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Birth Mother: Dealing With Life After Adoption

Woman sitting on rocks overlooking the water, thinking about life after adoption“With every adoption and every union, there is also loss, a biological parent being separated from their child,” explains Felicia Curcuru, Huffington Post. So, it should come as no surprise that one of the biggest questions we hear birth mothers ask is, “How will I feel after adoption?” And, unfortunately, there is no one answer. Some mothers feel a sense of loss, some mothers feel hopeful since they are giving their child a chance at a better life. “It is difficult to generalize about the impact of adoption on all birth parents,” says the  Child Welfare Information Gateway. “Each has faced a unique experience and coped in his or her own way.”

However, there are several very common post-adoption emotions experienced by birth mothers. “75 percent of the women surveyed reported that their emotional health was very poor, poor, or neutral in the first year after placement,” according to a national survey conducted by the On Your Feet Foundation. Common emotions include:

  • Joy: Some birth mothers really do feel joy after the process is over. They know in their heart that they did the right thing for both their child and themselves. 
  • Grief: On the other end of the spectrum, “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).”
  • Relief: Birth mothers who choose adoption can feel a sense of relief when the process is completed. 
  • Guilt: “Amidst all the happiness there is still a twinge in my gut that reminds me something is off,” says Annaleece Merrill, birth mother. “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.”
  • Regret: At times, birth mothers may feel regret and wonder if they made the right choice.
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“All these feelings are normal reactions to loss,” according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway. 

Dealing with Your Emotions

“Being able to openly share feelings is often helpful in moving through the stages of grief and achieving some resolution,” says the Child Welfare Information Gateway. This can be done in several ways:

  • Write it Down: Many birth mothers find it useful to keep a journal or blog to put their emotions into words. “This may serve as an outlet for grief or other emotions, and it can also serve to provide some perspective over time,” according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway.
  • Build a Support Network: “Support is an important component of taking care of yourself throughout this process,” says Curcuru. “If you feel like it’s hard to find support within your family or circle of friends, try finding support from other places.” If you do not have strong support from friends and family, “you can see that through an adoption agency worker/counselor,” says Dean Kirschner, Ph.D., LCSW-C, Adoption Makes Family.
  • Counseling: “Counseling is a necessary component of infant adoption, not just prior to placement but, in many cases, after placement as well,” explain Johnson and Faasse.

Adoption Counseling Services in Maryland

In 2013 in the state of Maryland, Governor Martin O’Malley signed into law House Bill 563, which has helped numerous pregnant women in Maryland by allowing adoptive families to help cover certain expenses, including reasonable charge or fee for adoption counseling.

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. We are here to help.

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 dr.kirschner@adoptionmakesfamily.org or use our online contact form.

Sources

  1. “Child Welfare Information Gateway.” Aug. 2013.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Patricelli, Kathryn. “Long-Term Issues For Birthmothers After Adoption.” Mental Help James Marcia and SelfIdentity Comments, www.mentalhelp.net/articles/long-term-issues-for-birthmothers-after-adoption/.
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