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Post – Adoption Grief

Not all of this research I agree with, these are just some of the stud­ies done on birth mother’s grief (there are more but not many) Don’t let one study deter you in any way from choos­ing or not choos­ing adop­tion. Ask other birth moms and get several opin­ions before you decide. There are many ways (I believe) to avoid some of the emo­tional pain oth­ers have expe­ri­enced in the past (not avoid, but more limit the con­di­tions that may bring on addi­tional tur­moil just not needed) Dis­en­fran­chised grief ... I had heard of it before in Psych class, but never did I really get it until I became a birth mom. 

This dis­en­fran­chised grief is when the grief is con­nected with a loss which can­not be openly acknowl­edged, pub­licly mourned, or socially sup­ported. In many cases of disenfran­chised grief, the rela­tion­ship is not recognized, the loss is not recognized or the griever is not recognized. The loss of a child through adop­tion is usu­ally a loss which can­not be openly acknowl­edged, which is why moth­ers often suf­fer in silence ... people who have expe­ri­enced any type of loss often feel anger, guilt, sad­ness, depres­sion, hope­less­ness, and numb­ness and that in cases of dis­en­fran­chised grief, these feel­ings can per­sist for a very long time. The lack of recog­ni­tion of their grief often results in them hold­ing on to it more tena­ciously than they might oth­er­wise have done.

If I had to describe adop­tion in one word, I would say “Bit­ter­sweet” joy tinged with sad­ness. That’s the way it seems to me. It is the hap­pi­est and the sad­dest thing many will expe­ri­ence in life. It is not explain­able with words, but on our main Web ­site we try. Both par­ties expe­ri­ence both emo­tions (plus a few more) it is not just one side happy and other sad. There are moments of joy that only a mother about to let go of the best gift she has ever been given, can expe­ri­ence. (I’m not say­ing extended amounts, but there are min­utes) The woman has basi­cally put all of her­self into the hands of another fam­ily. It’s as if they are adopt­ing her too (her heart at least) She truly must trust them com­pletely with her life and her child’s. Once she gets that deci­sion made, then, I think the joy comes for her in tiny glimpses she pic­tures, of the child’s future. She is so happy to see them happy (in her view look­ing to the future) Imag­in­ing the life her child will get to have. It is hard to admit that the best thing for your child ... (ok off topic, and this could go on forever) 

One last thing I want to men­tion about post-adoption grief is that appar­ently adop­tive moth­ers have it too ... and the rate of it seems to be grow­ing. In fact a google search for post-adoption depres­sion, brings up all adop­tive par­ents issues: 

“Post-Adoption Depres­sion Syn­drome” (PADS), which is not yet a dis­tinct ill­ness rec­og­nized by the Amer­i­can Psy­chi­atric Asso­ci­a­tion. PADS can range from a full-blown episode of severe depres­sion that requires hos­pi­tal­iza­tion or just a sim­ple case of the blues that lasts a month or two. The few sci­en­tific stud­ies of PADS indi­cate that over half of adop­tive moth­ers expe­ri­ence it. For exam­ple, in 1999 Har­riet McCarthy, man­ager of the East­ern Euro­pean Adop­tion Coali­tion Par­ent Edu­ca­tion and Pre­pared­ness, sur­veyed 165 moth­ers who had adopted chil­dren from East­ern Europe and found that 65 percent reported post-adoption depres­sion. Other researchers have deter­mined that you are more likely to expe­ri­ence PADS if you adopt from over­seas or if your child has spe­cial needs.”

That’s a dis­claimer I would of like on the papers I signed! Geez. I don’t know what to think of this. My first thought wasn’t so nice, it was, “Well hell (excuse me) don’t sit around moan­ing about it, give ’em back to us! We don’t want them with a mom that doesn’t ‘feel’ like a mom or is hav­ing trou­ble deal­ing with social aspects of adop­tion” Don’t spend time worrying just bring ’em back please!” (My worst night­mare is think­ing about her liv­ing in a place where she becomes the family’s Cin­derella. It’s just, that I am sure ONE fam­ily of the last thirty years, has regret­ted the deci­sion to adopt?

Ya know like a young cou­ple who thought they were ready, but real­ized they have no clue ... Yet I have never heard of any­one “giv­ing them back” and I assume that would look so hor­ri­ble on their part, that no one ever does. I’m say­ing one in a mil­lion fam­i­lies” The child in that fam­ily is my worst case sce­nario. In the last moments on our adop­tion day I said (maybe twice), “Now promise me if you don’t like her, that you will give her back.” (Of course they were stunned and I could tell already were in love with her—had been for a long time.)

