It’s one thing to make an adoption plan for your baby, but a completely different thing to deal with your feelings after the adoption is done.
The range of emotions you might feel after placement is normal. You’ll probably face a roller coaster of emotions, ranging from guilt to relief during and after the adoption process.
One minute you might feel like you did the best thing for your baby and the next you feel lonely and lost.
These five tips can help you cope after adoption placement, no matter how you may be feeling:
1. Connect With Your Birth Mother Counselor
Counseling is available to you not only during your decision-making process but after you place too. Lifetime will connect you with a peer counselor, who can help you work through your emotions and give you the resources you need. Your peer counselor is a woman who also has the experience of making an adoption plan for her baby. Since she’s been where you are right now, she can give you real-life tips.
It really helps to talk with someone who’s been through what you’re going through! Says one birth mom, Jessica: “I talked to a birth mom who placed her baby seven years ago. Because of her support, I knew what to expect after placement. I felt normal because of her; she was able to tell me ‘oh yeah I felt like that too. You aren’t crazy. You’ll get through this.’ She offered me a shoulder to cry on and didn’t judge me.”
2. Lean on Your Adoption Coordinator
Lean on your Adoption Coordinator during this time. She’s here for you and will check in on you too. Just call Lifetime at 1-800-923-6784 anytime of the day or night to connect.
Your Adoption Coordinator will continue to be available and there for you, even after the adoption is completed. Says one birth mother, “Veronica, your check-ins and help through this process have done more for me than I could ever say. Thanks to you, the agency, and my son’s new family I’ve had many happy times this past month.” And another woman says, “Thank you for your help throughout the entire process, and for always helping me! It’s been great having you keep in touch.”
3. Focus on Self-care
Self-care is important for your physical, emotional and mental well-being. It produces positive feelings, which improve your confidence and self-esteem. Self-care is also good for managing stress and getting a healthy work-life balance. For some people, self-care looks like relaxing in a warm bath or meditating. Others enjoy working out, journaling, going on a quick run, or even just meeting a friend for coffee or pedicures. Self-care can provide you a way of healing, day by day.
4. Be Easy on Yourself
Especially in the first year after the adoption, be easy on yourself. Treat yourself as you would treat someone you care about: with kindness and understanding.
Don’t be afraid to express yourself and feel whatever emotions come up. Share them with your peer counselor, Adoption Coordinator, or a supportive friend. Ignoring grief and other painful emotions will just make them worse.
Your adoption grief may come up throughout your life. You can get through it by letting it in and then letting it go.
Be aware of your boundaries and hold to them. This might mean skipping family get-togethers that are triggers for you. Know your limits and stick to them, looking out for yourself and being easy on yourself.
5. Enjoy Your Relationship with Your Baby’s Parents
Having an ongoing relationship with your child’s adoptive family helps you remain a part of your child’s life. Whether you meet up in person, email with his or her parents, or see posts on social media, getting regular updates can provide you with peace of mind.
Talking to the adoptive couple to determine the level of communication and how the relationship will evolve will set everyone up for a good relationship. Sarah, a birth mom, says, “I was grieving the first year after I placed and his adoptive family had trust, sympathy, and boundaries. I loved being with my son and seeing him grow. It was healing for me. I’m still thankful for the time they gave me with him. We’ve developed love and respect for each other.”
We’re not going to lie: your first year after placement might be the hardest. Every birth mom faces this time differently, and it’s normal to feel everything from guilt to hope.
If you need to talk to someone, call Lifetime at 1-800-923-6784.
As Vice President of Lifetime Adoption, Heather Featherston holds an MBA and is passionate about working with those facing adoption, pregnancy, and parenting issues. Heather has conducted training for birth parent advocates, spoken to professional groups, and has appeared on television and radio to discuss the multiple aspects of adoption. She has provided one-on-one support to women and hopeful adoptive parents working through adoption decisions.
Since 2002, she has been helping pregnant women and others in crisis to learn more about adoption. Heather also trains and speaks nationwide to pregnancy clinics to effectively meet the needs of women who want to explore adoption for their child. Today, she continues to address the concerns women have about adoption and supports the needs of women who choose adoption for their child.
As a published author of the book Called to Adoption, Featherston loves to see God’s hand at work every day as she helps children and families come together through adoption.