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Formerly ill mother wants daughter back after adoption

09/11/2013 08:59 EDT | Updated 11/11/2013 05:12 EST
Disclaimer: we have changed the name of the mother in this story to Marie because of confidentiality rules around adoption.

A Montreal mother who became depressed during her pregnancy and gave her daughter up for adoption has been fighting to regain custody.

Marie began feeling depressed shortly after she became pregnant. When she was seven months pregnant she tried to commit suicide. She was hospitalized and carried her baby to term within the walls of the hospital.

Three days after giving birth she decided to give her baby up for adoption.

"I wasn't seeing me in the future. I didn't say to myself 'in six months you're going to be better.' There was no better coming for me," she says.

But about a year later she did feel better, and she decided to fight to get her daughter back. So far, she hasn't been successful.

Marie says in her depressed state she was unable to make the decision to give her daughter up for adoption but the courts have ruled that she was able to make the decision based on opinion from the medical team treating her at the time.

The director of youth protection for Batshaw Youth and Family Services, Madeleine Bérard, says after a 30-day grace period, it's difficult to go back on the decision to give your child up for adoption.

"There's no clear answer. Do we talk about the biological connection of a child to their parent or do we talk about the emotional connection to the caregivers, who have taken care of them all of their lives," says Bérard.

Depression during pregnancy

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, depression affects about 10 per cent of Canadian women.

A psychiatrist and researcher with the l'Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal, Dr. Valerie Tourjman, says that figure is on par with the rate of depression in Canadian women in general. But she says many people are surprised by that.

"We always had the idea that pregnancy protected women. That it was this period where people were happy. We have to realize that pregnancy is a very demanding condition, it isn't this idyllic state where all problems disappear," says Dr. Tourjman.

Tourjman says that although Marie's case is relatively rare, depression during pregnancy is something that affects many women.

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