I had the best fam­ily for her ever, seriously ... she is “set-up” for life. So after my ini­tial shock and defen­sive­ness, I began to under­stand how adop­tive moms might feel this depres­sion too and it is nat­ural for any woman adjust­ing to a new child and new expe­ri­ences. They won­der why women are more depressed than men (the recent study every­one cov­ered last week) They said that woman have every oppor­tu­nity now, excel in the work­place and still aren’t happy? I say duh, the major­ity of them are moth­ers! Men don’t have the innate bio­log­i­cal response to pro­tect their child more than any­thing (at least I think, don’t they want to pro­vide shel­ter or some­thing?

I will get my biol­ogy book out that I couldn’t sell back, and check myself here.) As soci­ety gets more dan­ger­ous, of course women will be affected by that. Depressed or not, 30 percent or more of men lost their jobs this year over women. So some­thing women are doing is also keep­ing their jobs safe! (So off topic again.) I was just going to put one sen­tence before the doc­u­ments here ... and now I also add a part of one study. This is a biased view from a woman that doesn’t like, more HATES adop­tion ... so don’t take the con­text to be some­thing I must believe as well. Adop­tion was very dif­fer­ent thirty years ago. This is in rela­tion to post-adop­tion support:

Post-adoption and post-adoption “coun­sel­ing” The mother may have been told the loss of her child will affect her only briefly around the time of her child’s birth­day. She may have been advised that “open” adop­tion makes it all bet­ter. Open­ness is sup­posed to help the child, because he is not com­pletely cut off from his ori­gins. With an “open” adop­tion the mother may have some vis­i­ta­tion or promises of pic­tures or let­ters from the peo­ple who adopted. But with an “open” adop­tion, the mother may be taken by sur­prise by the inten­sity of the pain and anguish as time goes by and the adopters—the peo­ple who profited from her suf­fer­ing grow increas­ingly dis­tant or cut her off com­pletely. She may find it heart­break­ing to think of the lit­tle things—like brush­ing teeth or say­ing prayers— that she can­not share with her child. 

Many moth­ers are unaware of their child’s thoughts and feel­ings about them­selves and this unnat­ural cus­tody arrange­ment. This is cer­tainly the case when the mother may sim­ply has no con­tact with her child. But when there is con­tact, it may be that the child does not want to make his mother—either one of them—feel bad by open­ing up to them with his true feel­ings. If her son or daugh­ter does comes to her for help in a sit­u­a­tion where abuse does occur, the mother—unable to do any­thing about it—may be com­pletely trauma­tized. Some moth­ers are “awake” from the start, aware their child may not be “better off” adopted, but forced by eco­nomic cir­cum­stances to sur­ren­der. Other moms may dis­cover much later that their child was badly affected by the trau­matic sep­a­ra­tion from his mother at birth and by being raised in an envi­ron­ment devoid of any true fam­ily mem­bers. From a mother’s per­spec­tive, it is hor­ri­fy­ing to dis­cover her child felt “unwanted” by her. Post-adoption coun­sel­ing Books on “griev­ing a pet” are plen­ti­ful— yet there are almost no books on griev­ing the loss of one’s son, daugh­ter or grand­child to adop­tion. Few coun­selors in North Amer­ica are knowl­edge­able of the intense delayed suf­fer­ing “dis­en­fran­chised grief” a mother may expe­ri­ence even long after los­ing her child to adop­tion

This makes it dif­fi­cult to find a good coun­selor. In addi­tion, coun­selors may have attended “Infant Adop­tion Aware­ness Train­ing” in which some atten­dees have been told that moth­ers who have prob­lems fol­low­ing the loss of their child to adop­tion are “few in num­ber and men­tally ill.” One can only won­der whether peo­ple who are griev­ing a death or divorce are also too “men­tally ill” to be wor­thy of com­pas­sion­ate coun­sel­ing. Note: There is a large mar­ket for new­born babies for adop­tion in Amer­ica. Adop­tion “coun­selors” in North Amer­ica like to refer to expec­tant par­ents as “birth­par­ents” or “birth­moth­ers,” while call­ing the unre­lated per­son hop­ing to adopt a “par­ent.” The objec­tive of this so-called “respect­ful adop­tion lan­guage” is to make the acqui­si­tion of healthy new­born babies by infer­tile peo­ple or gay peo­ple seem “nor­mal.” The euphemism “adop­tion” is used to deflect atten­tion from the real­ity—this is a trans­fer of human babies from lov­ing (if naive or pres­sured) rel­a­tives to cus­tomers. The mis­lead­ing, dis­re­spect­ful terms “birth­mother,” “birth­fa­ther,” and “birth­par­ents” are used on this web­site for search engine pur­poses only. The terms “mother” “father” “sin­gle par­ent” “ fam­ily mem­ber” and “natural mother” are accu­rate, respect­ful, and non­-deroga­tory terms. 

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