Can antidepressants or a history of depression prevent you from adopting?

As usual, I let our newsletter subscribers know in advance about the topic of this week’s Creating a Family show—How Mental and Physical Health Issues in Prospective Adoptive Parents are Treated in Adoption. I shouldn’t have been surprised when the questions came pouring in. While each expressed a personal angst, most were singing the same tune: Can I adopt if I’m on antidepressants now or was in the past? Clearly this was this week’s $64 Million Dollar Question.

Most people come to adoption from the grueling experience of infertility. No two ways around it, the all-consuming quest for a baby can drive you crazy. Not literally crazy, but at the very least, infertility is depressing, and many people turn to antidepressants to help them cope.

It is beyond ironic that the medication that may have saved your life or sanity can now potentially keep you from living your life’s dream of being a parent.  Talk about a cruel twist of fate. All is not lost however. The hazards of antidepressants to pre-adoptive parents have been overblown—at least for domestic adoption.

Domestic Adoption and Antidepressants

The domestic adoption guest experts on yesterday’s show were clear that antidepressant use by itself does not bar you from adopting a baby or child from the US. Adoption agencies and adoption lawyers are looking for parents that are stable and able to parent. You need not disclose your antidepressant use in your Adoptive Parent Profile (check out our resources on what to include and how to prepare), but adoption agencies and adoption attorneys will share this information with expectant women considering adoption. Neither domestic adoption expert thought that it was a big issue for most prospective birth mothers when choosing a family. Facing struggles and seeking help are often seen as signs of strength.

International Adoption and Antidepressants

The answer is murkier with international adoption since each country and each agency has its own rules. Suffice it to say that antidepressants may be an issue. Some countries flat out prohibit prospective adoptive parents who are on antidepressants, while others require extra scrutiny. The same can be said for adoption agencies.

What’s a Prospective Adoptive Parent to Do?

First of all, be honest. Your child’s birthmother deserves that. Your child’s birth country does too, even if you think they have antiquated ideas about mental health. Also, getting caught in a lie can derail your adoption. Not a good idea. Honesty is the best policy in most things in life, including (especially) adoption.

Second, discuss your depression or other mental health issue up front with any adoption agency or adoption attorney you are considering. They can advise you on whether this will likely be a problem. They can guide you to a country where it will not likely be a problem. Equally important, their attitude will speak volumes about whether they are the right agency or attorney for you.

Third, don’t take yourself off of any medications without working closely with your doctor.  If you decide to try to reduce your medication or eliminate it with the support of your doctor, read the highlights or listen/download our Creating a Family show about Coping with Depression While Pregnant. The risk to the fetus from antidepressants part is not relevant, but the suggestions from Dr. Ali Domar for how to cut back are golden.

Fourth, listen to this week’s Creating a Family show on Mental and Physical Health Issues in Pre-Adoptive Parents. I think it will be an eye-opener.


Have you had experience with trying to adopt while on antidepressants or with a mental or physical health issue? Please share your insights. 

P.S. Get notice in advance of upcoming Creating a Family show topics so you can submit questions for our experts by signing up for our newsletter at the bottom of this blog. Aww go ahead, you can always unsubscribe if you don’t like it.

What We Talked About on the Creating a Family show:

  • Will taking antidepressants prevent you from adopting a baby in the US?
  • Should prospective adoptive parents include their use of antidepressants in their Adoptive Parent Profile or Dear Birthmother Letter?
  • Do most expectant women avoid considering couples or singles who want to adopt, but are taking antidepressants medications or have a diagnosis of depression?
  • Will taking antidepressants prevent you from adopting internationally?
  • What countries prohibit parents with a diagnosis of depression from adopting?
  • Is embryo adoption/embryo donation an option for someone who is on antidepressant medications?
  • How are other mental health issues or mental illnesses in pre-adoptive parents treated by adoption agencies or adoption lawyers?
  • How are physical disabilities treated by adoption agencies or adoption attorney in US domestic adoption?
  • How are physical disabilities treated by other countries for international adoption.
  • Do foreign countries or adoption agencies make exceptions for prospective adoptive parents considering adopting a child with a special need?
  • Do adoption agencies have separate rules that set standards for mental or physical health in adoptive parents?
  • Can a paraplegic in a wheelchair adopt?
  • Can a blind or deaf person adopt?
  • Should you disclose your mental health issues to your adoption agency or adoption lawyer?
  • What mental health issues prevent someone from adopting a baby in the US or from abroad?
  • Who should not consider adopting?
Image credit: ohad (Doesn’t this picture capture beautifully the concept of sadness? Way to go, ohad!)