What follows is a partial list of feelings to expect as a birth mother after adoption. The reason it’s a partial list is that you may feel other emotions that you don’t see here. These emotions aren’t necessarily in a particular order, and you might never feel some of them. The purpose of this article is to help birth mothers know what to expect after they place a child for adoption. It’s also meant to be helpful, hopefully, in showing you that your feelings are normal. Most important, it should illustrate that you are not alone.
Hopeful about the future and excited for the adoptive parents
Many women feel a sense of relief after their baby is born. The end of pregnancy can be difficult and anticipating how it will feel to deliver and place your baby for adoption can create anxiety. As a result, immediately after birth, some women feel a sense of relief. Other feelings to expect as a birth mother after adoption is excitement and positivity. A birth mother might even feel excited for the adoptive parents. Some women report feeling ready to get going with their life and to prove to themselves that adoption was the right choice. Many women report feeling hopeful about their future, and proud of their adoption journey.
Sadness and grief and hope
There are so many different levels of sadness or grief that a birth mother might feel. For some, the sadness starts before delivery, anticipating the adoption. For others, the sadness doesn’t start until they are home and resting. Some women report feeling sad when they reach milestones, like Mother’s day, or their baby’s birthday. The length and extent of the sadness and grief, and moving on from it, is largely dependent on a birth mother’s support system and how she handles grief. Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to feel your grief and sadness completely, to process it and let it out rather than hold it in. Airing it with family and friends or a counselor, can speed your recovery. Many birth mothers report that once the hormones after delivery calm down, they wake up one morning feeling better. Feeling this ease from sadness can bring hope for the future.
Motivated to move forward
Placing a child for adoption isn’t an easy choice. Birth mothers who go through this experience frequently describe it as an emotional rollercoaster. Nothing really compares to the experience and nothing can adequately prepare a woman for it. As a result, getting through the adoption can be an incredibly empowering experience for some women. Other feelings to expect as a birth mother after adoption are pride and motivation. It’s not uncommon to feel proud and ready to take on the next challenge. Some women feel extra motivated to start pursuing their dreams, to be the person their child can be proud of.
Resentment towards family and friends and the adoptive parents
Shortly after the adoption, and usually within the first year, some birth mothers feel resentment toward the people around them. This can stem from feeling like others have forgotten what she has been through. The resentment might also be a result of feeling like life is unfair, and that she is the only one suffering. It’s not uncommon for women to resent their baby’s father for not stepping up. They might resent the fact that the adoption is harder for her than it is for him, and that’s unfair. Resentment sounds like a negative emotion, or that it might reflect poorly on a birth mother. The truth is that resentment is a common response to adoption. Like sadness and grief, it’s important to get the resentment out. Talk with someone about it and process the feeling fully. In doing so, you can potentially let the resentment go and heal and move forward.
Anger at yourself and baby’s father
Some birth mothers report feeling really angry with themselves. This can be a confusing emotion. Being angry isn’t regret, and it doesn’t mean you made the wrong choice. When women report feeling angry, they typically explain that they feel angry at themselves. This anger is usually related to the choices that led up to the pregnancy and the circumstances that led her to choose adoption. She might feel angry at herself that she didn’t make better life choices. Feeling anger is a common emotion when experiencing grief. Like other difficult emotions, the best way to deal with them is to talk about them. Get those hard feelings out by talking with someone. It’s difficult to let go and move on when you bury emotions. They need to be felt and experienced so you can move forward.
Birth mothers can feel isolated from the people they love or the friend group they once were close with. Some women aren’t comfortable talking about the adoption. Others are comfortable talking about it, but they might not want to discuss it right away. During this time of self-reflection and healing, some birth mothers feel isolated. They feel like others just don’t understand what they have been though. They might also feel like they don’t know how to describe what they’ve been through. Rather than attempting to talk about it, they shut the feelings inside and isolate themselves to protect themselves. This is when it’s really important to be proactive. Take time for self-care, but also take time to be with good friends or family. If you’re feeling isolated and don’t see a way out, I strongly recommend that you speak with a grief counselor.
Depression is common feeling to expect as a birth mother after adoption. Many women feel depressed after they deliver a baby, whether they are doing an adoption or not. Post partum depression can affect anyone at anytime. Sometimes you won’t feel symptoms for a year or so after baby is born. Of course the emotions around making an adoptive placement can lead to depression as well. This is absolutely normal. If you believe you are depressed (sleeping a lot, not enjoying activities you used to enjoy, angry outbursts), I strongly recommend that you get treatment. Depression after having a baby is very common and there are many treatment options available to you. Letting depression go untreated can lead to other serious conditions. This includes chronic insomnia, drug and alcohol addiction, and generally poor health.
Do you want to talk about feelings to expect as a birth mother?
This isn’t a full list of emotions you might be experiencing, and maybe you haven’t felt most of these. Maybe you’re having other emotions that are confusing. I’m here for you just to listen if that’s helpful. Use the contact form below to reach me directly today.