Impact on Birth Parents
- Loss of immediate life plans.
- Most struggle with the decision to place the child for adoption; those who decide to do so begin to plan for a great loss in their own lives with the hope that placing the child for adoption will result in a better life for their baby and for themselves.
- Trauma can be impacted by the process, lack of support, the behavior of the adoption agency, or level of communication with adopting family.
- Clients often express feelings of numbness, shock, and denial, as well as grief.
o Normalize these as typical reactions to loss. - An added struggle with this type of loss is the greater sense of privacy around it which may limit help from support systems who may not be informed.
- Due to the secrecy, this loss often lacks typical cultural rituals or ceremonies to gain closure.
o Grieving Other Losses. - Loss of parenting role.
- Feelings of loss may reoccur during holidays, anniversaries or birthday.
- Stress of pregnancy and adoption may take a toll on the partner/marital relationship.
- If client is young, this may also cause a significant issue in parental relationships.
- If young, the client my have to drop out of school.
o Guilt and Shame. - Societal values often show a lack of understanding over the circumstances leading up to adoption.
- Culturally, there is an association of shame with unplanned pregnancy.
- Client may express feelings of unworthiness.
- Clients who discuss their feelings with supportive friends, family, or counselors may more easily come to terms with their decision over time and be able to integrate the experience into their lives in a healthy way.
o Identity Issues. - Clients often ask themselves if they are “parents”.
- Some mothers may experience a sense of incompleteness after giving birth.
- Parent status is not acknowledged by society, family, or friends for those who give up children for adoption.
- The issue of being involved in the child’s life and how to integrate with the adoptive family is an important one.
o Long-Term Issues. - Feelings about the adoption may be life long, but varying in intensity.
- Some of the factors that have been found to be associated with long-standing grief include:
⋄ A birth parent's feeling that she was pressured into placing her child for adoption against her will
⋄ Feelings of guilt and shame regarding the placement
⋄ Lack of opportunity to express feelings about the placement
- For some birth parents, the ability to establish a successful marriage or long-term relationship may depend on the openness with which they can discuss their past experiences of birth and adoption placement.
- Some birth parents never tell their spouses or subsequent children of their earlier child.