), but if there are issues behind it and it is situational, then you may want to try and gain some insight into it. I hope that doesn't sound too flippant. It may also depend on how depressed and anxious you are or have been. I had a pretty rubbish childhood that included losses and other issues. I was constantly anxious throughout my twenties, and sometimes veered towards depression. I was on and off the self-help book track for most of my twenties and my thirties. It was only when I tried to have children in my mid thirties and failed that things went really pear shaped for me and my anxiety increased tenfold and I was definitely depressed (so in my case, it was quite a specific response to a specific situation, on top of my childhood stuff). I eventually got myself some reiki, went to meditation classes and had counselling. It was a lengthy and painful process (who knew crying could be so physically painful!), but incredibly worthwhile. I am transformed, and I have my life events well in perspective. I know things will never be the same because I feel different about everything now. Exercise has been important in all of this too - more so since we adopted.

Social workers are looking for 'resilient' adoptive parents. They like to see that you have tackled your issues, because if you adopt, you may have to help your child tackle theirs. Occasionally, adoptive parents are traumatised by their child's issues (it's called secondary trauma). Parenting any child is relentless, but more so if your child is adopted. But very worthwhile!

On the plus side, being open about any issues and the fact you are managing them or are tacking them is a real bonus. Social workers like that very much! If you have had issues in your life, you have a good understanding of what a child may have gone though. It also makes you a more empathetic parent, which is wonderful.

best of luck - I hope that wasn't too negative a reply, and that I haven't made too many assumptions.

Take care,

Haven x

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Personally my advice would be don't invest in an extension just to adopt. At the moment things are slow in the adoption world with more available adopters than there are children of the type adopters are typically looking for. Agencies are being very choosy, only taking on prospective adopters who they think they will find it easy to match and those looking for the more out-of-the-ordinary children (older than 6, groups of three or more where there are school age children, children with significant disabilities, medical needs or with significant uncertainty about their future mental health)

Re the depression - it's not a barrier to adoption but it's definitely an obstacle to overcome. You will need to show insight into your depression, what your triggers are for worsening symptoms, the fact that with medication you have been well with no problems for at least a few years.

Adopting can often be a trigger for those who have previously had no mental health needs to develop them and need to seek out support and/or medication. A significant minority of adopters on these boards had no need to think about their mental health pre-adoption because they'd had no concerns, many of those are now on antidepressants or are in therapy to help them cope with their lives post adoption.

It may be worth asking to explore this further with the agency to discuss whether your MH is the real issue. That done you can prepare yourself and look at another agency. Do be aware though that adoption is likely to test your MH for many years post adoption so be very sure it is right for you.

Good luck

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