I didn’t understand what I was going through at the time, but through research, counseling, and my healing path, I have realized something crucial: I have moved through the grief process when it comes from transitioning from having the role of a custodial parent to the role of being a birth mother. I want to explain how I walked through the grief process in hopes that it will give adoptive parents and potential adoptive parents insight into what a birth mother may go through, be going through, or have gone through.
I couldn’t face my emotions. It wasn’t the decision of choosing adoption that was scaring me, it was how I felt about the transition of my role. I couldn’t process or understand all of the emotions. I had to shut off the feelings for a while in order to move forward. I had to keep moving forward, but I didn’t know how to do that with all of the feelings that I was experiencing.
“It is a defense mechanism that buffers the immediate shock. We block out the words and hide from the facts. This is a temporary response that carries us through the first wave of pain.”
I felt like I had lost everything. I faced consequences of my decision by being disowned by loved ones, betrayed by those I trusted, and I felt like I was lost. My role as a custodial parent was gone, along with those I cared about. I was angry at my situation and channeled my emotions of pain into feelings of anger because, at the time, it was the only emotion that I could handle.
“Anger is a necessary stage of the healing process. Be willing to feel your anger, even though it may seem endless. The more you truly feel it, the more it will begin to dissipate and the more you will heal.”
I eventually began disappearing into myself. I couldn’t ignore the pain anymore of losing the role as custodial parent. The reality began hitting me of all of the things I wouldn’t experience as my role transitioned. I wasn’t regretting my decision, and I think that is crucial to mention. None of these stages were about regret. Depression was about facing the reality of how I felt, and it began to swallow me.
“Just as night is followed by day, so too your dark times will be followed by brighter days ahead.” – Karen Salmanohn
I would say this was the most difficult stage for me. I didn’t want to change my situation due to regret, but I desperately wanted to change my feelings of grief. I didn’t want to face the loneliness and confusion I was feeling and I pleaded with God to relieve me of the pain.
“The bargaining stage is characterized by attempting to negotiate with a higher power or someone or something you feel, whether realistically or not, that has some control over the situation.”
My prayers were answered from the bargaining stage. All of the sudden, the grief and pain began to evolve into the true realization: I was a birth mother. I had finally begun accepting that role and letting go of the old role that I played as the custodial parent. I can say in confidence today that I love being a birth mother. I love my son. I love his parents. It was the best choice, and it is still the best choice.
“I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born, says the Lord.” – Isaiah 66:9
I remember the day that I transferred custody of my son. As I watched his parents drive away with him, I broke down bawling and fell to the floor. My heart was broken into a million tiny pieces. Yet, it was bittersweet. I logically and intuitively knew I was doing the right thing, but it doesn’t mean that it didn’t hurt like hell. My point is this: Just because it hurts, doesn’t mean that I regret it.
Lindsay is a guest blogger for American Adoptions. She placed her son for adoption 7 years ago and hopes to use her experience to support and educate other expectant mothers considering adoption, as well as adoptive families.