While adoption is a wonderful gift, some birth mothers find themselves struggling emotionally to cope with their decision. “With every adoption and every union, there is also loss, a biological parent being separated from their child,” explains Felicia Curcuru, Huffington Post. According to a national survey conducted by the On Your Feet Foundation, “75 percent of the women surveyed reported that their emotional health was very poor, poor, or neutral in the first year after placement.” It is common for birth mothers to feel a wide range of emotions post-adoption. Some feel joy or relief, while others struggle with their decision.
- Grief: “There can be ongoing grief feelings that birthmothers feel over the loss of their child,” explains Kathryn Patricelli, MentalHelp.net. “Even when initial grieving has been completed, grief may re-surface and be felt rather acutely during “anniversary” periods (e.g., the child’s birthday).”
- Guilt: “Amidst all the happiness there is still a twinge in my gut that reminds me something is off,” says birth mother Annaleece Merrill. “A few days ago, I reached an epiphany: I feel guilty.”
- Anger: “You will feel anger with yourself, with your child’s adoptive parents, and with others that you encounter,” according to the article “What Birth Parents Should Know After Placement” on Adoption.com. “Anger is not unhealthy, and it doesn’t mean you were wrong to place.”
All of these feelings are normal reactions to loss. Still, it is important to have a plan in place to adequately deal with these emotions both before and after placement.
Struggling Emotionally? Pre- and Post-Adoption Counseling Can Help!
“Only support and the respectful acknowledgment of their choices and their emotions can help birth parents grieve in a healthy manner and, with time, allow for their healing and reconciliation of the adoption as a part of their life story,” explain Chuck Johnson, president and CEO of the National Council For Adoption, and Kris Faasse, LMSW, ACSW, Director of Adoption Services for Bethany Christian Services.
- Pre-Placement Counseling: “As with any difficult decision, feelings of anxiety, sorrow, and grief are common throughout the adoption process,” explain Johnson and Faasse, especially in the beginning. Pre-placement adoption counseling enables birth mothers to “make pregnancy decisions in an informed manner, after personal reflection, with all the facts and options on the table.”
- Post-Placement Counseling: “It is not uncommon for women to feel that, once they leave the hospital, they are left to fend for themselves,” write Susan Dusza Guerra Leksander, Susan Romer and Diane Landino in their article “What Is Life Like for Birth Mothers After Placement?” This is why post-placement adoption counseling can be so beneficial. “Good counseling provides a crucial foundation for birthmothers in dealing with their emotions and moving forward,” write Johnson and Faasse, “throughout the process until relinquishment, and after placement as they undertake the necessary work to grieve and to heal.”
Adoption Counseling Services in Maryland
Adoption Makes Family is a non-profit (501-C3) licensed adoption agency based in Maryland founded to meet the needs of birth parents and adoptive parents in a manner that is sensitive, compassionate, and personal. If you find yourself struggling emotionally, or if you just need someone to talk to, we are here to help. Adoption Makes Family will provide you with counseling throughout the adoption process. And this relationship does not end on the day of discharge from the hospital. There is post-placement adoption counseling available to you if you would like. You are welcome to meet with your adoption counselor or we will help you to find a counselor in an area close to you.
Call Us Now at (410) 683-2100
If you have any questions, you can contact us by phone at 410-683-2100, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or use our online contact form.
- “Child Welfare Information Gateway.” Aug. 2013.
- Curcuru, Felicia. “How Do Women Feel After Placing Their Baby For Adoption?” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 7 Dec. 2017, www.huffingtonpost.com/felicia-curcuru/how-do-women-feel-after-placing-their-baby-for-adoption_b_8287800.html.
- Merrill, Annaleece. “Confession: I Feel Guilty For Placing My Daughter For Adoption.” Adoption.com, adoption.com/confession-i-feel-guilty-for-placing-my-daughter-for-adoption.
- Patricelli, Kathryn. “Long-Term Issues For Birthmothers After Adoption.” Mental Help James Marcia and Self Identity Comments, www.mentalhelp.net/articles/long-term-issues-for-birthmothers-after-adoption/.