Yes, I’m a birth mother and I can tell you what emotions to expect when you give a baby up for adoption. There are so many different feelings a woman goes through, and these might include:
- Guilt: “Did I make the right decision?”
- Sadness: “I miss my baby.”
- Confused Relief: “Should I feel relief?”
- Hope: “I believe my baby will have a wonderful future and I can still be part of it.”
- Loss: “I feel alone and empty.”
It is common for a mother to feel some or all of these emotions when she is giving a baby up for adoption. If you are feeling any or all of these things, please know that you are not wrong, weird, or different.
Understand that you need to experience and process your emotions in order to work through them
Don’t be afraid to express and feel whatever emotions come up. If you are supporting a birth mother through the process, remind her that she has value and worth, and how important her own life is, in addition to the life she gave to her birth baby. Ignoring grief, and other difficult emotions, makes them fester and persist. One way to support her is to help her to identify what emotions to expect when you give a baby up for adoption.
Encourage her to face it so she can heal. Remember that grief can resurface throughout our lives, just as grief resurfaces when we think of friends we’ve lost touch with or people who have died. We get through it by letting it in and eventually letting it go. Allow her to do the same.
Be there for her during this difficult time. Don’t forget her.
A woman who is giving a baby up for adoption is a selfless, courageous woman. She is willing to make huge personal sacrifices in order to provide the life and future she dreams of for her child. It takes tremendous strength and courage to put a child first and to do what she believes in her heart is best for her child.
It’s important to support these strong women through the process. Offer to listen, but don’t give advice. Be a shoulder to cry on, but don’t judge.
People often believe that, once the decision is made, a birth mother is always at peace with her decision. They wrongly believe that she’s ready to move forward with a clean slate, putting it all “behind her.”
Rarely does a woman put her child “behind her,” though. A birth mother carries her child forever in her heart, along with some level of guilt, sadness, longing, questions, and wondering whether she truly made the right choice. She will never forget her child. Show her that you haven’t forgotten either.
Remember her on Mother’s Day, her baby’s birthday, and all of the other special occasions that come up through a child’s life. On these days, all you have to say is you are thinking of her, and she will know what you are talking about. Give her room to feel what she needs to feel.
Ask for help when you need it.
Many women feel isolated after placing a child for adoption. If you are such a mother, reach out to your support network, friends, family or a counselor. Tell them you are struggling so you can get support. Ask for help when you need it.
If you are supporting a woman as she processes her grief, keep asking how she’s doing. Help her find support from a therapist experienced with birth mothers, as well as other birth mothers who are going through the same thing, if she wants. While support from family and friends are invaluable in getting through the grieving process, those who are familiar with her situation, or have been through it, can offer a special kind of comfort.