Dear Fellow Reader,
I really liked this posting written by a birth mom from one of my favorite blogs, The story of a Girl. In it she describes her experience of the grief process….I think this post does a great job of refelecting how different each person experiences grief after the adoption process is completed and some healthy ways to cope….I’ve also listed a website with additional resources about the grief process.
Posted by Girl in Monday, November 2nd 2009
I don’t like any of the grief processing steps. This birthmom deal is not at all like I imagined it would be. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change my decision.. I know she was meant to be adopted into her family. It’s just that post-adoption is nothing at all like I thought, not even close. Not worse, not better, just different. I guess all I had to go on was my own imagination at the time! Come to think of it, I don’t know how I pictured it, maybe I didn’t fully, it just seemed much more “do-able” then. It still is, it’s just that every emotion that I think should be next, is always the total opposite in reality. Usually my body starts aching when I am trying to avoid an emotion. I’m just all over the place with my feelings. It’s an overall weird feeling when time goes by and the memory of someone you can see slowly drifting away. It’s like you know that’s supposed to happen and it is how anyone grieves a loss and gets better over time, but I want to fight it inside with all my heart too! Is that self-destructive behavior then? Cause I don’t want to follow the steps anymore in my grief processing pamphlet. I want to just call it a day and set up base at #6 for a while. If I were her(my daughter), I don’t think I would want…yeah I’m sure I wouldn’t want, to be forgotten in the least bit. Even if she resented me for the adoption, I would like her to know I never went a second without thinking about her. But it’s not about holding onto it because I feel guilty and think it will hurt her to move n (that is the common response I get) It’s more selfish than that. Instead I can’t (or it feels I can’t) let go because I think it will hurt ME to do so. If it’s biological, then why try process anything, it’s ingrained in you. Maybe it is inevitable though, the mind just will forget… and that just, well, sucks. That’s my feeling about the dang grief processing model!
How to Cope with Grief…
All birth parents must deal with grief. Many are sad about not being able to raise or have a relationship with their child. Some have said that they eventually adjusted to the loss of the child, but that the pain and grief lasted a very long time. Others have said that life was never the same after placing the child. Birth parents' whole lives are affected. For most birth parents it takes time to move past the initial grief of placing a child for adoption.
Under any circumstances, giving birth is an important event in the life of a woman and her partner. But giving birth knowing that the baby will be placed for adoption adds another dimension.
The birth experiences of women who placed a child for adoption are varied. Jones' book gives many examples. For some, the birth took place in an ugly back room of a maternity home, with very little medical care. For others, it took place in a bright, cheerful hospital with their partner, family, and preselected adoptive parents nearby. For many it was somewhere in between. Some were allowed to see their baby. Some held the baby, named the baby, and were given some time to say goodbye. Others had their baby whisked away by nurses who said it would be easier that way. Some had lots of emotional support, others did not.
Women interviewed by Jones described a number of reactions and emotions after the baby was placed. For some, after recovering physically from giving birth, the reality of what had happened sank in. To make it hurt less, they denied that what they had gone through was important. Other people also acted like it was no big deal and said the mother should just go back to whatever she was doing before she had the baby. Many women did just that.
Some women became angry, either at their parents, their partner, the adoption agency, or "society." They acted out, stole, lied, stayed out late, quit school, or got involved with a bad crowd.
Or, they turned their anger inward and became depressed. They decided that they were absolutely worthless. They believed the people who said they were no good. They started to take drugs, drink a lot of alcohol, or drive carelessly.
Some birth mothers get stuck in this phase for a long time, moving from denial to anger to depression over and over again. Birth mothers who get out of this cycle of emotions usually do so by doing one or more of the following things:
- Going to counseling;
- Talking with supportive family members or friends;
- Attending birth parent support group meetings;
- Writing their feelings down in a story or poem;
- Writing letters, even if they are not sent, to their child;
- Holding a private ceremony each year on their child's birthday.
All of these are positive methods for dealing with grief and accepting the loss.
You should now know that you are not alone and that there are a number of resources available to you.
One Website many have found helpful is