Pregnancy brings with it a multitude of changes. Your hormones, your body, and your emotions are on a bit of a roller coaster, and it can be hard to process at times. And after birth, the hormones are still going wild as they adjust back to the new normal.
It’s very common for the “baby blues” or postpartum depression (PPD) to impact women after they give birth. And combining that with placing your child for adoption can add to the feelings that you’re experiencing.
After giving birth and placing your child with their new family, you will likely feel a combination of emotions. Some of these emotions may include grief at not raising your baby and joy knowing that he or she will grow up with the loving parents that you picked.
You may feel a lot of highs and lows – especially feelings of sadness – that you can’t control. This postpartum situation won’t last forever. And just because you have those feelings doesn’t mean you have made the wrong decision in choosing adoption.
How do you know if you have postpartum depression? These are some of the common signs:
- Depressed mood
- Severe mood swings
- Extreme crying
- Social withdrawal
- Changes in sleep patterns and appetite
- Anger or irritability
- Feelings of guilt or shame
It is important to recognize these symptoms of possible postpartum depression and know the differences between these and the normal process of post-adoption grief. Both of these things can feel similar and may be overwhelming or intense at times.
Know that postpartum depression is often hormonal, and you can talk to your doctor about treatment options right away. Grief is a normal part of the time after adoption, and working through it with your coordinator and a counselor will help you understand which is which.
It’s important to note that not every mother will experience mood disorders or mental health disturbances, such as depression symptoms or anxiety disorders. But mental health care is always something that you should think about and be aware of, just in case.
Here are some helpful tips on how to best cope with these feelings.
1. Talk through your feelings with the experts.
The adoption counselors at Lifetime Adoption are on your side. We work with you to provide emotional support and the counseling you need throughout your pregnancy, adoption placement, and beyond.
We will help prepare you for some of the feelings you’ll have after delivery and give you some tools so you can cope. In addition, your doctor will also be able to help rule out clinical depression. And if you do have postpartum depression, your doctor can help with treatment options.
2. Utilize your support system.
Building an adoption support system is important. Knowing which people in your life, whether it’s family members, friends, or our team at Lifetime Adoption, you trust and can rely on, is an important part of coming through the adoption process in a healthy way.
If you are struggling with the grief process, one of the best things you can do is talk to one of Lifetime’s peer counselors. Our peer support program allows you to speak to another woman who has gone through a similar experience with postpartum depression after adoption.
Lifetime is here for you 24/7. We can help you find resources and ways to handle any stress you may feel.
3. Be confident in your open adoption choice.
Choosing an open adoption means that you will be able to maintain contact with your child and their adoptive parents. Knowing this can put your mind at ease and help reassure you if you’re feeling any doubt or guilt about your adoption decision. Remember, choosing adoption is difficult, but it is an incredibly selfless and loving choice.
Some women want a little break from that contact to get through the grief and physical healing process. That’s okay! Even if it’s just a few days to focus on your needs, let your coordinator know if you are struggling. She can help with specific ideas just for you.
Grief and postpartum depression after adoption are nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. Help is available, and it’s normal that you might need some extra support at this time.
Your adoption coordinator will help answer any questions you have. She’s also here to help ensure that you have an adoption plan that works exactly how you want it to.
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.