I placed my son in April of 2015, so over 3 years ago. But when I think about the early months post-placement, the familiar burning ache returns to my chest. All things considered, I am very lucky to have had the adoption experience I have, with a wonderful open adoption and an amazing adoptive family that has loved and respected me so completely. But even with that, those early months were a blur. I so badly wanted life to return to “normal,” but what you knew as “normal” previously doesn’t exist anymore. Part of your soul is placed into another living being, and to be honest, hormones are horrific and don’t help with postpartum depression. This is not said to make any hopeful adoptive or adoptive parents feel bad or guilty, but simply honesty that leads me to explain what you really need to know about the early months post-placement.
No matter how okay we are with the adoption, there are going to be negative feelings. We are going to face depression, grief, and jealousy. Feelings about adoption aren’t black and white, and even if placing was the best possible outcome, it is still going to be a really dark time. But, continue to provide the updates and pictures that were previously discussed unless asked not to. For me personally, updates were a lifeline. I wanted to know that he was okay, that he was bonding, that he was healthy, that he was happy. No matter how badly I felt about myself, knowing I helped to create this perfect child made it better and made me want to do whatever I could to make him grow up proud of me. Making good decisions wasn’t and isn’t always easy though. We may have setbacks and put ourselves in bad situations before we try to do better. There is a level of shame and feeling of worthlessness in placing your child. You’re admitting to yourself and other people in the world that you wouldn’t be the best parent to your child. With that admission may come some self-destructive behavior as we try to navigate this new life and figure out where we fit into the world as a “birth mom.”
Know that this transition in life is hard. Encourage the birth mother to find support. If you can, set healthy boundaries and be a support for her. Send the pictures. Keep your word. Think of how you would want things to go if roles were reversed. This is what we really want hopeful adoptive parents to know about the early months post-placement.