When I was pregnant and making my adoption plan, I planned every single detail–both large and small. I decided where I wanted to deliver, who I wanted to visit, and how I wanted placement to go. But what I didn’t take into consideration was what my plans were going to be after placement. What would happen to me once the proud new parents walked out with their beautiful baby and I left with empty arms and a broken heart?
My wise social worker counseled me to make plans for immediately after placement. She suggested going to eat or being with my family. What I didn’t expect on the day of placement was feeling so emotionally and physically drained. The thought of going out in public did not sound appealing at all. In fact, the only thing that did was a 12-hour nap. But realistically, I couldn’t sleep or stay in bed forever.
As much as I didn’t want to, I needed to start living my life again. Now that my sweet baby was where he needed to be and receiving unconditional love and care, I needed to relearn how to focus on myself and take care of my own needs again. This included picking up my old hobbies, restarting my social life, and possibly dating. These things were important because they helped me resist the temptation to wallow in misery, become overwhelmed by grief, and refuse to move forward.
I loved to run before I became pregnant, so the first thing I wanted to do post-pregnancy was run a race. While I was pregnant, I decided to sign up to run a 5K a week after my due date. I definitely wasn’t taking into consideration what a toll delivery would have on my body, and needless to say, when the race came around, I walked the entire thing. It probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do after having a baby, but I think it was important for me to be back in the atmosphere of racing, which I loved.
Trying to have a social life again was another thing that came as a challenge to me. After placement, I wasn’t quite sure where I fit in society anymore. I had had a baby, so I felt like a mother. But I didn’t have a baby, so I was still a single young woman. I wanted to talk about this beautiful baby I had created, but most of my family and friends didn’t know, and those who did were not comfortable with it yet. And it wasn’t exactly socially acceptable to pass around pictures of your birth child at parties.
I finally found a social niche where I belonged when I met other birth moms my age. It was so refreshing to be able to talk, reminisce, compare, and complain to other women who knew exactly what I was going through. We could be a normal group of girls hanging out with boys, or we could be each other’s greatest support when times were rough and it felt a little hopeless.
Trying to develop old hobbies or finding new social circles were easy when compared to trying to start dating again. Dating was hard before I became a birth mother and was practically impossible afterward. It was difficult finding good guys and being able to trust them. After placement, I also felt like I was too mature for the boys my age. Once I felt comfortable with a guy, it was also hard knowing how and when to tell them I was a birth mother. Despite these difficulties, I knew it was very important for me to keep dating because it kept me moving forward in life.
Everything I did after placement was crucial to my healing and moving forward. At times it was so difficult trying to take off the role of being a mother and go back to the role of a single woman. I know that taking care of myself and relearning to focus on me were important components of overcoming my grief. Returning to my old hobbies, rekindling relationships with friends and family, and even dating were all essential aspects of taking care of myself and healing.