Impact of Adoption on Birth Parents

Hello Bloggers!

The following blog discusses some feelings that tend to emerge in many birth parents when going through the adoption process. Although these feelings are not always the same for everyone, there are a few that are more common than others.

Each parent faces a very unique experience in giving their child up for adoption. It is nearly impossible to generalize all of these experiences and feelings, however research indicates the emergence of a few themes.

In response to the adoption placement it is common for the birth parent (s) to grieve the loss of the child. This may begin with the pregnancy, after the birth mother has committed to placing the child. As the birthparent(s) prepare to be separated from their child, they plan for a great sense of loss;  however, in giving the child up for adoption, they hope that not only does the child have a better life, but they too have a better life.

When the child is born and physical separation takes place, the birth parents may have feelings of doubt, guilt, and regret. It is also common for the birth parents to feel numb, in shock, and/or in denial. Although these are similar emotional responses to death, it is different in that there is rarely a public acknowledgment, and friends and family of the birth parents may attempt to ignore the loss by pretending that nothing has happened. Because of this, finding support can sometimes be challenging, especially if family members or friends were not supportive of the decision in the first place. 

Research suggests that, "When birth parents first deal with their loss, the grief may be expressed as denial. The denial serves as a buffer to shield them from the pain of the loss. This may be followed by sorrow or depression as the loss becomes more real. Anger and guilt may follow, with anger sometimes being directed at those who helped with the adoption placement. The final phases, those of acceptance and resolution, refer not to eliminating the grief permanently but to integrating the loss into ongoing life.

  Placing a child for adoption may also cause other (secondary) losses, which may add to the grief that birth parents feel. No one fantasizes about having a baby and then giving it up, so expectant parents who are planning to place the child for adoption may grieve for the loss of their parenting roles. They may grieve for the person their child might have become as their son or daughter. These feelings of loss may re-emerge in later years, for instance, on the child's birthday, or when the child is old enough to start school or to reach other developmental milestones.

 At first, there may be shame associated with the unplanned pregnancy itself and with admitting the situation to parents, friends, co-workers, and others. Shame about the pregnancy may lead to feelings of unworthiness or incompetence about becoming a parent. Once the child is born, the decision to place the child for adoption may prompt new feelings of guilt about 'rejecting' the child, no matter how thoughtful the decision or what the circumstances of the adoption."

This may all seem very overwhelming but knowing that other birthparents have gone through similar experiences may also be reassuring and comforting. It is important to remember that there are many ways to cope with these feelings and overcome those that bring you down.

See the following link on how to gain control over these emotions:

http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/f_impact/f_impacta.cfm

 

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