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How to Cope After "Giving Baby Up" for Adoption [3 Steps]

American Adoptions Offers Post-Adoption Support

You may be surprised to find that you’re not coping with giving a child up for adoption as well as you thought you would.

After all, you should be feeling good about giving a baby up for adoption, right? You put so much thought and love into your decision, and you know your baby is growing up happy and loved with the wonderful parents you picked.

Despite the comfort that you may find in knowing that you made the right choice for yourself and your child in a difficult situation, it’s very common to still have feelings of grief, loss, or other complex emotions after placing a baby for adoption.

When learning to cope with placing your baby for adoption, there are three steps you can take:

  • Identify what you’re feeling

  • Talk to someone about what you’re feeling

  • Find the joy in your choice

Learning how to deal with giving up a baby for adoption and the emotions that come with it takes time and patience with yourself, but you’ll find that coping with giving a baby up for adoption becomes easier when you allow yourself those things.

Here are some ways to help you cope after placing a baby for adoption and move toward a sense of peace with your adoption decision.

How to Cope with “Giving Your Baby Up” for Adoption

Before you can begin to heal after placing a child for adoption, you may need to change how you look at your adoption decision. Are you using phrases like “giving up” or “giving away” when talking about adoption? If so, you’re probably placing blame on yourself, and that’s unfair.

Using positive adoption language is not only beneficial for adoptees, it’s beneficial for yourself. Get in the habit of saying, “I placed my child with their parents.”

Birth mother Casey knows that her adoption decision is something to be proud of. She did something brave, loving and heroic by placing her twin sons for adoption, and she has a message for other birth mothers who might be feeling guilt or shame for “giving a baby up” for adoption.

“Adoption has a stigma,” she said. “You know, there’s that ignorance that you’re ‘giving up’ the children, when you do not ‘give up’ a human being. In reality, you’re choosing something for them… I know a lot of people try to hide it because they’re ashamed of it, and you shouldn’t be. You made a big and hard decision for what was best for your child, and you should be proud of that.”

If you’re no longer blaming yourself for making what is a brave and selfless decision for your child, then you’re ready to begin coping with your emotions after an adoption placement.

While everyone grieves and heals differently, these three steps are common ways for people to cope with “giving a child up” for adoption:

Step 1: Figure Out What You’re Feeling

Emotions don’t always show themselves in clear ways — especially if you’re trying to ignore what you’re feeling. Learning how to cope after “giving your baby up” for adoption doesn’t happen overnight, so it’s ok if you’re still grieving.

A good place to start when you’re learning how to deal with “giving a child up” for adoption is to try to figure out what you’re feeling. Feeling sadness and loss doesn’t mean that you regret your decision. Feeling numb or even relieved doesn’t make you cold or “a bad mother.”

However you’re feeling, it’s always good to recognize that those emotions are a normal part of learning how to deal with giving your baby up for adoption and moving towards peace.

Step 2: Talk to Someone

Again, it’s normal to grieve after placing a baby for adoption, and that grieving process will take as long as it takes for each individual — there’s no deadline for healing.

However, it’s important that you don’t isolate yourself. There are other people who have had experiences similar to yours, and who know what it’s like to have to learn how to feel ok giving a child for adoption.

There are always people you can reach out to if you’re feeling alone, including:

The adoption specialists at American Adoptions are here to support you 24/7. They can provide a safe space to vent, guidance and emotional support.

Many of our adoption specialists have firsthand experience with the adoption process as birth parents and have been in your shoes before. This firsthand perspective allows us to give you the empathetic support you deserve.

“She was there for me when I didn’t have anybody, and she always knew just what to say,” birth mother Lindsey said about her supportive adoption specialist. “I did have a lot of concerns and fears, and she knew how to talk me through them. She’s someone that’s — even now, three months after I’ve had my baby — probably going to check in on me from time to time. She was just amazing, and I’m so glad that she’s in my life.”

If you’re having difficulty figuring out how to cope with “giving your baby up” for adoption, talk to someone who may have experienced similar feelings, or who can at least listen and support you as you process your post-adoption emotions. You may find that by reaching out to others, you end up helping someone else cope with “giving a baby up” for adoption, too.

Step 3: Find the Joy in Your Choice (While Acknowledging the Sadness)

There is probably plenty to love about your adoption decision. There’s also probably plenty to feel heartache over. It’s ok to feel both.

