The first 24 hours after placement was the worst 24 hours of my life, but it was also the best 24 hours of my life. I felt like my soul had been ripped from my body, but I also knew this was the start of a new life for my son and I.
Hell on Earth
I wish I could tell you that the first moment after placement was the most hopeful moment I have ever had, but that would not be true. It was one of the worst moments of my life. While I knew what I was doing was the right thing to do, it didn’t change how I felt about it and how bad it hurt.
In the first 24 hours, I was in shock. I don’t remember much about what happened. I do remember watching my son’s parents drive away with him in the car and falling to the ground. I was a mother for six months, and then immediately after that car drove away, I didn’t know who I was anymore. I think that is what made it so hard; my identity felt like it was completely ripped away from me. There was nothing left worth living for in my eyes in that moment. I was dead.
Identity Lost and Identity Found
Perhaps if I had known someone who could tell me what to expect, it wouldn’t have hurt so bad. Identity is crucial in experiencing life the way that God intended. Identity tells us everything we need to know about who we are and how we are to live our lives. Since the only role I had envisioned in my life was being a mother, the idea of being anything other than that did not occur to me in the next 24 hours after placement. I think having my son for six months before placement made things more difficult, as well as being basically completely on my own.
Identity also tells us that there is hope where it may seem hopeless. I didn’t know how to be a birth mother because I didn’t know anything about the feelings that I would go through. I didn’t know what to expect after placement. I wasn’t expecting the loss, the grief, the identity crisis, or all of the emotions that began to escape that I had stored up through the adoption process. I had such tunnel vision throughout the adoption process of just getting it done properly for my son, that I never really took the time to consider what I would feel and go through after placement.
Suggestions for the First 24 Hours
Perhaps I could have considered and prepared in the following ways:
- Make sure you have a support person with you. Make sure it is someone who you trust and you know will hold you while you cry without judgement.
- Don’t be afraid of the grief that you will feel. That is normal. Also, the reaction of shock is normal.
- Don’t put any expectations on yourself and how you will feel.
- Dive into your faith (whatever that may be) like you never have before and rely upon your Creator to comfort and strengthen you.
- While you shouldn’t dread going through what I went through, and while that may not be your experience, know that sadness is a feeling that we experience in life and it is normal.
Whatever you do, don’t hesitate to follow through with your decision because you are afraid of how it might make you feel. Change is hard, especially a change like going from a mother to a birth mother. Sad feelings are par for the course, and they will get better.
A New Hope
Within the first 24 hours of placement, I felt as if my world turned upside-down and I was hanging on to it by a thread. While I don’t remember much of those first 24 hours, I do remember sadness like I had never felt before. In hindsight, I can now say that those 24 hours were the beginning of the rest of our lives.
It was within those first 24 hours that I began to evolve into the woman that I have become today. My son began bonding with his mother and father. Our lives changed for the better, not for the worse. A new opportunity for fulfillment and security suddenly became available to my son and I. The door to a new life had been opened. After all of the hard work of dealing with the adoption process was coming to a close, it was actually happening: placement.
Sadness Shall Pass
Don’t give up due to fear of your emotions. Don’t let those feelings consume you and eat you alive. Keep those who support you and care about you close. Remember why you made the decision in the first place, because whether you experience sadness within the first 24 hours or after six years, the peace of the decision you have made is what will get you through. The decision for adoption is selfless, courageous, and is not made in vain. Those feelings of sadness will pass. The tears will dry. A smile will begin to appear again. Colors will come back into the world. Get through the first 24 hours and don’t give up. It is all worth it for the new life that both you and your child will have. I know it has been for my son and I.
Lindsay is a guest blogger for Considering Adoption. She placed her son for adoption 7 years ago and hopes to use her experience to support and educate other expectant mothers considering adoption, as well as adoptive families.