Post – Adoption Grief

by admin

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.