The best day of one woman’s life, may be the worst day of another’s.
“There are two different kinds of strength. There’s the strength to make a parenting plan and then there’s the strength to give that plan to another.” – Unknown
Birth Mothers do experience grief and not to acknowledge it would be unfair to those experiencing grief and negligent on behalf of society. To understand birth mother/birth father grief is to acknowledge part of the process of adoption. Adoption is a beautiful choice for an unplanned pregnancy, but it is never an easy one. Especially for the woman who resembles the tree trunk of adoption; without a birth mother there is no adoptee and no adoptive parents.
Grief and loss in adoption is something that is not often talked about, but is needs to be for so many reasons. Adoption is beautiful, but with every high there is a low. Grief can be outlined in stages, and stages of grief are not always experienced sequentially and can be revisited as well.
Kübler-Ross outlines the Stages of Grief as :
An example of one of the times a birth mother will experience grief during her adoption journey is when labor and delivery occurs.
- Denial: After a birth mother delivers her baby, often times her adoption decision may manifest in denial, shock and numbness. Initially, her first response is often is trying to comprehend and cope with the actuality that she has given birth and the adoption plan she has made becomes not just a plan but a reality. The best prepared birth mothers; those that have had counseling, family and friend support and have had nothing but a positive adoption journey, can still struggle at this point.
- Anger: After labor and delivery; the birthmother may be angry and want to be alone with the baby, angry at the world for the situation she is in; the reasons she is placing the baby for adoption, angry that the adoptive family will get to raise her baby and she isn’t able to.
- Bargaining: What happens in this stage of grief may vary significantly among birth mothers. This is stage where a birth mother may revisit her adoption plan and temporarily explore other options.
- Depression: When the depression stage hits birth mothers, this is where birth mothers feel like the roof on their world is collapsing. This is when birth mothers normally exhibit one or more of the following: tears, numbness, exhaustion, indescribable sadness, hopelessness and panic and/or anxiety.
- Acceptance: The acceptance stage is comparable to the sun rising after a rainstorm. This stage of acceptance may be one that comes and goes. When a birth mother reaches this stage she may experience the following; peace in her adoption decision, happiness for the adoptive family, moving forward in her own life, look forward to her future and comfort in talking with other birth mothers.
Birth mothers’ grief; what we need to know:
Understanding that grief is part of the adoption journey and she needs to be helped through it.
- She needs to:
- Work through the stages of grief
- Embrace and understand what she is going through
- Learn her triggers
- Find coping methods
- Be provided with counseling
- Ideally a counselor who has experience with adoption or at least one who specializes in grief & loss.
- Join a birth mother support group.
- When depression takes over, doing things like getting out of bed, taking a shower become insurmountable. That’s when she has to make herself get up and take that shower, put her makeup on, do her hair. Start to feel better about herself.
- Exercise after she has received medical clearance to do so.
- If she feels that she is not improving – she needs to seek medical help immediately.
- She can try to engage in her normal activities that have previously brought her joy; read a book, go to the movies, go for coffee with friends
- Join a Birth Mother Community
- The Birth Mother Community can be described as other birth mothers; women that have walked the birth mother adoption road.
- She needs to:
At the Donna K. Evans Foundation, our number one goal is to empower, elevate and assist women in believing that they matter, their adoption choice matters and that negative life cycles can stop. We believe in the power of hope, promise and the will to succeed. As a community of adoption supporters, it is critical to support life and the power of it. Being a believer in life does not have to stop at the birth of a baby, but continues through the life of the birth mother.
The Donna K. Evans Foundation
8433 N. Black Canyon Highway Building 6, Suite 158 Phoenix, AZ 85021 (602) 595-8592