When a mother places her child for adoption, there are several acts to the whole play. There is the conception, the preparation, the birth, the placement, and the post-placement. Each act is a huge life change of its own. What I want to discuss in this article is the longest, and final act: the post-placement act.
After a birth mother places her child, going right back to how life was before her child is nearly impossible. Too much has changed; the birth mother’s perspective, relationships, self-image, and so much more have evolved to encompass a new characteristic to their identity. Learning to function after having placed someone you love so dearly with another family can make it hard to feel motivated and focused. Grief, depression, and regret can overwhelm you if care is not taken to look out for yourself.
In my personal opinion, preparing for post-adoption is something a woman should do even before her child is born. Something as simple as getting up in the morning does not come easily after a placement. Having a plan in place before placement will help you know in which direction to go, to whom you can turn, and what goals need to be met.
If you are working with a social worker on your placement and have decided on an open adoption, they should already know to help you set up a plan for visitations, emails, call, etc. If you have chosen a closed adoption, this is not necessary. But once that is done, you need to make sure you help yourself. Take into consideration whether or not you will be going on disability to recover from the delivery. Whether a woman places or parents, recovery is a big part of the process to make sure you’re well. If you’ve placed, there is also a change your state will allow grieving time in place of bonding time. Whether you’re taking advantage of these amenities or not, I would also recommend considering the following:
- Will you go back to your same job?
- Will you go back to school?
- When will you go back to school?
- Will you continue to live under the same roof?
Like I mentioned earlier, lots will have changed. I personally had been working at a daycare before placement, so going back to the same job didn’t work out too well. I was only back for about two months before I couldn’t take it anymore. I also tried nannying for my cousin, but the same thing happened. It was too painful to work with kids when I didn’t have mine. I had decided to go back to school the next full semester, and it definitely helped me to keep my mind occupied. For some, having gotten pregnant or placing a child can mean being kicked out of where you currently live, so make sure you’ve got a place to stay. I was told that, “If [I] mess up one more time, [I couldn’t live in my parent’s home] anymore.” Needless to say, I always had other options in the bag just in case.
Next, I would recommend you take time to figure out who will be your support system. Some people may not be supportive of you and your decision so keep in mind who you can trust and turn to. When I placed my son, I knew well in advance how my mind worked, and talked with a few people I knew supported me who would also make sure I was never left alone for the first three months after placement. I also had people who I could call and talk or cry to whenever I needed. This not only kept me safe, but it kept me from being complacent. However, this may be very different for other people.
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As daunting as it can sound when you’re grief-stricken and mourning, life does continue after placement…
Some people find safety and comfort in being left alone when they’re hurting. Try to think in advance–before the pain of the placement potentially makes you think irrationally–how you handle stressful, burdensome events and plan accordingly. Always prepare for the unexpected by having some people on call, just in case, but do what is best for you to allow yourself safety and peace.
Lastly, I would advise that you try to set some goals for yourself to get back on your feet. As daunting as it can sound when you’re grief-stricken and mourning, life does continue after placement, and it is very important that you don’t set yourself back too far. Please understand that it is extremely important to take care of yourself and take time to heal and feel everything that comes with placement, but setting goals will give you something positive to look forward to. Something to make you feel accomplished and good about yourself. This can be something as simple as working on milestones for a hobby or learning something new, or something bigger like saving up for a trip. No matter what it is, find ways to progress, and it will help you push past any negativity.
Placing a child and becoming a birth mother are extremely difficult, and will forever be a part of who you are. Do what you can to make the best of it by planning ahead and taking care of yourself. Just like your amazing child, you deserve the best and are worth the effort.