Jeremy Laurance: A treatable condition, once acknowledged

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Robert Enke's widow, Teresa, said he had feared that their adopted daughter, eight-month-old Leila who came to them last May, might be taken away if his depression became public. Could that have triggered his suicide?

Adoption is challenging. The children placed have often had difficult experiences and it calls for resilience and robustness, qualities hard to locate when in the grip of depression.

So it is possible that Leila's arrival increased Enke's own sense of inadequacy as a parent. It may also have rekindled his grief at the loss of the couple's biological daughter, Lara. A parent who has lost one child is bound to have a heightened fear of losing a second.

Would the German authorities have taken Leila away had they learnt of her adoptive father's depression? It seems unlikely. Adoption is an irrevocable legal process – once the papers are signed there is no going back.

On the other hand, any child may be taken into care if their parent is judged unfit. If Enke had genuinely kept the details of his illness from the authorities, he may have convinced himself, in the throes of his depression, that it could happen. Depression is widespread, and treatable, and should never be a bar to adoption. But it is always better acknowledged than concealed.

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