I recently read an article about grief and how it helps us heal. It really struck me because I was completely grief-stricken for a while after placing my son for adoption. For a while I just cried all the time. Even now, there are times I feel really, really sad for a period of weeks. There are some days I still cry. That grief that birth parents experience when they place a child for adoption never fully goes away. It definitely gets better over time, but there will be times when those feelings of grief will be strong.
What is grief?
Grief is a very intense feeling of sadness or emotional distress. Some other feelings that are associated with grief are anger, resentment, guilt, and anxiety. People usually experience grief when they have experienced a loss of some sort. Grief is a natural emotional reaction to loss and is an indication that the healing process has started.
Grief in adoption
Losing a child through adoption is just as profound a loss as losing a loved one. When birth parents place their child for adoption, they experience the loss of a child. They will not experience the joys of parenting that child. They will not be called Mommy and Daddy by that child or get to spend holidays together. There is a loss of a lifetime of memories and laughter and love. Birth parents are not able to show their children love in the way they want. I wish I could hold my son, kiss him, hear him laugh, see him smile, and watch him grow. I wish I could simply just tell him in my own words face to face that I love him. Experiencing loss and grief in adoption is very real and very powerful.
Dealing with grief
Everyone deals with grief differently, but there are some things that help for most people. For one, do not avoid feelings of grief. Remember that those feelings are normal and are a necessary part of the healing process. For me, crying is a good way to get through periods of grief. I always feel better after a really good cry. Journaling is known to help with feelings of grief. It allows you to expel those intense emotions in a healthy way. Talking to someone… “A burden shared is a burden halved.” I talked to and emailed the counselor at Act of Love quite frequently after placement. I always felt better after sharing those feelings because I knew I did not have to experience them alone. The biggest help with grief is time. You must give yourself time to grieve. It can be a slow and frustrating process but know those intense feelings do not last long. Every day you feel those feelings is another day of healing and working towards acceptance.
There is no set amount of time for grieving. For some, those intense emotions may last only a few months, for others it could be a year or longer. In any case, acceptance lies beyond those feelings. Acceptance is being able to acknowledge your loss and have feelings of peace about it. Life post-placement may never be the same, it shouldn’t. You will be changed forever, in a good way. Placing a child for adoption is not the end of life for you. You will feel better and still enjoy life. You can move forward and experience happiness, and you should, that is the natural progression of the process. Doing so will also prepare you to reunite with your child when the time comes, if that is something you choose to do.
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