Birthmother Grief: How to Handle the First Year After Placement

Birthmother grief is complicated. It will fade over time, but birthmoms will often experience “waves” of grief or uncertainty, especially within the first few years of adoption. Every mother is different and may not face the same struggles at the same time as others. But, we all have one thing in common: we love our children. We love them enough to sacrifice everything for them. We love them enough to give them opportunities we wish we had. And we love them enough to care for them even when it feels like we can’t care for ourselves.

At first, you may be in a state of denial.

In the first year after your baby is placed in an adoptive home, you will battle many different stages of grief and acceptance.  You may even feel relieved that the adoption is final and you don’t have to worry anymore. This is a normal, even necessary part, of any grieving process. It’s our way of getting through the initial shock of what happened long enough so we can learn to function without the person we love in our everyday life. Your baby will still be with you in your heart and mind, but it will take some time to accept that he or she won’t be fully present in your life.

After the initial shock and denial stage, you will face a wide range of emotions.

Sometimes you will feel genuinely depressed, while other times you’ll feel completely zapped of energy or motivation to even get out of bed. You may become more easily angered or upset. All of these feelings are normal. Not only are you grieving; in addition, your body is healing and causing you pain and discomfort. But, you can’t try to change or avoid these feelings. You have to accept them as they are while ensuring they don’t limit you living life too much. If you feel the need for space, that’s okay. But, try not to push your friends away. You will learn to find a balance between letting out your emotions and not allowing them to control you.

Eventually, you will reach a point of acceptance.

You may still miss your baby; but, you will be able to appreciate their influence in your life and be happy for the life you chose for them. You will start to plan for the future rather than thinking in the past. You will build new relationships and grow personally from the experiences.

Throughout the years you will struggle to overcome the feelings of grief that follow placement. As a birthmother you have every right to express those feelings and grieve at your own pace. The first year will be hard; however, you will become even stronger.

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