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Durham University

Department of Sociology

Completed Projects

An explorationof Post Adoption Depression Syndrome (PADS). What is it? What are its causes? And what are adopters' experiences?

A research project of the Department of Sociology, part of the Policy, Professions and Communities research group.


Anecdotal awareness of post-adoption depression is developing and a minority of adoptive mothers have reported suffering from depression following adoption. However, research into the phenomenon remains in its infancy and theory relating to PADS is currently under-developed. Raising awareness of this issue will be significant for adoption policy and practice, especially for post adoption support services.


This is a small-scale study focused on the experiences of practitioners and service users from one local adoption agency. The project has the following three aims:

  • to raise awareness of PADS amongst professionals in the adoption field and amongst adopters themselves;
  • to investigate the experiences of a number of adopters for whom PADS has been an issue; and
  • To explore factors which both contribute to the development of PADS and also reduce its impact on individuals and their families.

A series of qualitative interviews with adoptive mothers will be undertaken to explore their experiences of the adoption process and to test their experiences against the limited existing literature on this subject. Findings from the exploratory study will shape a number of emerging research questions regarding PADS and will form the basis of a larger grant application on this topic. Our goal is to raise awareness of this issue and to develop a screening tool that can be used within the adoption field to highlight the presence of PADS in a similar way that new birth mothers are screened for Post Natal Depression.


From the Department of Sociology