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Life goes back to normal after making an adoption plan, but it’s not the same normal it was before.
Grief changes us, and your daily life after placing your child will never be exactly the same as it was before; but that does not mean that you cannot live your life just as happily and healthily.
1. Make time for feelings. The timing of your pregnancy and adoption plan is likely to have an effect on how you feel afterward. We’ve found that birthmothers who don’t realize they are pregnant until shortly before delivery tend to struggle emotionally after placement because they haven’t had time to fully process the pregnancy and adoption decision. No matter how long it’s been since you found out you were pregnant, you must give yourself time to process your decision once you return home from the hospital. This might sound silly, but scheduling time to “feel your feelings” can really help. Give yourself fifteen minutes a day just to feel, in whatever way is most comforting to you: by talking to someone about it, by writing in a journal, by taking a long walk by yourself, etc. You will likely find that when you schedule time for feelings, it will make going back to the other things you need to do, like grocery shopping and taking care of your other children, less difficult.
2. Do something else. Elsa at Birth Mom Buds turned to an old hobby, knitting, to pass the time as she processed her decision after coming home from the hospital. “I needed something that had been untouched by all that I had gone through in the last few months,” she explains. “It calmed my nerves, ordered my brain, and gave me a sense of accomplishment with every project that I completed.” Finding a hobby that you enjoy and that makes you feel good about yourself is an excellent idea. Keep in mind, though, that distracting yourself without giving yourself time to grieve is not healthy. For example, if playing with your children in the evenings relaxes you and helps you feel calm and secure, you should absolutely make a point of doing it as often as you can. You should not, however, dive into taking care of your children 24/7 to the point that it consumes you and that you are never alone or thinking about your feelings about the adoption. Again, you need to make time to feel sad -- to acknowledge it, to cry about it, and, eventually, to get through it.
3. Stay in touch. We have found that our clients who use Child Connect tend to process their adoption decisions very well. Child Connect is a web-based system that allows you and your child’s family to upload and view pictures, letters, and videos from any computer with an Internet connection (and if you don’t have Internet access, you can still receive printed letters and pictures through the program). Clients who use Child Connect and are able to see that their child is in a loving home tell us that even as they are grieving, they are able to feel good about their decision. Even if you and your child’s family do not use Child Connect, being purposeful about maintaining an open adoption in the days, months, and years after placement is an excellent way to process the grief and loss that are normal parts of the process. Knowing how your child is doing, and seeing them thrive, will not make those feelings go away, but they can help you see your child’s adoption in a bittersweet light – as something difficult and painful, yes, but also something to be celebrated.
How did you find your “new normal” after making an adoption plan? Tell us in the comments section below!