The moment has come. You have survived the treacherous and painful journey of giving birth, and are now faced with what you knew would come all along. That is, signing away your parental rights. Saying goodbye to your child, and gifting him or her to their soon-to-be adoptive parents. It is one of the hardest decisions you’ll ever have to face. You’ll never forget this day.
Healing after relinquishment is an emotional passage for everyone and, unfortunately, is rarely brought up in conversations. In a sense, it is losing a loved one, even if you haven’t spent much time with your baby. There is an emotional and physical connection that cannot be replaced. Even if you had been confident and enthusiastic knowing your child will have a better future, you are still entitled to grieve. Adoption Choices of New York will be here with your for healing after relinquishment and keep in mind that you never walk alone on this journey.
Hospital Bound and Paperwork
Your stay in the hospital will be entirely up to you. All of the details will be discussed and arranged ahead of time with your adoption caseworker. It includes everything from how you want to deliver the baby, to how much time you want to spend with him or her. Of course, the plan is malleable for you. It is simply a guideline for the hospital and for everyone involved to follow.
During this time, Adoption Choices of New York will send out documents to your attorney to review before handing them over to you to sign. We will then set up a meeting at your convenience to do an in-person signing with your attorney present. All medical records and required documents for the baby will be sent to the adoptive parent(s). Throughout your stay at the hospital, try not to worry and get some rest – your team at Adoption Choices of New York will be handling all of the logistics of your adoption plan. Communicate with your adoption expert or hospital staff if there are things you need to make your healing after relinquishment journey more comfortable.
On The Healing Roller Coaster
Starting from when you sign the paperwork or when you finally hand your baby to their new parents, you might experience an agonizing feeling of unease. There will be moments where you feel confident with the choices you have made while experiencing some lingering doubts. This is due to both the physical changes to the body, such as hormonal level changes after giving birth, and the whirlwind of emotions that come after birth.
Every birth mother will experience grief in her own unique way. In some cases, it might continue for years. That is totally normal. Do not feel afraid or ashamed to talk about it with someone. If you don’t understand the feelings you are experiencing, here are a few of the common emotions birth mothers often encounter to help give you more insight and closure:
- Grief and Loss. As the most prominent mental state that will overpower you at times, grief has no expiration date. Despite the information you received during your adoption process and knowing you will have opportunities to get updates on your child, you can never escape from the lingering feeling of loss. With closed adoptions, however, the feeling might grow exponentially as you will not receive any sort of pictures or communications. The grief, even if it weighs you down, is necessary for you to move on in life.
- Guilt. When society thinks about adoption, they always put the blame on birth mothers for being irresponsible, thus producing guilt. Birth mothers are believed to be “throwing away” their baby without any solid justifications. This simply is not true and honestly hurtful for a healing mother. You might start to believe them after some time. Even if you are certain you have made the right decision, the guilt might haunt you long after the adoption journey is over.
- Postpartum Depression. This is something that may birth mothers go through and is not exclusive to those putting their baby up for adoption. Postpartum Depression (PPD) occurs within a few days after the birth and can last up to two weeks or longer. Having PPD does not mean that you are weak in any way, it just means the birth had a tremendous impact on your mental state. Symptoms include: mood swings, anxiety, sadness, reduced appetite, withdrawal from family activities, trouble sleeping, and suicidal thoughts. Remember that this stems from the complex emotional and physical changes in your body, and being knowledgeable on this topic will help prepare you for this state of mind.
The Road to Emotional Recovery
As you gradually grow stronger physically, emotional pain may still be there. It does not help when society has a twisted view on birth mothers putting their child up for adoption. You might hear inconsiderate phrases like “giving up” or “rejecting.” All of these can impair your emotional well-being. Know that what you did took courage and strength.
In order for you to heal, you should learn the right coping mechanism that is healthy and effective. The grief doesn’t disappear right away, it takes time and perseverance.
- Learn about your feelings. Feelings can be complicated. Often, you are unable to put them into words. This might be especially true if you are purposefully running away from them. However, being able to put a label to what you are feeling will help you determine what the right course of action should be. For example, if you feel worried, try to find the source of that. It could stem from loneliness or anxiety of not knowing how your baby is doing. It does not mean that you regret your decision. Similarly, feelings of relief could be recognizing your baby will have a better future. This in no way makes you a bad mother.
- Take your time. Be patient with yourself. Allow your body and your mind the flexibility to cope and heal at their own pace. On holidays or birthdays, you might experience the symptoms much worse than on any other day. When that happens, you can either distract yourself completely or do something sentimental to celebrate. Don’t constrain your healing time because that will only add more pressure and stress onto your already vulnerable body and mental state.
- Find your support system. Since grief has no set ending time, it is up to you to conquer it. Seek out family and friends who will be there to talk to you and help you through the difficult time. There are also support groups of birth mothers going through the same thing. Once again, you are never alone on this journey. Post adoption counseling options are available through Adoption Choices of New York. We will walk with you and try our best to aid you with healing after relinquishment.
You are Your Own Champion
You have been so strong and admirable throughout this whole process. At Adoption Choices of New York, we understand that this is a vulnerable time for you and we are grateful that you allowed us to be there with you every step of the way. Of course, we can’t take all the credit. You are the hero here. Continue to heal yourself because you deserve everything.
Adoption Choices of New York
For more information on adoption or if you are currently in the process of adopting a baby and have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact, Adoption Choices of New York.
About the Author
Lisa Truong is an undergraduate journalism major at the University of Denver. She is minoring in writing and Chemistry. She has been commended by professors for her news stories as well as creative writing.
During her freshman year, her essay “See Ya on the Other Side” was displayed at a writing exhibition sponsored by the University of Denver. That essay later went on to be published in Many Voices One DU, a book also sponsored by the university.
Lisa frequently volunteers to be a leader at the Daniels School of Business for their quarterly Ethics Boot Camp where students learn about the importance of character in business. In her free time, Lisa enjoys watching animated movies with her mother, listening to music, going for bike rides, and eating breakfast food.
Bramlette, Patience. “Birth Moms: Coping Skills Post Adoption.” Adoption Choices of Colorado. May 31, 2019. https://www.adoptionchoices.org/birth-moms-coping-skills-post-adoption/.
“Postpartum Depression.” Mayo Clinic. September 01, 2018. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/postpartum-depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20376617.
Thorton, Devon. “Birth to Placement: Coping as a Birth Mother.” Adoption Choices of Nevada. May 28, 2019. https://www.adoptionchoicesofnevada.org/birth-to-placement-coping-as-a-birth-mother/.