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Adoption Grief and Loss [Feelings to Expect]

Experiencing grief and loss with your adoption is valid because you are making a brave sacrifice to give your baby the best life possible.

You might be spending a lot of time right now researching the emotions of “giving a baby up” for adoption, how to deal with adoption grief, how it feels to go through the adoption process, and so much more. That’s a lot to think about! But that’s where this article comes in.

The first thing we should say is that every woman’s adoption experience and every woman’s feelings are different. Adoption is such a difficult decision to make, so it’s important to remember that there is no wrong or right feeling of “giving up” your child for adoption. Because of this, it’s impossible to give a one-size-fits-all answer that encompasses the way every birth parent feels when they have to “give up” a child for adoption. Just know that, no matter which unplanned pregnancy choice you make, there are resources and professionals to help you deal with these complex emotions.

With that being said, we’ve listed some common feelings below that almost all birth parents experience, no matter where they come from or what their story is. Remember that it’s normal to feel a range of these emotions or just a few of them as you process your adoption decision. You might be hit with them right now, in a few months, or a few years. These are all normal stages of the adoption grieving process. And keep in mind that, no matter when you experience any of these feelings, it’s never too late or too early to reach out to an adoption specialist for advice or support as you move through this difficult process before and after placement.


It’s not easy to make an adoption plan for your child. On top of the grief after placing a baby for adoption, there are many mothers who feel guilty “giving a baby up” for adoption. Even if you know it’s the right decision, you may even feel selfish or that it’s wrong to have placed your child with another family. Due to persistent negative adoption language and the stigma of choosing adoption, you might feel like you are “giving away” or “giving up on” your baby or on yourself as a mother. But adoption is a brave, loving and selfless choice — it’s not “giving up” at all. Although you might see this phrase used throughout the article, it is not one we agree with. It is simply a way for us to connect with women at their understanding of adoption and educate them on a healthier and more positive way to think about adoption.

You might also be experiencing some pushback from your friends or family when you tell them about your adoption decision, exacerbating those feelings of shame — making it even harder to really know what the best or right decision for you is. These feelings of guilt associated with birth mothers “giving a child up” for adoption are normal and very common. But it doesn’t mean that you made the wrong decision in choosing adoption for your baby. You know what’s best for you and your baby.

One birth mother didn’t have the support of her family, but she knew adoption was the only way should give her baby the best life possible.

“Adoption has a stigma,” Casey 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.”

These heavy feelings will take some time to work through. Even if you know you’ve done nothing wrong, it’s hard not to take other people’s feelings into consideration while you make your adoption plan. Try to remember that, no matter what anyone else feels about adoption, this is ultimately your decision to make, and no one has the right to shame you for it.


Every birth mother grieves the adoption in her own way and in her own time. Understand that, as you process the loss of a child through adoption, you will likely experience a full range of emotions. Many birth mothers move through the stages of grief and experience feelings like:

  • Relief
  • Anger
  • Grief
  • Loss
  • Fear
  • And even temporary bouts of doubt and regret after giving a child up for adoption

It’s also normal to bounce to and from all of these feelings after placement — even after you think you’ve long moved past them.

You may think that you’re completely fine one moment and that you’re able to move through your daily routine. And then next thing you know, a wave of emotion can hit you all over again. The most important thing to take away from this is that grief is not a linear path and there’s no set time that you have to be “over it.” Please remember that postpartum grief when placing a baby for adoption is normal and that you have nothing to be ashamed of.

“It’s very rough in the beginning, but it does get better,” Sara said about the emotions she experienced after placing her baby for adoption. “It takes you a while to realize that what you did was the best thing and, regardless of the situation that put you there, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Your ultimate decision was to place him in a family that would love him unconditionally, love him like he was their biological child.”

It’s important not to bottle up any of these feelings when and if you do experience them. Keeping them locked inside can have a dramatic effect on not only your mental state, leading to depression during the adoption process, but your physical being as well. Letting yourself fully experience each feeling is the best way to move through the adoption grief process toward acceptance. And no matter how you’re feeling, remember that it’s always possible to reach out to a specialist if you’re looking for someone to speak with.


Acceptance is usually the last stage of what it’s like to give a child up for adoption during the grief and loss process. Acceptance does not mean that you’ve completely moved on or healed from your feelings. Rather, it means that you’ve reached a stage where you’re finally at peace with your adoption decision and you’re ready to move forward. Feelings that you already experienced during the grief and loss process may crop up from time to time, but at this point, you are better equipped to deal with them as they arise. Whether you are still in contact with the adoptive family or not, you can rest easy knowing that you’ve made the best decision for you and your baby.

“Honestly, just sit down and think about the best interest of your child,” birth mother Julia said. “You’re going to contemplate the decision a hundred times but, at the end of the day, you’re going to know what’s right for you and what’s right for your child. Don’t think that your life is over; yeah, you have a little bump in the road, but that’s not going to stop you.”


The emotional effects of “giving a child up” for adoption will last for a lifetime. While they may ebb and flow, and they will never completely go away, there are things that you can do to make the healing process a little bit easier.

  • Try to keep busy to take your mind away from the adoption grieving process.
  • Reintroduce yourself to your favorite hobbies and take up some new ones.
  • And always remember that there are people who are ready to listen and want to know what you’re going through, like your adoption specialist, an adoption counselor, or your friends and family.

If you have any problems coping with your emotions during the adoption process or even after placement, please don’t hesitate to reach out. And if you’re just getting started but you’re ready to learn more about the feelings of “giving a baby up” for adoption and preparing for the grief and loss process, contact us today to get in touch with an adoption specialist.