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Time Heals All Wounds, Except Choosing Adoption — Thoughts from a Birth Mother

Does time really heal all wounds? What about the grief that comes with the decision to place a baby for adoption? Adoption may be a gift from a mother to a child, but there is still a great loss that occurs. Can we grieve the loss of our role as sole mothers and find satisfaction in our adoption decision, despite the grief? Grief is a normal experience for a woman after she has decided to place her baby up for adoption. However, just because grief is present does not necessarily mean that regret is present, too. A birth mother’s level of satisfaction with her adoption decision can change over time. Some women remain satisfied with their choice for their entire life, some never, and most ebb and flow through a varied degree of satisfaction. What determines how much time it takes to heal from an adoption? What are the factors that go into determining such a measurement of time and satisfaction? These questions are important for all women touched by adoption, for they allow a conversation about healing post-placement. It is important birth mothers in this nation have the support that they need to heal, and that comes by educating ourselves on how we can support that healing process. Of course, this means we first need to understand birth mothers better.

The Relationship Between Time and Birth Mother Satisfaction with Relinquishment

Recently, Families In Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services published an article: “The Relationship Between Time and Birth Mother Satisfaction With Relinquishment.” This article explores how birth mothers make their choices for adoption and the experiences they have as a result. The study included 223 birth mothers who had placed their children for adoption within the past 25 years. Researchers asked these birth mothers: “How satisfied are you with your decision to relinquish your child for adoption?” Here is what the study found: Six factors in a birth mother’s life stood out in terms of her feelings toward her adoption decision:
  1. Time since relinquishment: For every year that passed, there was a decrease in satisfaction.
  2. Age of the respondent: For every year for the age of the respondent, there was a decrease in satisfaction.
  3. Education level: The more education a woman had, the less satisfaction she experienced, as compared to more satisfaction with less education.
  4. Contact with the child: The more contact with the child, the higher the level of satisfaction.
  5. Full-time employment: Full-time employment proved the most satisfactory type of employment.
  6. Income: Those with higher income reported decreased satisfaction over time compared to those with lower income.
As we look at these results, there’s one thing to keep in mind: “The experiences reported by participants were varied and represent a broad spectrum of views about adoption.”

So, Is It True? Does Time Alone Heal All Wounds?

There is no black or white answer for this question concluded by the survey — because there is no simple answer for how any woman will feel at any given point after choosing adoption. There are too many life factors that come into play. With so many factors playing into birth mother satisfaction over a certain period, more research must be conducted to determine concrete results. However, the implications of this study go to prove that our country is not doing nearly enough to support birth mothers long-term. The truth is, no matter how much research I do, I can’t count on time alone to heal my wounds. There is self-effort, focus and determination involved to walk a path of healing. Of course, everyone is different, and everyone heals differently. Accept where you are on your healing journey, be kind to yourself, and most importantly — remember that you are not alone! “When I stand before thee at the day's end, thou shalt see my scars and know that I had my wounds and also my healing.” -Rabindranath Tagore -Lindsay Arielle Lindsay is a guest blogger for Considering Adoption. She placed her son for adoption eight years ago and hopes to use her experience to support and educate other expectant mothers considering adoption, as well as adoptive families.

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1 Comment

  1. I was adopted in 1954 at age two months out of New York where the records are still sealed. I am grateful that it doesn’t say bastard on my birth certificate but it is weird that it says that the parents who raised me were my birth parents. I wish I knew my birth mother. I thought she would contact the agency i came out of and that when my adoptive parents died in 1998 and 2003, that I would be able to find this woman and maybe some more family. That has not happened and I am reluctant to force the issue for fear of negative results. When my now 39 year old daughter had her first pregnancy at age 15 I did not want her to give the child up. There is a deep wound from not knowing my origins and I did not want that for any relative of mine. I could not work at the Christian organizations that promote adoption because they wanted me to counsel the moms that this was “placing” the child in other arms. I always felt they were giving the child away. I am glad there are open adoptions but I’m sure these are fraught with pain. I am glad you are moving on and writing honestly. I know there are many circumstances in which a child must be given to another family to raise and that that can not always be a relative. I think it is wonderful that my legal parents wanted to adopt. I think it is incredible that my biological mother decided not to have an abortion. I hate abortion and am so glad that there is a better choice.

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