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Caring for your Mental Health After Adoption: Considerations for Birth Parents

Placing a baby for adoption can create a whirlwind of emotions. Many of these emotions can be positive, including the hope for a better life for your child, or joy from the act of helping an adoptive couple become parents for the first time. But the adoption process also involves heavier emotions including grief, loss, and possibly loneliness or frustration from feeling that others in your life may be unable to relate to how you are feeling or provide the emotional support that you need. These emotions often can take a toll on a birth parent’s mental health, and prioritizing care for your mental health can be a significant part of the healing process after an adoption placement.

There are many potential methods for caring for your mental health after placing a baby for adoption. Here are a few options you may want to consider:

Take time off from work or school if needed and possible. Allowing yourself time to rest and recover not only from the pregnancy and birth, but also from the adoption process, can be essential to healing both physically and emotionally.

Seek support from friends or family. When we are grieving, sometimes we feel pressured to put on a brave face for our families, children, and partners. And sometimes we are tempted to isolate ourselves and shut out the rest of the world. If no one is around to ask us about how we are feeling, then we don’t need to acknowledge those feelings exist, right? But friends and family can also provide the support that we need to heal, and to remind us of the things that bring us happiness and peace in a time when things may feel anything but peaceful. And although friends and family may not always know what to say to comfort us, sometimes what we need from them is simply someone to sit with us while we process and feel our own emotions, and to remind us we are not alone.

Consider attending therapy. Sometimes a birth mother may need more support than what friends and family are able to give, or maybe you are seeking guidance on how to approach the overwhelming emotions you are feeling. A therapist or counselor can help you process the grief, loss, relief, and bittersweet emotions that you may experience after placing your child for adoption, as well as provide education on the stages of grief and how to cope with each stage. A therapist can help you navigate what you are feeling and find healthy ways to express it.

Join a support group. Whether it is a local grief group that meets in person once per week to share experiences about the grieving process, or a private online group in which birth parents post how they are feeling and seek advice from others, support groups can provide a comforting space to put a voice to how you are feeling and connect with others with shared experiences. Groups can also reassure birth parents that they are not alone, and although their experience is unique, they can find common ground and seek support and advice from others who have also placed a child for adoption.

Practice self-care. When we are busy, or focused on caring for others, we often put ourselves on the back burner. But when you are coping with placing a baby for adoption, taking care of yourself is essential. Take time to explore creative outlets to express your emotions, listen to music, and spend time outdoors. Maybe explore a new hobby, or take a trip to a place you’ve always wanted to visit.

However you choose to proceed after placement, taking care of your mental health is an essential part of adoption. Each birth parent’s needs are unique, and this list does not include all options for caring for your mental health as a birth parent, but may provide some guidance in your healing process.