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Birth Parents: Surviving the Emotional Complexities of Adoption

Posted on in Children

Emotional Complexities of AdoptionCelebrating 50 years of protecting and supporting families, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has successfully assisted with the adoption of more than 17,000 children over the past decade. By providing these children the opportunity to find love and permanent homes, there lies perhaps an even more personal story hidden behind the scenes. For every child adopted through the DCFS, there is a birth parent experiencing an array of emotions.

Adoption.net, a relatively new informational adoption source, recently opened a forum discussion targeting the difficulties facing birth parents. The forum offers advice for compartmentalizing the emotions often associated with this life-altering decision. Feelings of intense loss, shame and guilt often proceed resolution over making this difficult decision.

The site offers an informative and constructive fact sheet highlighting the following topics, all of which may prove helpful to all the parents involved in the adoption process.

Sense of Loss

Opting to place a child into adoption services emcompasses a deep sense of internal loss that often begins at the onset of pregnancy. For the expectant birth parent, most will struggle with the decision to place the child up for adoption and will begin the grieving process even though they support their decision as a means to provide the child with the opportunity of a better life.

Actual physical separation anxiety often occurs soon after the birth. For many birth parents, they will experience mixed emotions about following through with the initial decision to place the child into adoption services. Facing the finality of surrendering parental rights can be extremely disparaging. The emotional turmoil often increases following the birth of the child when physicians, hospital personnel, designated adoption agency and the adoption parents increase their involvement.

At this time, birth parents may experience feelings of elevated grief, numbness, denial and shock, all emotions associated with reactionary loss. Birth parents may adopt a dissociative position and act as if nothing has happened. Denial often serves as a buffer to shield the birth parent from the pain of an enduring loss with anger and guilt soon in tow. It cannot be determined when resolution and acceptance will materialize.

Guilt and Shame

Often, birth parents are riddled with guilt and shame. These emotions, coupled with socially induced stigmas, could begin at the onset of an unexpected pregnancy and follow the birth parent long after the adoption has been finalized.

Identity Issues

For birth parents, deciding to place the child up for adoption can trigger personal identity complexities. A sense of "incompleteness" often rises during this period. Birth parents may question their validity since they may now view themselves as a parent but one without a child. Even as additional children are born, the identity of the parent as well as these children may remain in limbo. For those birth parents accepting of an open adoption, the questions of building a relationship with the child may also become an issue of unresolved clarity.

Life Long Issues

Many birth parents experience a lifetime of mourning. For example, a birth parent may hold onto the memories of what could have been in the fabrication of imaginary milestones of childhood. Coupled with intense grief, this emotional turmoil could interfere with the psychological well-being of the birth parent. If this occurs, some birth parents may feel that they were pressured into placing the child up for adoption with increased feelings of guilt and shame. This situation can often lead to difficulties forming and maintaining personal relationships accompanied by emotional instances of grief and loss to avoid the possibility of even further loss if the relationship falls apart.

Control and Resolution

Birth parents, no matter the length of time, will never fully recover. During this phase, it is important for the birth parent to acknowledge feelings of loss and sorrow as they continue the healing process.

According to Adoption.net, based on the actual experiences of birth parents, choosing adoption offers the following suggestions to reach a sustainable level of resolution:

  • Seek professional help,
  • Join a support group,
  • Seek educational opportunities, and
  • Maintain a personal journal.
The skilled Lombard adoption attorneys of A. Traub & Associates understand the complexities of adoption for all those involved. Our legal team has experience working with various Illinois adoption agencies and is committed to guiding you in the right direction. If you reside in DuPage, Cook, Will or Kane Counties and would like more information on Illinois adoption options, contact us today at 630-426-0196.
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