Feeling Guilty After an Adoption Placement

You can’t stop thinking about her. You can feel her grief through the miles. Her empty arms. The hole in her heart.

Karen White June 12, 2016
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You stand over your baby’s crib in wonder. YOU are his mom. You ARE his mom. You are his MOM!

It’s an amazing feeling.

But he has another mom. Another mom whose voice he instinctively turns towards. Whose scent he recognizes without even opening his eyes. Another mom who is now suffering the loss of her child.

You should be happy. All of your friends and family are ecstatic for you. You have the baby in your arms that you dreamt of. You finally have a family of your own . . .

But you can’t stop thinking about her. You can feel her grief through the miles. Her empty arms. The hole in her heart.

You feel guilty. You feel anxious. You feel inadequate. Your girlfriends will tell you it isn’t like you could have postpartum, you didn’t carry this baby. You took the “easy way out” by adopting, according to your sister-in-law.  After all, your figure (and nether regions) are still intact, so you should feel great!

And that other mom, the one whose baby is now yours, everyone says not to worry about her. Time heals all wounds and she will eventually move on with her life. After all, that is why she placed right?

Adoption grief can hit out of nowhere. It can be all-consuming. It is a grief adoptive parents often suffer alone because the rest of the world doesn’t understand. On the outside you appear to have the world by the purse strings. Yet inside you feel like you are a fake. Like you are a babysitter. Like you don’t deserve this child.

I will never forget the moment my husband took our son’s car seat out of his birth moms’ arms. We clung together. She and I. Both terrified of what the future would hold.

Like any parent, I worried if I was doing things “right.” But I also worried if I was doing things the way she would have. Would she think the job I was doing was good enough? Was I good enough? Would I be enough for our child? Would I live up to her expectations?

And I grieved for her. Worried how she was doing. How she was coping. How much she missed the baby boy I now called my own.

As time went on I became more secure in my role as our son’s mom. I can’t pinpoint the moment I stopped grieving for her, or even if I fully have. But I know that in talking to his birth mom over the years, I have been able to let go some of my worries of whether I was enough or not. I like to think that maybe, just maybe, we helped one another through some of our grief. That the openness we shared in loving this little boy helped both of us to heal. I can never completely reconcile her grief. After all, I am the one who gets to be there for all his firsts, his successes and failures. But I can say with confidence that she knows how much I love our son. And that is enough.

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Karen White

Karen White is the self-proclaimed leading authority on being "that mom." You know the one. The PTO Vice President, room mom, baseball team mom, AND leader of well-behaved kids (OK, the well-behaved part may be stretching it . . . like really stretching . . .) When she isn’t threatening to tackle one of her boys on the ball field if they don’t run faster, or convincing her 4-year-old daughter that everything doesn’t HAVE to sparkle, she is also a wife and stay-at-home mom of three. One of the three happens to have been adopted, but good luck figuring out which one it is, since they all have pasty white skin, blond hair, and blue eyes.

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