You are not alone. What you are feeling is normal. You cannot avoid the feelings of grief… you must go through the full experience of it if you wish to have a complete life.
It is generally accepted that there are five established stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance. However, the grief experienced by birthmothers and adoption loss does not seem to follow these steps.
Unlike the grief felt from a death, the loss from adoption can be complicated and even continuous. As life continues, the separation shows more missed opportunities and milestones that one normally shares with one’s children. Many birth mothers were promised that they would “forget”, and the grief spectrum which is necessary for healing was arrested, which then can also stop feelings like anger, joy, and happiness.
Further complicating the situation, some birthmothers have not wanted to think about it and have buried their feelings, never having the opportunity to talk about them. Others deny the loss from adoption separation and cling to a rosy view that they are heroic figures, giving up their child for a better life. Although that may be true, this view denies the grief they are feeling, making it difficult to work through. Still other birthmothers don’t feel the full spectrum of grief until they have an adoption reunion with their children.
Just a couple of decades ago an unwed mother was made to feel shame, disdained and stigmatized. Even now society can look down its nose on her. So it’s no wonder that she would have a host of issues about her identity and self-worth. She often feels that she is a bad mother and undeserving. Issues of self-esteem, depression, and difficulties with relationships can be residual effects of relinquishing her child. It is also common for birth mothers to experience infertility afterward, for reasons currently not understood. Those who have other children often become overprotective.
There are many ethical adoption agencies out there that offer counseling for birthmothers after the birth of their child. Researching and choosing one of these can help prevent feelings of being “talked into” giving up your child.
HOW TO COPE WITH BIRTHMOTHER GRIEF
Remember, you are not alone! There are support groups of women just like you, who are grieving the loss of a child to adoption. Joining one and being able to talk about your experience and hear others will help you to confront and deal with your feelings of grief, so that you can become whole again.