Preparing for the Emotions of an Adoption Placement

If you’re considering placing your baby for adoption, you’re likely worried about the emotional aftermath. Adoption is hard. This will be a loss. But with time, love and support, you’ll find peace and happiness again.

The emotions that birth parents experience after placement will vary. You may experience emotions to differing degrees and combinations and at different times. It’s important to remember that everyone’s experience is different

However, the feelings that birth parents most often experience shortly after placement include:

1. Grief

Many prospective birth parents are afraid of this emotion — of mourning the loss of raising their child. Sadness and loss are important emotions — they show our boundless capability to love. 

Every birth parent experiences grief and loss differently after placing a baby for adoption. Each person will express their grief at their own pace and in their own way. During periods of grief and sadness, it’s important that you feel supported and loved.

Talk to your friends and family, your American Adoptions specialist, a religious leader or counselor, or join a support group for birth parents. Practice basic self-care to make sure that you’re physically, mentally and emotionally meeting your needs. 

When you’re ready, try exploring outlets to ease your mourning — like journaling, beginning a fitness challenge, or starting a new creative endeavor. 

2. Relief

This can be a complex emotion for birth parents who have recently placed a child for adoption. But it’s never wrong if you feel relief for making an adoption decision. 

After experiencing one of the most emotionally difficult choices a person can make, you went through a rigorous adoption process — all while carrying your child. It’s not unreasonable for some people to feel a sense of relief when their child is safely placed into the arms of the family they’d carefully chosen. 

Immediately after placement, many birth parents experience relief knowing that their child is going to be loved and cared for and have a wonderful life. Just like your child, you deserve to have your own peace.

3. Guilt

Shame or guilt can weigh on birth parents post-placement. This can be made worse by feeling like you can’t talk about your adoption decision. Some may worry that not being able to parent their child makes them a “bad” parent. 

Always remember that you did what you felt was best for your child at the time, with the resources you had available. That’s nothing to be ashamed of. Putting the needs of your child first will always make you an amazing parent, even if you’re not raising your child.

As best you can, try to be patient and kind with yourself. Guilt can resurface when you feel like you’re “moving on,” but remember that you deserve to heal — you deserve love and happiness in your life.

4. Anger

Pain often expresses itself as anger. Sometimes we want to find someone responsible for the pain we feel, even though it isn’t anyone’s fault. After placement, you may feel anger toward the birth father, the adoptive parents, your adoption specialist or yourself. 

Try to find healthy ways to express and release anger to avoid lashing out at anyone, including yourself. No emotion is ever “wrong,” including anger. But acting out of anger can sometimes hurt important relationships in your life or hurt yourself, so ask for advice and talk through things if you need help working through this emotion.

5. Hope

Allow yourself to feel hopeful, whenever it comes. You may find yourself experiencing moments of hope when you first see your child with his or her parents or when you share contact with them after placement.

You deserve to feel hopeful about your future. There is a lot of joy and hope to be found in adoption, even though there is also loss. You and your child both have lives full of opportunities ahead of you. There are good things ahead, and you deserve to enjoy that.

No Two Birth Parents’ Journeys to Healing Are the Same

Everyone’s experience with adoption is unique. Some birth parents feel confident and at peace with their decision from the moment they place their child in the arms of his or her parents. Others will have a long road of healing to find peace and acceptance after placement.

Whatever you feel before, during and after an adoption placement is not “wrong” — everyone’s emotional experiences are equally valid and important. It can be confusing to talk about what you’re going through with others; it’s not uncommon to have conflicting thoughts and emotions, like being sad and happy at the same time.

When you’re in the middle of grieving a placed child, it can be hard to see how things will ever feel better. But with time and support, you’ll find peace and love in your life again.

You’re Not Alone

No matter what, it’s important that you’re supported throughout your adoption journey and beyond. Some birth parents find comfort in talking with other people who have placed a child for adoption, but you can also reach out to your family, friends, or your American Adoptions specialist.

Remember: If you find yourself struggling with difficult emotions post-placement, reach out to a qualified counselor or therapist. Your American Adoptions specialist may be able to provide you with a referral, and we can connect you to post-adoption support.