When you’re an expectant mother considering adoption, an ultrasound can be full of conflicting emotions. Hearing your baby’s heartbeat and seeing them for the first time is emotional for any expectant mother — but especially so for those who plan to place their child with another family.

We know how difficult these situations can be. Your adoption specialist will always be there to help you prepare for these ultrasounds and give you the support you need along the way. We are here for you, and we are always willing to listen to your concerns or answer any questions you may have.

Your sonogram schedule will depend upon your obstetrician’s prenatal care protocol. Some expectant mothers have ultrasounds as early as six or eight weeks, while other women don’t have an ultrasound until 18–22 weeks of pregnancy. Stay in contact with your doctor to plan for your ultrasounds, and remember that your medical care will always be free when you work with American Adoptions.

Every prospective birth mother’s ultrasound experience will be different, based on her personal circumstances. However, many expectant mothers feel a combination of the following emotions leading up to, during and after their ultrasound appointments.

1. Shock or Numbness

An unplanned pregnancy can be a scary situation, and it’s completely normal to distance yourself from the reality of your situation. But, when you hear the heartbeat or see your baby for the first time, it can hit you hard. It’s completely normal for expectant mothers to feel shock or numbness when this happens as they come to terms with their pregnancy.

On the other hand, some expectant mothers receive pregnancy ultrasounds the very first day they find out they’re pregnant. It’s not unusual for women to discover their pregnancy during an unrelated doctor’s visit. Or, they may be seeing the doctor because they don’t recognize their symptoms as pregnancy-related and are shocked to discover they are pregnant.

2. Sadness or Grief

As your pregnancy becomes real, the plans you made for adoption may take on a new meaning for you, too. Seeing your baby or hearing their heartbeat may make you better understand what you will be losing by placing your child for adoption. It’s completely normal to feel sad at any point in the adoption process, but ultrasounds can highlight this emotion.

Remember, you are never obligated to choose adoption. Your anticipatory sadness and grief may show you parenting is the right path for you — or it will emphasize the love you have to place your child with another family at the end of your pregnancy.

3. Attachment to the Baby

Many expectant mothers who consider adoption try to distance themselves from the baby growing inside them. For some, this can be a good way to temper their emotions and prepare to place their child with someone else.

You might be surprised at how intensely you feel a bond to your baby during your ultrasound. Again, this is 100% normal and expected. It can be easy to distract yourself from the child inside of you during your daily routine, but seeing and hearing your baby on an ultrasound can remind you that you’re growing a living, breathing human being.

You will forever have a bond with this child, whether you decide to parent or ultimately choose to place them for adoption. Try to embrace these feelings, and remember to turn to your adoption specialist for guidance and support.

4. Relief

Some prospective birth mothers report feeling intense emotions of relief during their ultrasound. They may have been worried about the baby’s health or well-being, but an ultrasound can confirm a child is developing as expected.

Whether you plan on parenting or placing your child for adoption, you will have a great deal of love for them — and you’ll want them to be as healthy as possible when they come into this world.

5. Happiness

When you hear your baby is healthy, you may also feel a great deal of happiness — for your child, for the adoptive family you’ve chosen, and for yourself. You may be thrilled that you will be bringing a healthy baby into the world and placing them with a family who can give opportunities you want your child to have.

You might even feel pride in your adoption decision and not triggered at all by the other emotions mentioned here, or your happiness may lead to think about your parenting options again. There is no “right” or “wrong” reason to be happy during an adoption ultrasound.

If the adoptive parents are a part of your ultrasound (either physically or via video), you may be overjoyed to see their reaction to the baby growing inside of you. Your ultrasound might become a bonding experience for you both and proof to yourself that you have made the best decision for your situation.

6. Disappointment

During your 20-week ultrasound, you will likely find out the gender of your baby. This can come with all kinds of complicated emotions, especially if you are considering placing your child for adoption.

Perhaps you are already raising a daughter and find out you’re having a son. This can be disappointing, especially if you have always wanted a son of your own. It can make you question your adoption decision (which is totally fine!) or make it harder for you to be happy for the adoptive parents you’ve chosen.

We know the baby’s gender can be a complicated issue, but we encourage all prospective birth mothers to find out the gender prior to birth. That way, they can work through any emotions they might have and ensure they’re making the right choice for their circumstances.

7. Nothing

You may not feel any of the above emotions at your ultrasound. You might feel no different after seeing or hearing your baby for the first time, and you might continue to be indifferent to the situation you’re in.

There’s nothing “wrong” with you for feeling this way. Every prospective birth mother copes with her decision differently. Maybe you’ve already accepted your unplanned pregnancy and adoption decision, and your ultrasound doesn’t change that fact. Whatever you’re feeling, it is valid to your unique adoption experience.

Remember, American Adoptions is always here to provide free support and counseling during your adoption journey. Reach out to an adoption specialist anytime at 1-800-ADOPTION.