The Birth Mother Experience in Adoption

People tend to think that most women who choose adoption are teenagers, but this is not typically the case. Women choose adoption at many ages, but typically they are in their early to mid-twenties. An unplanned pregnancy is usually not the first trauma they have experienced, although every scenario is unique. Many times, this pregnancy is not her first and she has other children. Why is she choosing adoption?

This expectant mother could be considering adoption for any of these reasons:

  • Not financially able to raise a child
  • No time to raise a child while also giving her time to the other children that need her
  • Father of the child not willing to help
  • Domestic violence involved and the safety of the child is a concern
  • Fear of having a child go through the foster system
  • Lack of stability in the home

There are also expectant mothers who consider adoption for their first baby. This is typically a different scenario and these women may place for different reasons, such as:

  • Not financially ready to parent
  • Having career or educational goals which would be delayed or canceled by raising a child
  • Lack of support or even pressure from family members
  • Desire to give child a two parent home
  • Expectant mother raised in foster care and fears that child will face the same life

What is she feeling during her pregnancy?

Every woman is different during pregnancy. She may be struggling physically with the changes to her body, for example morning sickness, drastic weight gain, or even weight loss. She is definitely struggling mentally and emotionally with the decisions she will face in the days to come. 

She may detach herself emotionally from her pregnancy, even subconsciously. She may be facing a lack of support from the father, family and friends, or she may be feeling pressured to place by these people instead. This is a tough time for any expectant mother, and it’s important to be respectful, no matter her situation.

What is she looking for when choosing adoptive parents?

Every expectant mother desires something different in an adoptive family. This is why it is so important to be honest and be true to yourselves. There is an expectant mother out there who is looking for exactly you! 

She may want a home that practices a particular faith, or a home without religion. She may desire a mixed race family or a family that is prepared and educated for raising a child of a different race. She may wish for a family that lives in the bustling and busy city, or maybe in a safe, suburban neighborhood. Maybe she is looking for a family with kids, or a family with none at all. No matter what she desires for her child, she wants someone that is honest, upfront, and willing to parent with their very best efforts everyday and love with their whole hearts. 

What happens to her after placement?

It is impossible for an expectant mother to know exactly what happens to her after placement, until she actually experiences it. It is important that she is informed about the grief and emotional trauma that will occur post-placement, and as adoptive parents, it is also important to be aware of what she is experiencing.

No matter the situation, adoption is a tremendous loss for the birth mother, and thus she will grieve this loss for the rest of her life. The grieving process is cyclical, and does not always occur in order.
The five stages of grief are:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

She may experience one or more stages of grief at a time, and it is helpful to have a counselor to help her work through these emotions. After placement, many women do not have the time to rest and recover for the full amount of time recommended by their doctor. Some women also hide their pregnancies, and thus give themselves no amount of time to rest and heal their bodies. Pregnancy and childbirth are strenuous enough; emotional and mental trauma creates additional layers of struggles. 

What can I do to help her after placement?

Send updates, and send them on time. Show her how you are honoring her in your child’s life and your home. Ask her about how she is doing. Be her cheerleader and encourage her in her own aspirations. Know that you may feel guilt for her grief. This is a common feeling, but it does not mean you should feel that way. There is no way for you to “fix” her grief, but the best thing you can do is keep your promises to her and parent and love your little one the best you can. 

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