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 pregnant woman who has decided to place her child with an adoptive family, you know this to be true. You also know you’ll soon take on a new role – that of birth mother.
A smile warms your face every time you envision the life your child will soon possess. You’ve read detailed accounts of the adoption process, and you’re more than ready for the strenuous paperwork ahead of you. As prepared as you feel, though, you can’t help but worry how you’ll fare emotionally. What is it really like to go through this process as a prospective birth mother? Is it hard to place a baby up for adoption? These are the questions that plague your mind day and night.
Adoption Choices of Colorado is happy you’ve decided to place your child for adoption! There are several individuals eager to grow their families and give your child the life he or she deserves. But you’re absolutely right – it’s important to prepare yourself for uncomfortable feelings post adoption. We’re here to help!
WHAT TO EXPECT POST ADOPTION
With the adoption process complete, birth mothers are often surprised to find themselves feeling lost. They put so much thought and love into their decision, and they know their child has a wonderful opportunity to grow up cared for and abundantly happy. But placing a child for adoption is one of the most emotionally challenging things a mother can do.
Despite the comfort birth moms find in knowing they’ve made the right choice for themselves and their child in a difficult situation, it’s very common to experience a whirlwind of emotions. These 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. Even if you feel certain that adoption is the right thing to do, it remains a difficult and emotional process, one that may affect you for many years down the road.
Harsh self-criticism. As a future birth mother, you’ll 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.
After leaving the hospital, you will experience highs and lows as you recover from giving birth and placing your child with his or her adoptive family. But knowing what to expect can better prepare you.
COPING SKILLS POST ADOPTION
More often than not, birth mothers are asked why they “gave up” their children for adoption. While this phrase is repeatedly used, it is far from the truth. In reality, birth mothers sacrifice for their children, putting the needs of their children above their own. Choosing adoption is a strong and selfless choice.
But society and self-criticism can skew birth mothers’ opinions of themselves. Learning how to deal with placing a 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 birth mothers 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. Adoption Choices of Colorado has partnered with Lifetime Healing, LLC to provide Post Placement Support Groups for Birth Mothers. Whether you placed 3 weeks ago, 13 months ago, or 25 years ago — come to one of our monthly support group in Golden on the first Thursday of each month, and in Colorado Springs the second Tuesday of each month.
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 try to remind yourself of the positive aspects of your decision.
Even though you have made a decision that you feel is best for you and your child, expect to grieve post adoption. Allow yourself this time, but also remind yourself that your child will be provided for, loved, cherished and given opportunities that you weren’t able to offer.
YOU’RE A COURAGEOUS MOM
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 unplanned pregnancy, adoption is one of the most challenging decisions and experiences of a lifetime.
Adoption Choices of Colorado knows you haven’t made the decision to place your child for adoption lightly. After all, you’re a mother, and protecting your child is in your DNA. But it’s important that you’re prepared to handle your emotions with care post adoption, and we want to help you feel one hundred percent confident in your decision!
ADOPTION CHOICES OF COLORADO
For more information on adoption please contact Adoption Choices of Colorado. We can reached via our website or phone 303-670-4401.
SUPPORT ADOPTION CHOICES
Adoption Choices, Inc. is partnering with Crowdrise, a fundraising website for nonprofits, to help our adoptive parents and birth parents with much needed financial assistance. We understand that expenses keep clients from fulfilling their dreams. Both with birth parents making a plan for adoption, and with adoptive parents growing their family. It is our mission to provide financial assistance through grants and scholarships, awarded annually in November, in honor of National Adoption Month. Funds assist adoptive parents with matching and placements, adoption finalization and helping birth mothers improve their lives through higher education — and much more.
However, we can’t do it alone. Please read up on our programs and donate money where you are able. Your donation will make a huge impact.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Patience Bramlett, a University of Southern Mississippi news editorial graduate, is a seasoned and award-winning freelance writer. She is also a passionate reader, whose only wish is to live life without fear of the unknown. Her motivation and inspiration to live her best life stems from the words of John Lennon:
“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy.’ They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”
This year, she’s joining Adoption Choices Inc. as an Editorial Intern. Fueled by her love of family, she hopes to educate those looking to grow their families through adoption.
When Patience is not exploring Colorado with her husband, she’s drinking coffee, forever figuring out how to tame her hair, growing her library, and trying to break into the publishing career.
“Effects of Adoption on Birth Mother.” Adoption Network, Adoption Network Law Center, adoptionnetwork.com/emotional-and-psychological-effects-of-adoption-on-birth-mother.
“Giving a Baby Up for Adoption Is Not Giving Up.” Adoption Network, Adoption Network Law Center, adoptionnetwork.com/giving-a-baby-up-for-adoption-is-not-giving-up.
Moore, Lane. “What It’s Really Like to Place Your Baby for Adoption.” Cosmopolitan, 1 Feb. 2016, www.cosmopolitan.com/sex-love/news/a52816/adoption-what-its-really-like/.