"...whoever welcomes a child like this.... welcomes Me."
Birth Mother Grief
It is only natural for a birth mother to experience a sense of loss when she chooses to give a child up for adoption. The grieving process is not a bad thing. Though difficult, it is healthy for the birth mom to allow herself to feel that pain. Still, that doesn’t make the pain any less real for both the birth mom and the adoptive parents.
Adoptive mothers may find themselves empathizing so much with the birth mom that they are unable to experience the joy a new child brings them. This is particularly true when the biological parents and the adoptive parents become close to one another prior to the adoption. Adoptive mothers may feel guilt at their own happiness when they realize just what a sacrifice the birth mom has made.
Adoptive parents should remember that, while the grief is very real, it doesn’t diminish the reason the birth parents chose adoption. Likewise, a birth mother that chooses open adoption does not have to stay separated from the child indefinitely, as is the case with closed adoptions. This ability to see the child grow and thrive makes the grief process easier to navigate. It also lessens the amount of time the birth mother spends in sadness.
Birth parents choose the adoptive parents for a reason. They spend an enormous amount of time, energy and love picking the best parents for their child. The adoptive mother should remember this when she her feelings of sadness for the birth mother begin to overwhelm her. She should take the time to remind herself that the birth mother felt she would be the best possible mother for the child.
Understanding the birth mother’s grief can help the adoptive mother to connect on an even deeper level with her child. As the baby grows, the adoptive parents can share with him or her the feelings that were experienced by all involved. Undoubtedly, the child will feel solace knowing that both biological and adoptive parents put so much energy and emotion into the adoption process.
The birth mother will eventually move on from the grief process. She knows that she made the right choice with the adoption and with the parents she chose for the baby. In an open adoption, she also knows that she will be able to be a part of that baby’s life in the way that everyone agreed upon. Understanding all of these things will help her to move on with her own life in a positive and healthy way.
The adoptive mother may continue to have feelings of guilt and grief interspersed with her feelings of happiness. She should not berate or belittle herself for feeling these things. Instead, she should attempt to understand them. She should talk over her feelings with her partner, trusted companions, or even the birth mother herself. She should simply remember not to let her own feelings overwhelm what is most important: providing love to her new child.