Tips for Grieving Birth Parents
The grieving process may take longer than you expect. Give yourself permission to hurt. Take whatever time is necessary.
Tips to endure and conquer grief:
- You should acknowledge your sadness and the loss of your child: be prepared to handle difficult feelings.
- It's alright to be angry and dissatisfied that you were/are not ready to parent: acknowledging this will help you make progress.
- Surround yourself with individuals who will offer you non-judgmental and caring support. If you don't have a support system like this in your own home, maintain contact with your adoption counselor or search for birth parent support groups.
- Discover healthy outlets such as jogging, seeing a humorous movie, bubble baths, fun nights with close friends, and so forth.
- Participate in rewarding activities: this is often a hobby like running, cooking food, painting, etc., or it may be fulfilling a goal: getting your diploma, taking a class, learning to sew, and so on.
- Write letters for your baby, or start up a scrapbook about your adoption process.
- Go easy on yourself: healing will take time. You might be doing great for a few months only to find yourself hurting once again. This is normal.
- Be ready for what is known as the "anniversary reaction.” Every year when it's your child's birthday you may have a reemergence of unpleasant emotions. Many birth parents may wish to be quiet and write, while some may benefit from doing something enjoyable, like going out to an evening meal with friends, or planning their own special activity like preparing a birthday cake, or going on a hike or picnic.
- Look for professional adoption counseling if you find yourself struggling to make progress, or are "stuck" in your discomfort. If your grief is so bad that your everyday life is disrupted, you might need professional help.
- Speak to your adoption professional and ask them to connect you with other birth parents who understand your pain or ask to read the stories of some other birth parents who have gone through what you've been through. Support and help from other people who have been through an adoption could be comforting and offer hope.
- If you are a birth parent couple, know that every person grieves in a different way. Some have to be alone, some need to chat, some are not outwardly sad while others are openly depressed. Allow each other permission to grieve in a way which is different from yours.