Adoption, birth mother

5 Things I Wasn’t Prepared for after placing my son for adoption

Things I Wasn’t Prepared For…

My name is Brittany and I placed my son for adoption in 2013. In 2017, I decided to work for an adoption agency. I wanted to work for the agency to help aid my own personal healing, but I ended up getting so much more. After working here for a couple years, I was able to really mentally grasp my thoughts and experiences with my son’s adoption. I realized there were a few things I wasn’t prepared for or just didn’t expect. Below is a list of the top 5 things I wasn’t prepared for. I hope this sparks conversation between adoptive parents & birth parents. I also hope this helps birth mothers looking to place or helps adoptive parents understand what their child’s birth mother is going through.

  1. Being Considered Family by Adoptive Parents

Growing up, I didn’t understand the concept of family. It wasn’t until I got older that I understood. Which is why initially, it felt strange for the adoptive parents to consider me a part of their family. At first, I didn’t understand why the adoptive mom always checked up on me. She keeps up with where I work, if I’m moving, how I feel, or just having random conversations. It took me awhile to realize that they cared just like my family did.

They honestly would like for me to be more involved. However, they also understand it’s hard for me emotionally right now. They never push past the boundaries I have, which I feel is love within itself. The adoptive parents even hope that I have another child. Which is was another shocker for me. I didn’t think they would even care, but they do! They want my son to have a biological sibling. The adoptive mother wants me to be able to experience motherhood. She always says she doesn’t want the adoption to dictate my thoughts on being a mother. Having this type of support was strange at first, but now I appreciate it. These are some of the ways that they have incorporated me into their family

Having this type of support was strange at first, but now I appreciate it. These are some of the ways that they have incorporated me into their family

2) Still Having Contact with My Son’s Adoptive Parents

This might seem like a continuation of the one above, but I promise it’s not. For starters, my adoption was done in Utah. In Utah, there is only a legally binding contract for pictures and letters up to one year. I honestly didn’t think I would hear from the adoptive parents again after that one year. Then a few years after our adoption, the agency we used closed. Which further led me to believe that I may not hear from the adoptive parents or my son ever again.

Before making the final decision of adoption, I did a lot of research. I saw that in most cases similar to mine, once the adoptive parents got the baby and fulfilled their year of updates by Utah law, that was it. You really wouldn’t hear from them again. I even saw this in some open adoption cases as well. For some reason, this was easier for me to accept. I think mainly because I mentally prepared myself not to have contact. So, still having contact with the adoptive parents shocked me! Deep down, I think considering not having contact made me feel like I was mentally off the hook. Kind of like the “out of sight, out of mind” concept. Boy, was I wrong!

3) Coping with Long-Term Grief

Society has us conditioned to believe that time heals all wounds. But this isn’t the case for everything. I even thought I would “get over it” after a while, but you never truly do. I don’t think you can ever “get over it”, but it does get better after some time. Personally, I have noticed that it is getting harder the older he gets. It didn’t feel like this in the beginning for me. It’s very rare, but sometimes I grieve as if it just happened. It’s usually when he hits a milestone like entering kindergarten, losing teeth, or learning how to read. I didn’t think I would still feel full-on grieve after this long. Granted, it only happens every once and a while, I didn’t think I would still feel it. At times, it feels like I’m constantly learning how to cope. I think I needed to allow myself to grieve, to know it’s an ongoing process and not something I’ll “get over” but instead move through life with.

4) Wishing I Could Parent Now that I’m Financially & Emotionally Stable

I definitely wasn’t prepared for this one. I didn’t start feeling this way until 2 years ago. I was financially stable by the time my son was around 2 or 3 years old but, I wasn’t emotionally stable or mature enough. Now that I’m both of those things, I feel like I could parent.

Would I take it back…..NO! I do feel that I made the right decision. I would never want to break the bond they have created with my son, because they also bonded with me. My son is happy and healthy exactly where he is, and I can’t complain about that. But it doesn’t stop me from feeling this way.

I do believe that still being in a relationship with the birth father exaggerates this feeling. We’ve always had a great relationship and we still do. I actually consider him to be my best friend, but sometimes I wonder if I would feel this way about wishing I chould parent if we weren’t together.

5) Yearning for a Maternal Connection

Growing up I never had a desire to be a mother. This continued into my adult years as well. Which is why I didn’t expect to yearn for a maternal connection. Once I placed my son, those feelings changed. Sometimes I find myself wondering what it’s like to be happy and pregnant. Or what it’s like to be pregnant and not feel guilty. I wonder what it’s like to have a baby shower and have your family & friends crowding around you. I never got a chance to enjoy my pregnancy due to my circumstances.

I hid my pregnancy and the adoption from my family for the first 2 years. So, I couldn’t have the ideal pregnancy. On the other hand, I would feel guilty if I had another child. Deep down I personally don’t think it’s fair to keep one sibling and not the other. I know this is something I have to overcome one day, but that’s part of the process.

Things May Change….

Now, all of this isn’t to steer expecting mothers & fathers from placing their children. A lot of good comes with adoption too. I still truly believe I made the best decision for my son and me. Adoption isn’t something you can deal with in one day, not even one year. I’m sharing these things so people can see that adoption is ever-changing. I say these things mostly so that birth parents can understand that your feelings around adoption can change and develop over time. Adoption is complex in every way and the grief that comes with placing is not something to “Get over” but to work through and cope with over time.

In a few years, I may feel differently than what I do now. I most certainly didn’t feel any of this in the beginning, it just changed over time.

That being said, I’m glad I chose the adoptive parents that I did. They’re a huge support system for me. Now that my family and some friends know about the adoption, they support me as well. Even though I may feel this way at times, I feel that I’ve gotten more good out of adoption than anything else.

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