Adoption is a life-changing event for so many people: the birth mother, the birth father, the adoptive parents, and of course, the child. When we start to think about the effects of adoption on birth mothers, we see that there can be lots of mixed emotions. This is natural.
One common thought is that a woman who chooses to place her baby for adoption is “giving up.” But as Lifetime Adoption founder Mardie Caldwell has written, “adoption comes from a place of love.”
If you’re thinking about adoption, you know this. You have an enormous amount of love for your baby. You have hopes and dreams for your baby, and adoption seems like the best way to give him or her the chance to grow and thrive.
This is not “giving up.” It is a positive step, not a negative one. It’s one of the reasons most adoption professionals have stopped using the phrase “giving up a baby for adoption.”
Another effect of adoption on birth mothers is said to be similar to what’s called the “five stages of grief.” This is a process made famous by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. The stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
Some experts say that a birth mother will go through some or all of these steps or stages. Others argue that this process has not been proven. Still, birth mothers can expect to feel at least some of these emotions.
Birth mothers may feel the grief and loss of their child. These feelings of loss can be a big part of the adoption experience. This may be true for both the birth parents and their other family members if they’re involved. They may all grieve a loss when a child is placed for adoption.
But remember, placing a child for open adoption means that birth parents and adoptive parents can discuss what happens after the adoption. That also means that the birth mother plays a role in her child’s long-term welfare by choosing the adopting parents herself and making a plan for ongoing contact for the future. This can make the grieving process easier.
Dealing With the Effects of Adoption
You will probably continue to feel a range of emotions before, during, and after the adoption. This is why open adoptions are such a positive option. In open adoptions, the adoptive parents and the child continue contact with the birth mother.
Birth mothers may also feel comforted and helped with licensed counseling and peer support. Lifetime Adoption provides these things and more with no charge for the birth mother. We also encourage women to read some of our birth mother stories.
When you place your baby for adoption with Lifetime, you will also have access to lots of resources. This includes peer support from women who have placed their child for adoption. They can help you make sense of your thoughts and feelings and tell you what to expect.
This is our adoption peer support group made up of moms just like you who have gone through the adoption process. One of the effects of adoption on birth mothers is that you will face complex emotions: perhaps sadness and uncertainty. Again, these are all normal, and our peer support network can help you discuss and understand these feelings.
For example, one of our birth mothers, Jessica, said that after talking with a peer that she “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,'” Jessica says. “She offered me a shoulder to cry on and didn’t judge me.”
Peer support is available for free to women considering adoption. There is no obligation to continue with adoption, even if you use our services. You can receive support throughout the adoption process.
You will have lots of questions, and we will have lots of answers! It is OK to be unsure of what to do next. This can be a very scary time.
The good news is that in modern open adoptions, pregnant women just like you are in charge of the adoption plan and the adoption process. You will choose the family to adopt your baby. You will make decisions about your body. You will decide how much support you want — if any at all.
Truth is, many women feel the effects of adoption — grief, feeling like they “gave up” — but they eventually may feel a sense of relief, along with happiness and peace with their decision.
Again, we like when birth mothers take advantage of our resources, especially birth mother videos like this one where you can see and hear how a mom came to terms with her choice.
All your conversations with us will be private and confidential. We are here to help. You can get in touch with us at any time. Our caring adoption coordinators are here for you.
Lifetime Adoption has been helping birth mothers through the open adoption process since 1986. We are here when you need us. To get started and speak with a caring adoption coordinator, please contact us today by calling or texting 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.