“After two or three months… I realized they’re where they need to be, I was getting pictures, they were happy,” birth mother after placing her twins for adoption. “Now, it’s almost been a year, and I miss them sometimes — I miss them all the time, and sometimes I wonder what it would have been like if I had kept them — but I know it was the right choice.”

Much of adoption is about joy and loss. This is true for the entire adoption triad:

  • Adoptive parents often experience the grief of infertility or of failed adoption matches before experiencing the joy of welcoming your child into their lives.

  • Adoptees often feel the loss of one family combined with the joy of gaining a different family.

  • Birth families often grieve the loss of a child while celebrating the joy of knowing that child is happy and cared for.

It would be unfair to yourself to ignore the loss that you feel when you’re coping with “giving a child up” for adoption. The painful feelings are just as important as the positive ones.

That being said, any time you feel like you might be getting caught up in sadness, it can sometimes be helpful to try to remind yourself of the positive aspects of your decision. Remember that:

  • You made an important and careful decision in a difficult situation, and it was what was best for you and your child at that time in your life.

  • You’re able to continue pursuing your goals (in your family, career, education and beyond) because you’re not raising this baby.

  • You were able to give the most important gift to a family who had been waiting and desperately wishing for a child. To that family, you will forever be a hero.

  • Your baby will grow up knowing how much they are loved by both their birth and adoptive families, and how they were, and always will be, wanted.

  • Your child will be provided for, loved, cherished and given opportunities that you may not have been able to offer at a certain point in your life.

  • There are always people who will love and support you as you cope after adoption, including your child and their family, your adoption specialist, the community of fellow birth parents and more.

“It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but at the same time, I knew it was the right thing for me to do.  In my heart he will always be my little boy and my son, even if someone else is raising him,” said Michelle about her adoption experience.

If you ever need post-adoption support or advice on how to deal with “giving up” your child for adoption, you can always contact us online or at 1-800-ADOPTION. If you are looking for other people to cope with about “giving a child up” for adoption, you can ask to talk to Michelle, a birth mother at American Adoptions who knows what it’s like to grieve and heal after placing a baby for adoption.

There’s no guidebook for how to feel better about “giving a child up” for adoption. Adoption is a lifelong emotional journey, and how to deal with “giving up” your child for adoption is up to you. We will be there to support you in any way you need.

Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. American Adoptions provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is American Adoptions the right adoption agency choice for many birth mothers?

American Adoptions is one of the largest licensed adoption agencies in the United States. Each year, we work with thousands of women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy and offer assistance to these women. Our large, caring staff is able to assist you seven days a week and provide you with one-on-one counseling about your pregnancy and available options.

You should choose an adoption agency where you feel completely comfortable with their services and staff. With American Adoptions, you will work with an Adoption Specialist who is on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Adoption Specialist will be your advocate and will provide support and guidance as you create an adoption plan that is right for you.

How will the family tell my child about me and the adoption when my child is older?

Each family has their own style of introducing adoption to the child. When you are matched with an adoptive family, you can ask them this question. If you would like your Adoption Specialist to discuss it for you, just let her know. He or she can share your wishes or provide good ideas from other adoptive families.

You will also be able to share what you want your baby to know about you. You can complete a keepsake booklet to share hobbies, stories, photos of you and your family and a letter to your baby. The adoptive family can provide this to your child as he or she grows older. Be as creative as you like! Some birth mothers have even knitted a special blanket as a gift to their baby or given a similar symbol of their love.

The father of your baby can fill out the birth father's keepsake booklet or write a letter too. You may have other family members who would also like to share photos or a letter to the baby. This is your opportunity to pass on your and your family's love and to share your personality, history and reasons for choosing adoption. The adoptive family will treasure whatever information you provide and will share it with the baby at an appropriate age. In most adoptive homes, the word adoption is in the child's vocabulary early on, and adoption is celebrated in their lives.

Additional Resources

Teen Pregnancy - Information for Young Women

While not every woman who chooses adoption is a young mother, many are. Through adoption, many young women have found an ability to give their babies the best life possible, while finding the opportunity to realize their own dreams, as well. Call American Adoptions today at 1-800-ADOPTION.

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Do adoption terms and phrases leave you feeling confused? Learn the meaning to key adoption words and phrases with our comprehensive adoption glossary.

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