If you are a birth mother who has had to give away her child for what ever reason, you will have to cope with the grief and loss which results from adoption. Elizabeth Postle has helped many people cope with loss and bereavement. She writes here about the effects of adoption on mothers who have to give up a child and makes suggestions on how to live with the grief.
Women who decide to have a child adopted experience loss and grief even if they know that it was for the best.
They are aware of birthdays, the first Christmas without the child they gave birth to. Their bereavement is strong and may last many years. Even when married and having other children, the pain of the loss of the adopted child is strong.
Remember that love is strong, but a wonderful thing. The decision to have the child adopted was no doubt the best thing at the time.
It is a difficult decision when a mother is very young, or not in a position to look after a child. But a mother still needs to grieve and then move on.
Birth mothers who have decided to adopt their child out may go through shock and trauma. It is possible that the shock of the bereavement can leave some unable to talk for several weeks or months.
They may experience any of the emotions of grief that anyone else can go through. They may need support and counselling and the effects can last for a long time.
Mother nature has designed our reproductive systems so that biologically
we are able to reproduce long before we are ready emotionally. We are
able to reproduce before we are mature enough to cope with the 24 hour a
day care of a baby. Hormonal influences ensure that thousands of
unwanted pregnancies occur every year. Teenage pregnancies are on the
With good family support many girls are able to keep their babies. However, with our fractured societies many people move away from family because of jobs or other reasons and many teenagers just don't have the extended family support they need to cope with having a baby.
In many communities, there is still a social stigma attached to being an unmarried mother, and often the family may send away the young girl and force her to have the baby adopted. It is not as common these days as in times gone by, but it does still happen in many countries around the world.
There are thousands of legal abortions every year because of health, financial or other social reasons. Some women today have options, though it is still impossible to find abortion facilities in many cultures. But many know that they are not capable emotionally or financially to cope with a child and the family support may not be available. Understandably many can not face abortion or it might not be available.
Lots of support groups help the pregnant mums to be. They have accommodation and financial support so that the girls can have their babies and agree to have them adopted. These charity organisations are often religious based. Lots of these pregnant girls/ladies would otherwise find life difficult at home. Therefore adoption makes the best solution for them at this difficult time of their lives.
Once the mother is settled and the adoption has been organised, it may seem that all is going well. What our mothers to be do not expect is the overwhelming mother-child bond after the birth. The birth itself brings forth such powerful emotions that it can be a huge shock. What seemed like a sensible solution to a difficult situation is now a great burden as the long-term effects of adoption kick in.
When the child is taken by the adoptive parents the grief can be severe, worse because it was unexpected. The sense of guilt is can be massive.
Often these mothers return to their families who may be unaware of what their daughters have suffered and this grief has to be coped with alone.
The personality change will be put down to maturity or changing job or studying too hard. The grief can be as severe as if the child were stillborn, it is lost to them. Even if years later they marry and have other family, the loss of that child is still a huge sacrifice, the strength of the mother child bond should never be underestimated. The effects of adoption can last a lifetime.
If families are able to discuss adoption with their daughters then do realise that this is a huge loss and genuine grief will manifest itself. For whatever reason it occurred be thankful you are able to help your family through this ordeal, not like the girls who have to pretend nothing happened.
If you are in this situation, try to be kind to yourself. Forget the guilt and remember you did what you thought was best for everyone at the time and perhaps it really was the right thing. You may even be reunited at some stage in the future if the child wants to find their biological mother.
Grief is the same whether it is for someone who died or for a precious baby you knew for little more than the 9 months he or she spent in your womb. It is still a huge loss even if you only had them with you for a few short hours.
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