The adoptive parents you handpicked for your child are beaming with happiness. You’ve just given them the gift of parenthood, a miracle they’ve striven towards for as long as they can remember. They keep looking at you with gratefulness in their eyes, stealing glances at your face, at the body that just birthed a human life. It’s not that you’re unhappy for them. You’d give anything to voice the positives you feel deep down. But your tongue feels heavy, your throat tight with emotion.
My child is mine no more. The second this thought creeps into your mind, you know your emotional roller coaster is far from being over. You thought giving birth would be the worst of it. In contrast, what’s coming next is competing for first place. Adjusting to life post adoption was always going to be difficult. You knew that. Nevertheless, there’s no way you could have prepared for this grief, this heartfelt pain.
As a birth mother, you remain the most underserved member of the adoption community, with little access to meaningful services post placement. It is not uncommon to feel that, once you leave the hospital, you are left to fend for yourself.
Adoption Choices of Colorado is breaking this barrier! We recognize that placing a child for adoption is one of the most significant, painful, and traumatic life events you can experience. This understanding led us to developing comprehensive, post-placement supports and resources. On top of help from family, we know that you need a place you’re able to feel free to express your deepest loneliness and darkest thoughts. This place of healing can come in the form of support groups and counseling.
Do you have the support of someone who understands what you’re going through? Are you feeling judged by others for placing your child for adoption? Navigating post placement can be difficult. But connecting with others who have walked the same journey as you can be an incredible place to start healing. Birth mother support groups provide a safe place to meet other women who have placed a child for adoption and feel similar to you. Of course, no two birth mothers are alike. All come from different backgrounds, different life experiences, and often place their children for different reasons. Yet there is a common thread – the love for their children and the loss and pain that comes with placing them.
Adoption Choices of Colorado has partnered with Lifetime Healing, a groundbreaking support group. The president, Ashley Mitchell, founded the organization in August 2017 after seeing the great need for birth mother support. Here, you’ll have a space to share your story, hear the stories of other women who made the same decision as you, and know that you’re not alone. While deep emotions are often shared, it is also a place where laughter, community, and spirit lives strong! Most women meet and make friends, and leave with a sense of support and community they may not have had before.
Lifetime Healing’s structure is very unique. Mitchell wrote the nation’s first ever curriculum on post placement care. These trainings and materials present a block of time where women can share their personal journeys and are often encouraged to work through their struggles. It’s a safe space that promotes healing.
Post Placement Counseling
For some birth mothers, support groups will be enough to help them navigate post placement. If that’s not you, don’t be ashamed! Often, when experiencing distressing emotions or situations it is incredibly difficult to find a clear path forward. Friends and family are needed support but for one reason or another are often limited in their ability to help. The counseling relationship is unique in many ways and structured specifically to assist you in creating healthy and positive changes.
You may be asking, “What about my adoption professional?” While the adoption counselor you worked with throughout your pregnancy is still available to you post placement for support and periodic check-ins, he or she is not the same as a post-placement counselor. Counselors are licensed professionals trained in assisting people as they seek to create positive changes in their lives. They are able to help you start the journey of healing through the grief and loss you are experiencing.
There are several misconceptions surrounding what it means to talk to a mental health professional. Oftentimes, the need to talk about your emotions can be seen as weak or shameful, and this stigma is often why people don’t seek help in the first place. But here’s the reality: counseling is an incredibly useful tool that helps with a range of issues. Each session is for you and about you. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for what you really want and need.
Helpful Topics of Discussion
You’re feeling a myriad of emotions now that your child’s adoption has been finalized. Several scenarios and future fears are running through your mind all at once. Oftentimes, it’s hard to distinguish your true emotions or even make sense of your thoughts. Here are a few topics that some birth mothers find helpful to talk about either one-on-one or in a group setting:
- Grief – It is often said that a birth mother breaks her own heart in order to give her child things she may not be able to provide at that time. It is a grief born out of love. You can know this and still feel only pain. It’s important to circumnavigate these feelings in order to move forward towards healing.
- Fear of future pregnancies – Part of you can’t wait until the day you’re pregnant again. However, even with time passed, the fear of uncertainty — of being able to handle previous trauma, of knowing you’ll set extremely high and unrealistic expectations — makes it hard to sleep. Don’t be afraid to voice this aloud!
- Guilt – Because placing a child for adoption is a decision, birth mothers often feel guilt for their grief. It is important to know that these feelings are common, but not deserved. You shouldn’t suffer!
You’re Never Alone With Us
Let your body heal post placement. Be gentle with yourself by embracing your new normal, reminding yourself that time is on your side, and never hesitating to reach out for help. Most importantly, don’t forget why you decided to place your child for adoption. As time passes and moments get dark, you may forget the why of it all. Hold onto your reasoning.
Adoption Choices of Colorado is here to help. With our post placement resources, you’ll never feel alone!
Adoption Choices of Colorado
For more information on adoption please contact Adoption Choices of Colorado. We can be 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.
Foote, Alysia. “Post-Placement Survival Guide For Birth Mothers.” Adoption.com, 5 Nov. 2016, adoption.com/post-placement-survival-guide-for-birth-mothers.
“Getting Pregnant after Placing.” Adoption Choices of Arizona, 17 May 2019, www.adoptionchoicesofarizona.org/blog/2019/05/getting-pregnant-after-placing/.
Leksander, Susan, et al. “What Is Life Like for Birth Mothers After Placement?” Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma, 24 Oct. 2018, cceok.org/news/what-life-birth-mothers-after-placement.