Your adoption story doesn’t just end after you leave the hospital or when the adoption becomes final. Adoption is a lifelong journey that’s just starting now. While it’ll take a few weeks to recover physically from giving birth, the emotional recovery can be a whole other story. Many birth mothers find that the first few weeks are very difficult, and face post-adoption grief. Emotions are raw, and the feelings of grief are intense.
It’s totally normal to feel sad after your adoption plan happens, and your child is with their adoptive family. Today, Lifetime is sharing a general timeline of what to expect in the first year after placement. Keep in mind that every woman’s experience with adoption is going to be different; no two grieving processes are the same.
The First Few Days
- Post-partum depression
- Crying every day (that’s OK!)
- Lots of thinking about your baby
- You long to hold your baby
- You might be stressed out about how your baby’s doing
By 6 Weeks
- To dull the pain, you might feel like drinking or doing drugs
- Almost anything can make you cry
- You may wonder if you made the right decision in placing your baby for adoption and if the adoptive couple can be trusted
- Feeling tired and depressed
- Feeling proud of yourself for choosing adoption – you start to think you’ll be OK
By 3 Months
- You still think about your baby often, but with less sadness
- Beginning to feel hopeful about your future
By 6 Months
- Adjusting to the fact of adoption
- You may find that a whole day goes by without thinking about your baby, and you might wonder if you’re forgetting about him
A Year After the Adoption
- You might feel sadness, regret, and anger at a level you didn’t anticipate
- At your baby’s first birthday, you’ll remember all you’ve been through
- Starting to become more aware that your life will never be the same
- Beginning to get your life “back on track” and thinking about your future
Post-Adoption Grief Counseling at No Cost to You
Lifetime Adoption has helped many birth mothers walk through post-adoption grief. We understand the difficult emotions that occur after placing your child for adoption. Even if you know you made the right decision about adoption for your child, you may still feel some sadness.
Lifetime Adoption offers counseling from an independent counselor and/or peer counseling, no matter where you’re at in your adoption plan. We encourage you to take advantage of this post-adoption support after your baby’s adoption plan happens. You might face a bunch of emotions that you weren’t expecting, and it can really help to speak with somebody. Talking with a woman who’s made an adoption plan before and “been there, done that” can help you learn what to expect.
Contact in Open Adoption
Many birth moms have found that it helped them to get updates, emails, and photos from the adoptive couple. With open adoption, you get updates on your child as they grow up. You might even choose to visit in person with them. We recommend that you exchange photos and emails with the adoptive couple if you feel comfortable with it, and it’s something you need.
Some women don’t want to hear from the adoptive family right after the adoption, but later decide that they need to know how their child is doing. Others need photos and emails right away, but decide they’re OK with the amount of contact reducing later on. It’s up to you. No two grieving and healing processes will be the same.
Please call or text Lifetime Adoption at 1-800-923-6784 if you need counseling, have questions, or even just if you need to talk.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on February 9, 2018, and has since been updated.
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.