When you choose adoption, it can be the start of a brighter future for everyone involved, but the steps to accomplish your goal can come with challenges. 

One of the biggest challenges is facing grief with your family and friends.

Grief can come with many emotions and responses, but with preparation, you can face these emotions and responses with clarity and create the future that is best for you and your child. Click here if you’d like to talk to an adoption specialist.

Common Family Grief Responses

You chose adoption. You made steps to prepare yourself and your family, but when the day comes, the emotions can hit you and your family in unexpected ways. Although the process will likely be new to you, we have seen this situation play out hundreds of times in different ways. 

Below are some of the most common (yet unexpected) responses.

Desire to “Save” You from Your Grief

When the day of your child’s birth comes, your family or friends might see you grieving and try to step in and “save” you from your grief. 

This can involve:

  • Suddenly offering help to take care of you or the baby
  • Trying to convince you to “keep” your baby because they don’t want to see you in pain
  • Offering to adopt your baby or trying to find someone else in the family to adopt your baby

Desire to “Save” Your Family Members from Grief

Just as your family may have difficulties watching you grieve, it can also be hard to watch family members grieve. In some cases it can make you rethink your decision in the hopes that it will make your family or friends happier.

Preparing Yourself for Family Members’ Grief

Just as you can prepare for your own grief, you can prepare for the grief of your family and friends. Here are some things you can do ahead of time to help you in the moment:

Remind Yourself That Grief Is Normal

When you choose adoption, it is normal to have family members who are grieving just as you are. Grief is a natural response, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re making the wrong decision.

Write Yourself a Note 

When you choose adoption before giving birth, you’ll likely be more clear-minded about your reasons for choosing adoption. If you write yourself a note or list of reasons why you are choosing adoption, then you can refer to it when you see family members grieving or when you’re grieving yourself.

Remember the Baby

Choosing adoption is a difficult decision, but in doing so, you have shown incredible strength and foresight. Prioritizing your baby’s best interests can bring you peace if your family is having a hard time with the adoption.

Think About the Long Term

Just as you can’t control what others do, you can’t control other people’s emotions. The only thing that you can control is making the best decision for your circumstances. Making a decision that prioritizes the emotions of a family member over yourself and your baby may seem easier in the moment, but it may lead to more hardship over time.

Preparing Family Members for Your Grief

When it’s time for the hospital stay, a flood of hormones and emotions can change the way you look at things. Just as you can prepare for your family members’ grief, you can also prepare them to see any grief responses you might have.

Share Your Decision and Expectations

If you are able to, then sharing your decision with family members ahead of time can help them move toward accepting your decision. 

It can be especially helpful if you let them know that you know you’ll grieve and prepare them to expect it.

Identify People Who Will Support You

Finding people to support you is an important part of getting through the stages of grief. As you speak to family members and friends, it may be helpful to ask yourself: 

“Is this person supporting my decision because I made it, or just because they agree with it?”

When your grief kicks in, family members or friends who support you (but not the decision) may step in at this moment and tell you that you’re making a mistake. You can prepare yourself for this ahead of time.

Ask for Reassurance and Reminders at Birth

If you are sure of your decision but unsure of how you will grieve, ask a friend or family member to help you when you start grieving. You might ask a friend or family member to:

  • Remind you of the long-term reasons why you’re choosing adoption.
  • Encourage you to be strong and stick with your decision.
  • Comfort you and stay with you through birth and afterward.

How to Respond to Family Members’ Grief in the Moment

If you find yourself responding to your family members’ grief:

  • Remind yourself of why you chose adoption.
  • Remind yourself of your priorities.
  • Ask for time and space from grieving family members if needed.

And here are a few ways you can respond to grieving family members:

  • Remind them that grief is normal and big feelings are temporary.
  • Reassure them that you know what you’re experiencing and why.
  • Ask for space and time to process your feelings by yourself if needed.

No matter what, we will always be here to help you process this grief, too. Our free, 24/7 counseling services are available whenever you need them. Contact us online to speak with us today.