Waiting Families News
Helping Your Child, Helping Your Birth Mother
The waiting time is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about adoption and some of the issues that may need your attention as your child grows. We hope you use this as a learning tool to enhance your adoption journey preparation. Don’t forget, after you have read and reviewed this material, log onto www.myadoptionportal.com to complete a summary in the Domestic Education section.
Understanding Grief and Loss
Many of us have the misconception that adopting an infant spares that child from feeling grief and loss, “He is young enough and so won’t remember the loss.” But, even those children who come right home from the hospital with the adoptive couple have experienced loss. There is pain and hurt and loss in relinquishment, and that is where your child’s story will start…not at adoption. ADOPTION IS A BEAUTIFUL THING…but it is important to recognize that it is also born out of brokenness. We cannot forget the relinquishment part of our child’s story, or we miss the very beginning of who he or she is.
To better understand watch this powerful video from Dr. Karen Purvis on What Every Adoptive Parent Should Know
Learning to cope with grief and loss is not something that a child or family does once. Even if it is grieved over, a loss does not disappear. It may be revisited over and over throughout adolescence and into adulthood. By understanding and accepting the losses that are an inevitable component of adoption and employing strategies to deal with them, you, your child, and your family will be stronger.
Birth Parent Grief
Birth parent grief is a common occurrence – birth mothers especially need to grieve the loss of their baby. Shortly after the birth, a birth parent may go through a period of numbness before the intensity of grief kicks in. At some point – often when a baby is between six months and two years old – the birth mother may withdraw from the adoptive parents because of her grief, or because she is not sure whether she is still welcome.
While your focus will, understandably, be on the baby, it’s important to send your child’s birth mother a “thinking of you” note, baby pictures, or a report of the baby’s milestones during this time. This can help her feel cared about and can reassure her that the baby is doing well. Many birth parents say that such gestures helped them through the grieving process.
Following a period of emotional chaos and grief, most birth mothers reach a level of acceptance in their lives. As your child’s birth mother becomes more at peace with her decision, she may gain renewed energy for her current life, and more clarity about her role as a birth parent and her relationship to you.
To help your child’s birth mother move through the difficult period after birth:
- Ask her how she feels. Be aware of the stages of grief – shock and denial; sorrow and depression; anger; guilt; and acceptance – and realize that her feelings are complex.
- Stay in touch. Even if you never hear from your child’s birth mother, keep sending pictures and letters. She may be in an emotional state where she can’t respond, but she will appreciate your efforts.
- Don’t give up. Sometimes, birth mothers don’t want to overstep their boundaries, so they don’t call or write, even if they’re thinking of you. If you have gone weeks or months with no contact, go ahead and break the ice. If you don’t feel comfortable doing so, ask a third party (your agency or counselor) to tell your child’s birth mother that you’re thinking of her.
Check out this Reference:
When Birth Moms get the Blues, by Joni Mantell, LCSW, Adoptive Families
Review these additional Resources