Placing a child for adoption is a decision that takes incredible strength and courage. But for many women, this one selfless act can create an incredible amount of grief and loss. You don’t have to go through it alone.
Challenging feelings are normal after placing a baby for adoption, but you may be surprised to find that you’re not coping with them as well as you hoped. After all, you’ve spent many months and countless hours turning over this decision in your head and preparing for life after placement. Shouldn’t you be coping with “giving a child up” for adoption better? Not necessarily.
Postpartum grief, especially after adoption, is more common than you might think. The reality is, there is no one-size-fits-all answer or solution that will make it easier to cope with “giving a baby up” for adoption. The way each birth parent feels after they “give a child up” for adoption depends on their unique situation. This will be a process of trial and error, and you will need to be patient with yourself to understand what works for you as you discover your coping mechanism. And remember, there is no time limit on this unique healing process, so you can take as long as you need.
As your start your healing journey after placing a child up for adoption, here are four tips that may be helpful if you’re wondering how to cope with “giving your baby up” for adoption.
STEP 1: ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR FEELINGS
The pain that emerges from placing a child for adoption can’t be pushed down until you don’t feel it anymore. Before you can truly begin the healing process, you must get in touch with your own feelings. Let yourself feel the emotions of grief, loss, and anger as you move through the stages of grief after placing a child for adoption. Your feelings are valid, and you shouldn’t pretend that they don’t exist. In fact, ignoring them can do more damage than you might think.
No matter how you’re feeling, remember that it doesn’t mean that you made the wrong decision. In fact, you made your decision to give your baby the best possible life, filled with love and opportunity. That makes you a hero.
And if you don’t go through the grief and loss process as strongly as other birth parents, then that’s okay too. If you’re struggling with how to deal with “giving your baby up” for adoption, remember that these are your feelings, and that you have the right to process them in your own way and in your own time. No one can tell you exactly how to deal with “giving up” a baby for adoption. But, if you start y acknowledging your feelings and remembering your reasons for your decision, you will eventually reach a place of acceptance.
“I would not have been able to provide for him financially, emotionally, and physically without another full time partner and also the help of my parents,” said Michelle about choosing to give her son the best life possible. “Choosing adoption for Ryan was the most difficult decision I have ever made in my life, but now that I have my daughter I am even more positive than ever before that I made the best decision for him. I know that he has the family he was meant to be with and that everything truly did happen for a reason.”
It’s important to let go of any feelings that you “gave up” on yourself or your baby by choosing adoption – and that starts with changing the language you use to think about your adoption decision. Although you will see the term “giving a baby up for adoption” use throughout this article, it is not a phrase we agree with, nor is it an accurate reflection of your adoption decision. There is no way that you simply “gave up” on yourself or on your child or gave them away. You made an incredibly brave, selfless and loving decision to give them the best life you possibly could.
STEP 2: REACH OUT TO SOMEONE YOU TRUST
You may be going through the grieving process on your own time, but that doesn’t mean you have to do everything on your own. There are plenty of people in your life who are ready to listen to what you’re going through, and it may be helpful to reach out to those who care for you. Your adoption specialist or a counselor will have plenty of experience when it comes to helping someone cope with “giving a baby up” for adoption. They can also provide more information about emotions you might experience during the adoption process and the effects of placing a child for adoption.
But while your professional will be a great source of comfort during this difficult time, it might be helpful to reach out to other birth parents as well. The experience of placing a child for adoption is wholly unique, and it can be a relief to talk someone who’s walked around in your shoes. There are a number of birth parent support groups and forums that you can reach out to, or you might be satisfied just by reading their stories on social media. And don’t forget, your friends and family are here for you, too.
STEP 3: FOCUS ON YOURSELF
As you learn how to cope with putting your baby up for adoption, you’ll probably feel like you’re on an exhausting emotional roller coaster. One minute you’re hit by feelings of grief, and the next you’re feeling relieved and confident about your adoption decision. Bouncing back and forth between the two is normal, and both feelings are perfectly OK. Feelings of grief and loss come in waves. It’s normal to feel like you’ve moved on, only to be hit by those same feelings months or even years later. The most important thing to know that this is very common and normal.
“It was such a happy day but sad at the same time,” said Donna about moving forward after placing her son for adoption. “I had given another couple the greatest gift imaginable and I wouldn’t be the one bringing him home. I am sure that I made the best decision possible for me and I wouldn’t change a thing. I am now pursuing my degree as a Clinical Laboratory Technician and raising my daughter the best that I can.”
If you can, carve out some space and time to focus on yourself. The feelings of placing a child for adoption are no joke, so it’s okay to take some time to pamper yourself and do what you love. Put some extra work into your hobbies, find a new one, or reconnect with the people you care about. Whatever you decide to do, find something that makes you feel like your old self — or, better yet, like an even better, stronger, new version of yourself!
STEP 4: IF POSSIBLE, MAINTAIN OPENNESS
If you’ve placed your baby for adoption, you may feel like it’s impossible to move past feelings of grief and loss or to fully cope with “giving a baby up” for adoption. After all, adoption is a decision that will affect you for the rest of your life. Realize that reaching acceptance for your adoption decision is a lifelong process. There is no set time limit to “get over” what you’re feeling, and you’re not in a race to feel better.
Many women who have struggled coping with “giving a baby up” for adoption find comfort in have some degree of openness with the adoptive family and their child. Knowing that your child is happy, loved, and safe with the family you handpicked may ease some of the painful feelings you’re experiencing. Knowing how your child is doing can help you feel pride in your decision and to feel confident that you’ve made the best choice for you and your baby.
“I love still being able to have that connection with Juniper,” Randi said about her open adoption. “I get all jittery thinking about it because it’s going to blow my mind when she’s five and she starts talking, and I can actually talk to her and have a conversation with her.”
You can stay in contact through pictures and letters, phone calls, emails, and even in-person visits. Remember that choosing adoption doesn’t mean that you’re giving up on a relationship with your child. You are always able to build a relationship with them, if you choose to.
Processing your feelings toward your adoption will be a lifelong journey. But, you’re never alone. Remember that adoption agencies offer free counseling throughout the adoption process and long after. If you ever need to reach out to someone just to talk, or you need more resources on how to deal with “giving a baby up” for adoption, a specialist will be ready to answer.