Something many adoptive parents do not expect or are unprepared for is adoptive parent guilt. This occurs most commonly in the case of domestic adoptions, because you often meet the birth mother and are reminded that she is a human being just like yourself.
If you are currently an adoptive parent, or planning to become an adoptive parent, you should familiarize yourself with what adoption guilt is so you can prepare yourself for times that you might experience it.
What is Adoption Guilt?
While guilt is usually a feeling associated with having done something wrong, adoption guilt is intertwined with feelings of empathy, compassion, appreciation, and sympathy.
Adoption guilt is not uncommon. It is often the result of realizing that you have received the wonderful gift of a baby to love and raise because of a difficult decision made by that child’s birth mother. However, it can also occur for other reasons too.
Times You Most Likely Might Feel Adoption Guilt
You can experience adoption guilt at any time throughout the adoption process. Some of the most common times adoptive parents feel adoption guilt include:
- Making Your Adoption Profile: You are marketing yourself to birth mothers, so you will want to point out all of the things you can offer to a child. This may cause guilt, knowing that you are pointing out things that the birth mother may not have the resources to offer the child herself.
- Meeting the Birth Mother: You will be confronted by the fact that the birth mother is a human just like you with a story of her own, and a difficult decision to make.
- After Delivery: It will be difficult for the birth mother to say goodbye after delivering her baby. You are going to feel joy and happiness over the birth of your new adoptive child, and you may struggle with feeling guilty for those feelings while she is experiencing pain of loss.
- Parenting Your Child: Someone else chose you to parent their child because they thought you would do a better job than themselves. It’s easy to carry the burden of feeling like you need to be the perfect parent, and feeling guilty if you think you aren’t.
- Getting Frustrated with Your Child: Your child is bound to do things that will cause you stress and frustration. You might feel guilty for those feelings because you remember how much you had wished and hoped for your child.
- Milestones in Your Child’s Life: When you get to experience milestones in your child’s life, you may also find you feel guilt over the fact that you are the one experiencing them rather than the birth mother.
Overcoming Adoption Guilt
Adoption guilt can be tough to grapple with. While it may be tough, it is important to remember that you are not only receiving the gift of being able to love and raise your adoptive child, but you are also giving both the child and the birth parents a gift of a loving family for the adoptee.
Remember the reality is that parenting is hard and you are only human. Remind yourself that it is okay to feel tired and frustrated at times.
If you are struggling with adoption guilt, know that the feeling of guilt will evolve over time. Eventually, those feelings of guilt will transform into feelings of gratitude, love, appreciation, and attachment.