For adoptive parents, the process of bringing a new child into their family is primarily a happy one. For birth parents, however, the emotions experienced during the adoption process can be more complex.
Regardless of your specific situation, the adoption process can trigger a number of strong emotions because you are, in a sense, "losing" a child. When it comes to your emotions, it doesn't necessarily matter whether the pregnancy was unplanned or you are excited to place your baby with a loving adopted family. The intense emotions you experience may surprise you.
In this blog, we list six of the common emotions birth mothers may feel during this transitional period.
In cases of unplanned pregnancy, it's common for women to fall into a state of shock when they first receive the news. While you're in shock, you may have trouble processing the details of your situation or accepting the difficult decision you now have to make.
When the initial shock passes, you may feel a strong wave of complex emotions that can be overwhelming. In some cases, this rush of emotions may be so overpowering that women experience denial.
When you're in shock or denial, you may spend a lot of time thinking along the lines of "this can't be happening" or "this isn't my life." During this period, it's important to reach out to people who care about you, can anchor you to the realness of the situation, and support you in your upcoming decisions.
2. Anxiety or Uncertainty
As a birth mother, you have numerous decisions to make. You not only must decide whether or not to proceed with adoption in the first place but also may need to choose an adoptive family, decide on a closed or open adoption, and make many other smaller decisions.
It's normal to want to do what's best for you and for your baby yet struggle with your decisions. Some birth mothers experience high levels of anxiety and uncertainty, which can be alleviated with the help of an expert adoption representative's help.
Unplanned pregnancy can produce guilt or shame for some women. These feelings are particularly common when the woman feels a moral or societal obligation to abstain from sexual activity. If you feel guilt related to your religion or morals, seek counsel with a trusted authority figure.
Some women may also feel guilt when they begin to consider adoption because they feel obligated to raise their children themselves. If you experience this type of shame, it may help to join a support group for birth parents to discuss your feelings with other people in your situation.
4. Anger and Sadness
Many birth mothers go through the stages of grief when they give a baby up for adoption, even if they feel certain that they're making the right decision. You may experience anger. For example, you may ask why this happened to you or feel frustrated at the decisions placed before you.
You may feel sadness at the same time or after your feelings of anger. You may wish circumstances were different.
It's important to seek support from loved ones and a professional counselor to work through these negative emotions, especially if you have a history of anger issues or of depression.
For many women, the possibility of adoption represents hope. The other decisions available to you may seem unacceptable, such as with pregnancy termination, or untenable, such as with single parenthood.
When you reach out to an adoption center or attorney, you may begin to feel a sense of positivity and hope as you look to the future.
6. Relief and Acceptance
Many birth mothers come out of the adoption process feeling a sense of closure. You may feel a strong sense of relief, especially if an unplanned child posed a significant financial or social burden.
Your feelings of closure could also be as simple as a sense of acceptance knowing that you made the best decision you could.
No one can predict when closure will come. For many birth mothers, these happy, peaceful emotions begin to move to the forefront as soon as the adoption process begins. For others, the feelings may change only after they receive confirmation that their children are living happy lives in loving homes.
Giving a baby up for adoption can be emotionally rigorous, even when you know you're doing the right thing for yourself, your child, and your child's adoptive family. It's important to allow yourself the time and opportunity to process your complex emotional response to this experience.
A birth-mother specialist can help you stay on top of the logistics of your baby's adoption, regardless of which emotions come your way. Additionally, these specialists can help you find professional counseling to ensure that you find closure and peace at the end of the adoption process. Contact A Child’s Dream to start working with a specialist.