How do I move on after placing my baby for adoption? Will I ever feel happy about my decision? How do I cope with this decision? These are the types of questions many birth mothers face post-adoption. Deciding to place your child for adoption, is no easy decision. Many birth mothers believe that they are doing what is best for both their child and themselves, but it does not make the decision any less challenging. Even after making this decision, birth mothers may have many emotional responses including anger, confusion, sadness, guilt, and anxiety. Many mothers wonder if they will ever be happy again. While the process may not be easy, there is a way for birth mothers to cope with their emotions after their decision, and a way for them to find happiness after the adoption is finalized.
Even after the adoption, it is still not over for the birth mother. Many birth mothers suffer from some long-term issues. A birth mother will suffer many emotions after the adoption is finalized. As cliché as it may all sound, these emotions are all part of the healing process. You are not alone. Choosing to navigate these emotions is the most successful way to begin to cope with the decision and find happiness. Understanding your true feelings and being able to communicate them to others is the first step to overcoming grief.
With anything, these emotions will come and go throughout life. Even years after, some of these feelings will reoccur. That is normal. In general, it is important to understand the cycle. A birth mother will typically initially experience grief. These feelings of sadness will likely be the most lasting and reoccurring. At points like anniversaries, big life events for your child, or certain memories, these feeling may be extremely powerful. At other points, it may be less pronounced. It is important to address this grief and not keep it bottled up. Otherwise, it could lead to long-term issues.
Emotions like anger and regret typically appear early in the cycle as well. Birth mothers will often feel angry with themselves, angry with the adoptive parents, and angry with others. They may be angry that they made the decision to place the child for adoption and angry that their child was taken from them. This is part of the process, but it is important to find healthy ways to cope with the anger you may feel. A birth mother may regret making this decision. This is also normal, but it is important to not dwell on this emotion. Be confident in your abilities and the decision you made. At the time, you did what you believed was best and that is what a birth mother must always remember.
After processing these feelings, a birth mother can move towards acceptance and later happiness. At the acceptance stage, a birth mother is able to make peace with her decision knowing that while nothing is perfect, she did the best that she could. These feeling of peace allows the mother to gradually begin to move on. Reaching this step is a cycle. Even after a birth mother has come to terms with her decision, sometimes feelings of regret and guilt still occur. When this happens, it is important to remind yourself that this is okay. Even the acceptance stage is a cycle, some days are better than others.
However, once a birth mother can accept her decision, she is able to find happiness. A birth mother can find joy in her relationship with the child and adoptive parents, she can find joy in her decision, and she can find happiness in other relationships and events outside of the adoption.
While many birth mothers face many struggles before, during, and after the adoption it is important to know that you will move on and you will find happiness again. While rediscovering happiness is a process, it will happen once you recognize and understand the different emotions you may be feeling. While this is not an easy process, it is important to know you are not alone. There are many resources including online communities, counselors, adoption professionals, and family and friends that are here to support you through this decision.
Julianna McKenna is a college student at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana double majoring in English Writing and Psychology. She is passionate about adoption and foster care and is considering a career in adoption law or counseling. In January 2019, Julianna became an intern for Adoption Choices of Kansas, Inc. She is incredibly dedicated to promoting children’s rights and is excited to research and advocate for children.
Long-term issues or birthmothers after adoption. (2019). Retrieved June 25, 2019, from https://www.mentalhelp.net/adoption/long-term-issues-for-birthmothers/.
What birth parents should know after placement. (2019). Retrieved June 25, 2019, from https://adoption.org/10-things-birth-parent-know-adoption-placement.