Effects of Adoption on Birth Mothers

by | Sep 25, 2020 | Birth Parent Blog

Young woman walking on a sidewalk in a downtown areaAdoption 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.”

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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.

Peer Support

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.

Your Decision

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.

Call us or text us whenever you are ready. Our 24-hour talk/text number is 1-800-923-6784. All our adoption services are free to you, the birth mother. And there is no obligation to choose adoption.

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.

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Heather Featherston

Written by Heather Featherston

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.

Read more about Heather Featherston

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  1. Patricia Costantino

    Where can a women (my daughter) who placed her baby for adoption years ago find help with the loss and grief that she still feels.

    Look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.

    • Lifetime Adoption

      Hi Patty,
      Thank you for reaching out on behalf of your daughter. Visiting the organization BirthMom Buds is a great place to start. They can be found online at BirthmomBuds.com. BirthMom Buds provides support to both birth mothers and pregnant women considering adoption through their many services and programs. Their programs include live support, forums, chats, a buddy system, and an annual retreat for birth mothers.

  2. Jessica Yadon

    How can I get my sister to stop being jealous of my daughter and my relationship. She adopted her when I was in prison and I didn’t get a chance to fight. It is an open adoption. My sister said she would never take my child away and now she is jealous and doesn’t let me see her much. She supervises and I never had a CPS case issue or anything related to my child. I’m heartbroken that my sister is hurting us. I need advice please

    • Lifetime Adoption

      Kinship adoption (adoption of a family member) can be one of the most difficult open adoption relationships to navigate. There are more layers of connection because of the family bonds, and often, like perhaps in your case, expectations (frequency of visits, time spent together, etc.) weren’t clearly established at the onset.

      In a modern, open adoption, visits with the birth mother are more “family” visits, with the adoptive parents staying there too. Everyone may get together for lunch and a trip to the park, or maybe a day at an amusement park. It isn’t visitation like in a divorce where the child goes to the other parent for a few days. It is typically “supervised”, in that the adoptive parents don’t leave. It is more a time for everyone to be together. And, it takes place usually once or twice a year. In very open adoptions, it may be quarterly.

      I would talk to your sister and set up some scheduled visits as well as a plan. You didn’t mention how old your daughter is, but it could be that she is at an age where she is struggling with understanding the relationships. And there are times in open adoption, that the adoptive parents need to pull back for the best interest of the child’s well-being for a time. As your child becomes a teenager, she will have a voice in the frequency of visits and the relationship too.

      Communication and setting expectations is key to a successful open adoption relationship. If you need a mediator, bring in a counselor who can help. But with clear, communicated expectations, everyone can be on the same page, always keeping your daughter’s best interest in mind.


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