Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Social Work

Major Professor

William Rowe


depression, parenting, stress



It is not uncommon for new mothers to experience depression. However, depression after the arrival of a child is not limited to biological mothers. The term Post-Adoption Depression Syndrome (PADS) was created to capture the unique type of depression that may occur after adopting a child. The nature and prevalence of depression after adoption is still largely unknown since there is little published research exploring the experiences of mothers in the first year after adopting a child. The characteristics of this disorder are reportedly comparable to postpartum depression in a biological mother. A review of postpartum literature reveals risk factors unrelated to biology. The experiences of adoptive mothers were explored focusing on the psychosocial and psychological risk factors of postpartum depression and challenges specific to adoptive parenting were also considered.

Quantitative data were collected through an on-line survey. Findings revealed that 25% of adoptive mothers experienced depressive symptoms after adoption. Lack of support and increased fatigue were the most significant predictors of post-adoption depression. Other factors related to increased depression were found, such as infant temperament and marital status. Additionally, in-depth interviews with adoptive mothers were conducted that illustrate the experiences and challenges specific to adoptive parenting that may contribute to post-adoption depression. Implications for social work practice, adoption agencies and adoption professionals are discussed. Improved assessment strategies are suggested.

Included in

Social Work Commons