Adoption is beautiful in every sense of the word. It’s a selfless act, one full of nothing but love and meaningful consideration. As a woman who has recently placed her child with an adoptive family, you know this to be true. You also know that you’ve taken on a new role – that of birth mother.
While a smile warms your face every time you envision the life your child now possesses, you know you’re not faring well emotionally. Underneath that layer of happiness, you feel grief. Why do I feel depressed? Did I make a mistake?Why am I not happier for my child? These are the worries that keep you up at night.
Adoption Choices of Kansas is proud that you made the selfless decision to place your child for adoption. Now, though, it’s time to focus on you. Let us help you navigate your uncomfortable feelings post adoption. Birth mother grief isn’t uncommon.
What You’re Feeling
With the adoption process complete, you may be surprised to find yourself feeling lost. You put so much thought and love into your decision, and you know your child has a wonderful opportunity to grow up cared for and abundantly happy. But placing him or her for adoption was one of the most emotionally challenging things you’ve ever done.
The whirlwind of emotions you’re feeling are often caused by a combination of physical and emotional factors, including changes in hormone levels after childbirth. Here is a list of symptoms and emotions birth mothers often describe feeling post adoption:
Guilt.Birth mothers may experience guilt for having placed their children for adoption. Most times, this is due to society’s negative interpretation of adoption. This view prompts feelings of shame in birth mothers for “rejecting” their children, no matter how thoughtful the decision or circumstance of the adoption.
Harsh self-criticism. As a birth mother, you likely face questioning and judgement from loved ones and friends. This emotional undermining can lead to you doubting yourself and your decision to place your child for adoption. You have to remind yourself of this: you know what’s best. Accept your journey and own it.
Postpartum Depression (PPD).PPD is a complex mix of behavioral, physical, and emotional changes that birth mothers experience after giving birth. It’s a form of depression that can occur anytime within four weeks after delivery. Symptoms of PPD include hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, sleep and eating problems, and an inability to feel good or be comforted. This form of depression is often linked to hormonal changes in the birth mother’s body.
How to Cope
Learning how to deal with placing your child for adoption and the emotions that come with it takes time and patience. But coping becomes easier with situational and emotional acceptance. Here are a few coping mechanisms you can use to move towards a sense of peace:
Determine what you’re feeling.Emotions don’t always show themselves in clear ways — especially if you’re avoiding them. Try to figure out what you’re feeling. For example, feelings of sadness and loss don’t mean that you regret your decision. Just as, feeling numb or even relieved doesn’t make you a bad mother. It’s good to recognize that the emotions you’re feeling are a normal part of acceptance.
Take time. Allow yourself time to grieve and recover. There is no timetable that predicts when the grief will be resolved, and there may be occasions, even many years later, when the grief may resurface. As a future birth mother, it’s important to know that allowing yourself time to grieve and accept the loss of your child means you may be better able to move on.
Find support. Seek out friends, support groups of other birth parents, or understanding counselors in order to have a safe place to communicate your feelings. Open your mouth, speak, and let your worries, fears, and struggles tumble out. Being able to openly share feelings can be helpful in moving through the stages of grief and achieving some resolution.
Be positive in your choice. There is plenty to love about your adoption decision. There’s also plenty to feel heartache over. It’s ok to feel both. Much of adoption is about joy and loss. Birth mothers often grieve the loss of their children while celebrating the joy of knowing that their children are happy and cared for. Any time you feel like you might be getting caught up in sadness, it can be helpful to remind yourself of the positive aspects of your decision.
Birth Mother Grief
The truth is this: placing a child for adoption is emotionally demanding. It’s not only difficult to make the adoption decision and complete the adoption process, but it’s also challenging adjusting to life after placement. In fact, for many women facing an unplannedpregnancy, adoption is one of the most challenging decisions and experiences of a lifetime.
Adoption Choices of Kansas wants you to know that even though you made a decision that you felt was best for you and your child, experiencing birth mother grief post adoption is normal. Allow yourself this time, but also remind yourself that your child is provided for, loved, and cherished. Serving Expectant Parents Statewide Call Us 877-903-4488 or Text Us 316-209-2071