Where are we, as birth parents, suppose to start to grieve? There are some who are so overcome with depression that the sun rising brings only more heartache; here are others who start feeling nothing at all and continue to wonder what is wrong with them. We can each wander throughout the path of grief alone, hoping we are coping correctly and trying to move forward, or we can turn to resources available to us.

Unfortunately, not all birth parents have resources or know what those resources are. The book Birth Parent’s Guide to Grief: A 12 Step Process, is a great place to start. The Birth Parent’s Guide to Grief walks birth parents through the process of grief, as well as pointing them in the direction of additional resources. 

What I love about this book is that it’s not a few opinions by people who don’t know what they’re talking about. The two main authors, both birth mothers, have personally been through the grief experience. They designed this book in tandem with people who have worked the 12 steps while recovering from alcoholism, participants in birth mother and adoptee focus groups, and social workers who work specifically with birth mothers. It also references the Kubler-Ross Model of Grief, a widely accepted grief process that each person who has suffered a tragedy will travel through.

I wish this book had been around six years ago, when I was so desperately attempting to travel through my grief.

This program, while loosely designed around an addiction program, is relevant, intelligent, insightful, and necessary. It is pertinent and applies perfectly to the grief birth parents feel. Even as a birth mother of six years, I found myself furiously taking notes in order to apply the principles to my own life. I wish this book had been around six years ago, when I was so desperately attempting to travel through my grief.


It starts by reminding its readers that we made the decision to place, and takes us through a journey of how to find the right people to surround ourselves with, taking control of what we can (like good influences vs bad influences) and accepting things that we can’t control (like parenting decisions). We are then told to find ourselves by admitting our grief, by realizing that life isn’t perfect, by finding a purpose. This books speaks about the good and bad of adoption, it tells us to accept the good and bad, and it tells us to do the same with ourselves. Following these steps not only helps with the initial grief, but gives great advice on how to handle grief through the years. There are worksheets throughout that will help personalize the book for your situation. That is just a glimpse of what the book offers.

Grief never goes away. It’s a process and can become easier to handle over time, but it never fully leaves. With this program as a foundation, grieving throughout your life doesn’t have to be overwhelming.

While the Guide to Grief is full of enough knowledge to guide you through a lifetime of grief, it can easily be read in about 45 minutes. I love how it’s organized step by step. If some days I need advice on loving myself, I can find that step and review my own worksheet. If on other days I want to know if a particular friend I have made is not really a friend at all, this book has resources to help me realize if a person is a friend or foe. I can reference sections or sit down and read the entire thing within an hour.

This book is a great gift for anyone who has recently, or not so recently, placed a child for adoption. I would recommend this to anyone experiencing life post-placement.