Giving birth is an intense and emotional experience for every mother, but quite especially for a birth mother. The days after are even more difficult. The birth experience of a birth mom is quite unique and the process of coping afterwards is very challenging. The grieving process is a normal, yet infrequently mentioned, part of adoption. Every birth mother, no matter if they are completely certain and enthusiastic about their decision, will experience a similar grief. Dealing with that grief will take time and support.
The Hospital: From Birth to Placement
As the birth mother, you have control during the birth and the subsequent days preceding placement. This means getting the chance to decide how you bring your baby into the world and how you would like to spend your time with your baby before you place them with their adoptive parents. There are many decisions to be made during this short amount of time; and depending on your relationship with the adoptive parents, these decisions may be made solely up to you.
Depending on the type of adoption, birth mothers have the right to decide who they want in the delivery room, if they choose to breastfeed while in the hospital, and how much time they want or don’t want to spend with the baby. They also have the right to keep all hospital items, including bracelets worn by the baby, bassinet announcement cards, blankets, pictures, etc. Every situation is different and some birth mothers may choose to have the adoptive parents involved every step of the way. Remember, you can always change your mind. If you initially chose to not see the baby after birth, you can always be taken to the nursery or have the nurse bring the baby to you. If you initially chose to have the adoptive parents there during the delivery, you can always ask them to wait outside. It is important to communicate to your caseworker, adoptive parents and the hospital staff what your boundaries and preferences are, and to keep them in the loop with any changes.
During this time, the birth mother will consider whether she wants to continue with her plan or if she wants to change her mind. If the birth mother decides to proceed as planned, she will have the opportunity to say goodbye to her baby. As the birth mother, you will get to choose how you go about this. Some women choose to spend the last day in the hospital with no visitors in order to spend as much time together as possible. Some women even have a placement ceremony where they invite friends and family to witness the handing over. Some women videotape the moment for a special memory. Whatever the decision, communicate with the adoptive parents and let them know your wishes. It’s important to note that in some closed adoption cases, the birth mother will have limited time with the baby after birth. Talk to your adoption social worker to clarify what the terms of your adoption are.
Dealing with Grief
The grief that birth mothers feel is complex. The grief of a birth mom is said to be a continuous grief. After an adoption, life continues on as normal. Many birth mothers often are not able to take the time to process their grief. One cannot avoid the emotional trauma and continue to live their normal lives. Grief is not pretty or easy, but the only way to deal with grief and loss is to experience all the emotions fully, both positive and negative.
Adoption is a lifelong journey and with it come many challenges and emotions. The decision to place a baby for adoption is a life-changing decision. But even with the challenges and emotions, being open and honest can make this lifelong journey a positive and fulfilling one.
Have confidence in yourself and your decision. At the end of the day, your decision to place your baby for adoption was made with the knowledge that the adoptive family can and will give your baby things you may not have been able to provide. Choosing adoption for your baby is the most selfless act. Being active in your adoption plan, including choosing the family, deciding on a contact agreement, and planning your birth, will help you feel confident. Every adoption plan is unique and should be tailored to how you feel you will be able to cope best afterwards.
Most importantly, allow yourself to be emotional. Cry if you feel like crying. The feeling of loss may not ever go away but holding back tear will only exacerbate the negative feelings. Do not feel silly or unreasonable for crying. Even if you are confident in your decision and would not change a thing, you will still have days where you will feel so sad you can’t get out of bed. Let yourself feel your emotions, no matter what they are. Take it one day at a time.
Lastly, it is incredibly important to find support during this time. Having your family there for you during the birth process and afterwards will make a huge difference in your mental health. Unfortunately, many women go through adoption alone. But even if you don’t have family to support you, there are many resources and support groups available to help. Adoption may be a long journey, but you do not need to go through it alone.
Adoption Choices of Nevada
If you are currently in the process of adopting a baby and have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact, Adoption Choices of Nevada. You may visit the website here or contact us by 775-825-4673 (Reno Office) or 702-474-4673 (Las Vegas Office). Our hours are Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm PST.
Make an Impact
Adoption Choices, Inc. is partnering with Crowdrise, a fundraising website for nonprofits, to help our adoptive parents and birth parents with much needed financial assistance. We understand that expenses keep clients from fulfilling their dreams. Both with birth parents making a plan for adoption, and with adoptive parents growing their family. It is our mission to provide financial assistance through grants and scholarships, awarded annually in November, in honor of National Adoption Month. Funds assist adoptive parents with matching and placements, adoption finalization and helping birth mothers improve their lives through higher education — and much more.
However, we can’t do it alone. Please read up on our programs and donate money where you are able. Your donation will make a huge impact.
About the Author
Devon Thornton is a graduate of the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor’s in Creative Writing. She has recently moved from Orlando, FL to Clarksville, TN, and is pursuing her writing career with Adoption Choices and also writing personal essays in her free time. Devon is an avid reader and a big Harry Potter fan.
When she’s not curled up reading a book, you can find her somewhere on a hike or a camping trip. She loves her cat, Minerva, and considers herself a true animal lover. She hopes one day to publish a book of essays and to maybe meet J.K. Rowling.
Adoptions Together. “Placing a Baby for Adoption and Your Hospital Stay |.” Adoptions Together, Adoptions Together, 7 Aug. 2018, www.adoptionstogether.org/blog/2018/08/01/what-all-birth-moms-should-know-about-the-hospital-stay/.
“Birth and Adoption Placement.” Texas Adoption | Adoption Choices of Texas, 19 Feb. 2019, www.adoptionchoicesoftexas.org/birth-and-adoption-placement/.
“Navigating Life After Adoption: 9 Tips for Birth Parents.” Life After Adoption | 9 Tips for Birth Parents | Adoptions With Love, 20 July 2016, adoptionswithlove.org/birth-parents/life-after-adoption.