Adoption is an emotional rollercoaster for all involved, but the unique emotions that birth parents feel after placing their child for adoption is something that only those in this situation can understand. Feelings of grief and loss are very normal, as well as joy and relief that your child has been placed with the perfect adoptive family. When all these emotions combine, it can be an incredibly confusing time in a birth parent’s life.
While our specialists are always available to provide free emotional counseling to birth parents before, during and after an adoption is complete, we also understand that the healing process after you place your child for adoption is a personal one. Your grieving and healing process can take as long or as short as you need; there is no “right” way to cope with the complexities of your adoption decision.
As you begin the healing process after placing your child for adoption, consider these steps to help you move forward:
1. Take the time to feel your emotions.
While it can be tempting to bottle your emotions inside rather than deal with the difficulty of confronting them, ignoring your emotions as a birth parent can be incredibly harmful to your physical and mental health. Instead, take the time to feel what you are feeling. Don’t be afraid to cry, vent or even just lock yourself away from the world for a while. Only after you face these challenging emotions can you move closer to putting them behind you.
2. Speak with a professional.
Trained counselors can always guide you through the emotions you’re feeling and provide the support you may need. Unlike a loved one or family member who is directly impacted by your choice, a licensed professional can provide support that is non-judgmental and objective. Sometimes, you need someone who is experienced in the healthiest ways of dealing with grief to listen to you and give you suggestions without pushing you to do something you don’t wish to.
Remember, the adoption counselors at American Adoptions are always able to counsel you through your adoption process for free. Please call 1-800-ADOPTION today for professional, 24/7 support.
3. Pamper yourself.
Grief and loss are exhausting emotions to go through, and you shouldn’t have to feel burdened by them 24 hours a day. It’s okay to have periods of forgetting your grief or feeling “normal” again; it’s doesn’t mean you’re a bad birth mother. In fact, taking the time for yourself can help you heal from your adoption placement, rather than focusing on the difficult emotions all the time.
You may consider taking a bubble bath and watching your favorite movie, treating yourself to your favorite meal, or just spending all day in bed reading a book. You made a choice that many people wouldn’t be brave enough to make, and you deserve some time to support yourself for that decision.
4. Spend time with loved ones.
If you need time for yourself during your grieving process, take it. But it may be beneficial to also spend time with close friends and family who were supportive of your decision. While you may feel like you’ve “lost” one member of your family, remember that you have many others who love you dearly and want you to be happy. Whether you choose to talk about your adoption or not with them, being around loved ones can remind you that you are not alone and that there are people who will support you through the difficult times in your life.
5. Remember that being a birth parent is a lifelong journey.
Placing your child for adoption is not something that you “just get over.” Your adoption decision will shape the rest of your life, whether or not you have an open adoption relationship with your son or daughter. While the initial pain of your grief and loss will fade over time, it’s normal for it to reemerge unexpectedly when something in your life triggers it.
Your emotions as a birth parent never completely go away, and that’s okay. Your identity as a birth parent is an important part of who you are, and it’s something to be proud of.
When you place your baby for adoption with American Adoptions, your adoption specialist will be available to you months and even years after your placement — to counsel you through any new or old emotions that emerge as you grow into your new identity as a loving and selfless birth parent.