Birth parents are often under-served in the adoption process, and while there are many studies and services dedicated to adoptees, there are not that many dedicated to birthparents and their hardships after adoption. And while you might notice more recognition of the fact that placing a child can be one of the most emotional life events for a woman, this has not yet lead to a very comprehensive development of post-placement supports and services. It is important to take care of yourself after adoption, so here is a short guide on how to give yourself adequate self-care in the time following placement.
Not every birthmother experiences the same responses to giving their child up for adoption, but people typically experience trauma-like reactions which can be sorted into these basic categories.
Psychological and Emotional
· Irritability, restlessness, or over excitability
· Feelings of sadness, moodiness, more crying than usual
· Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness
· Feelings of numbness or detachment
· Re-experiencing the event, which can include intrusive thoughts, distressing dreams or nightmares, flashbacks, feelings of isolation, etc.
· Difficulty concentrating
· Feelings confused or distracted, slower thought than normal
· Tendency to behave irritably
· Social isolation
· Strong need to talk about the event
If you recognize yourself in any of the above, just remember that what you are feeling is completely normal. In the days following placement, you might feel sad, confused, detached from reality or disrupted. That is why adequate self-care is important.
The first thing to do is to just remind yourself that your responses are completely normal. Allow yourself to feel your emotions and don’t blame yourself for them. Treat yourself with kindness and understanding and listen to your body and mind as they tell you what you need.
When you feel tired, remember that you deserve to give yourself some rest and if you get hyperactive just try to use that energy. Don’t force yourself to do something you’re not feeling up to doing.
Another important factor is talking to people. If you feel overwhelmed, reach out. Feelings will come, and they will be strong, so it is important to have someone you can trust to go through the experience with you. If you don’t have someone like that, reach out to people via the Internet or look for a local support group. If that doesn’t work, there are always crisis lines and other community resources – and they are here to help.
Another important thing to note is that it is best to avoid making any major life decisions or big life changes if you can.
Don’t put any added pressure on yourself until you feel better – just concentrate on yourself.
Give yourself the time and space to read, take a bath, cry, rage, and express any other feeling you might have. Avoid numbing the pain with substances of any kind that will only prolong the healing period. It is not cathartic as a habit.