Her Grief, Our Joy

Being sensitive to birth parents on placement day.

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As I sat across from her, my husband by my side, I was overwhelmed with grief. She was holding my baby girl that she gave birth to. We were all in tears, even the social worker. Today was to be one of the happiest days of my life, but all I felt was sadness. Today was placement day. We were taking our baby girl home today.

I have thought about this day for a long time. I have thought of the emotions I would feel at this moment. Honestly, I never thought I would feel complete grief. The grief is not mine, it is hers. She is placing her baby for adoption. She is trusting us to be the parents of her baby girl. She is allowing us to have another baby.

After twenty minutes of exchanging hugs and gifts, we left the hospital room with a new baby. The hospital my daughter was born at was so gracious to let us stay in a room too. We rolled our little baby into the room and sat on the bed and cried. Looking back I’m not sure if they were tears of joy or sadness. Probably a mixture of both. All I could think was that we just received a precious gift, and her birth mom was across the hall, heartbroken. Her grief is our joy.

Our social workers tried to prepare us for this day. Nothing could have prepared us for the sadness we had for the birth mom. Of course I was overjoyed with our new daughter, but I could not stop thinking of how her birth mom felt. I remember thinking if she came into our room and said she wanted the baby back, I wouldn’t blame her.

As we walked out of the hospital and put our brand new baby into our car, I was in a fog. I almost felt guilty for being happy. When we adopted our son, we did not have the chance to meet his birth mom. My husband and I just picked him up from the hospital. Our placement day was when the nurses handed us to him. With our daughter it felt like we were adopting for the first time again because her story was so different from our son’s.

Having an open adoption with my daughter’s birth mom has allowed us to see first hand just how hard it is to place a baby for adoption.  She knew her options and was counseled well before making her decision. We knew she wanted this for her baby, but that did not take away her pain. Over the course of the next couple of days, we still felt the sadness for our daughter’s birth mom. It was not until we received the first letter from her that I began to realize she was going to be okay. It was just going to take time.

The reason I am writing this is because I want you know just how hard it is for birth parents on placement day. Remember to be very sensitive to the birth parents. Even though for adoptive parents this is a joyful day, it is a day full of grief and loss for the birth family.