Giving up a child for adoption is a very emotionally complicated decision. This will affect the rest of your life in various ways, and it is essential that you begin the grief and healing process even before you give birth. You should prepare so that you can spend the time during your pregnancy and at the hospital caring and loving for the child. Bonding with your child does not mean that you cannot put the baby up for adoption; the attachment you feel is natural and you should experience the happiness that comes with being pregnant and also with choosing the best life for the child.
Doubting your decision to give your child up for adoption will be a prevalent emotion throughout your pregnancy, and these doubts may reappear years after you have chosen adoption. Doubt is essential in evaluating how you feel and why you made your decision. By exploring your feelings of doubt, you will inevitably find comfort in discovering the answers to your questions about your decision.
Even though you made this decision, you are still allowed and should feel a sense of loss. With an unplanned pregnancy, you are faced with three very different decisions, each of which comes with its own set of difficult emotions and lifelong consequences. Learning to acknowledge the emotions you are going through and being prepared to deal with them will help you stay strong and move forward.
During the labor and the relinquishment of the child, you will feel numb and in disbelief that this actually happening to you. You may try to ignore your decision to give up your baby for adoption, and you will try to reason with yourself that you could get another job or find more help from family. The truth is that you are trying to delay reality. It’s your body trying to defend itself against the pain it foresees experiencing once you give the child up for adoption. The loss you feel is real, although it may feel like a dream sometimes. Accepting what has happened is the first step in healing your grief.
Rush of Emotions
After you put your child up for adoption, you will begin to go about your daily life again, and it may seem in public as if nothing has happened. You may even be trying to pretend that everything is fine and that you have moved past your feelings about the adoption. Eventually, you may start to feel overwhelmed by the emotions you have kept pent up inside. You may begin to cry or become angry for no particular reason. You may have trouble sleeping or eating, or you could experience physical pain such as back or head aches.
Your mental state is very connected to your physical well-being, and you need to begin expressing your emotions so that you can resolve the feelings that you have. The anger, sadness, shame and fear you feel will begin to subside and you can experience a sort of calmness that comes from the healing process.
Understanding that you have given up your baby for adoption and that you are the one responsible for signing the relinquishment papers is the next step in the healing process. You must realize that you no longer have parental rights of the child. You may just begin to realize the effects of your decision on your life. You may begin to blame others, who you felt pressured by during the adoption process.
You may have felt powerless during your decision and know you are angry at yourself and those around you who did not support you more. You must accept that you made the best decision for you and your child at that point in time. You cannot change why you gave up your baby, but you can learn to accept your decision and even be happy about the life you gave your child and yourself.
Once you have accepted your decision and moved through the intense emotions associated with giving a child up for adoption, you may begin to dream about the child’s life, about what they look like and how they act. These fantasies are normal and help you to be happy about your decision. You also will begin to experience more controlled and expected emotions. You should expect a certain amount of sadness on holidays or on the child’s birthday.
If you have learned to deal with your sense of loss, you should also feel a certain amount of happiness at knowing that the child is growing up and celebrating these holidays in a joyous way.
You as a birth parent have been through an emotionally trying time and it is essential for your grief process that you begin to rebuild your life and your self-esteem. During the adoption process you may have felt ashamed, guilty and even selfish about giving your child up for adoption. These feelings probably morphed into hurtful words that you directed at yourself and you even might have begun to have thoughts of worthlessness as a human being. You know deep in your heart that you did not choose to put your baby up for adoptionbecause you are selfish; you chose adoption because you wanted something better for your child.
You didn’t just base your decision on what you wanted and what you needed; you made the choice to give your baby up for adoption because you focused on someone else’s needs. You made the decision to realize that you were not ready for this responsibility.
Birthparents have to begin to rebuild their self-esteem at this point and should reach out to friends and family for support. You are worthy of love and respect from others and you deserve to be happy. You have grown during the adoption process and while it will be impossible to forget, you need to move forward with your life and accomplish the things you want.
We do not expect that you will ever forget your child or that the love you have for him or her will dissipate. But if you are aware of the emotional changes you will go through during your pregnancy and after the relinquishment, you will be better prepared to begin the healing process and the rebuilding of your life. Adoption, while a choice, is not an easy decision and no one should expect you to merely be OK because you are the one who made the choice. Life-changing decisions are never easy and you will only be pushing back the inevitable if you do not reflect on your feelings that are the result of the adoption.
We encourage you to stay in contact with the family that you chose to adopt your baby, and pursue an ongoing open adoption.