Some days I wish I hadn’t placed my little girl for adoption. There are times when all I can think of is how it would feel to have her with me, to hear her calling me mommy. I get angry with myself, thinking that I chose a permanent solution for temporary problems. It’s so easy to start spiraling down. But I can’t allow myself to do that. Here are things that I have found helpful when dealing with regret.

Take preventative measures.

Identify situations that trigger your regret. For me, family functions are a big one. Watching my siblings and cousins interact with their children hurts sometimes. I get jealous when my nephew falls down and cries for his mom – because my little one doesn’t cry for me. Your trigger points may be different.

Circumstances that may cause feelings of regret don’t need to be avoided altogether. Running from regret won’t help. Recognizing triggers gives you the opportunity to prepare beforehand for emotions that might come up. Take a deep breath. Plan an activity for afterwards that will distract you and keep you from that downward spiral.

Keep it real.

Many birth moms I know wonder if adoption was a permanent solution to a temporary problem. For me and many other women I know, adoption was the best way to make those temporary problems not permanent.

I placed because I didn’t have a good relationship with the birth father – I could never have fully separated myself from him if we had a child together. She would have suffered.

I placed because of finances – if I had parented, finishing my education would have been a lot tougher, if I finished at all. It’s likely that I would have had to work long hours for low pay, only seeing my daughter at night. That problem wouldn’t have been temporary, either.

I placed because I wasn’t mature. Parenting does cause a lot of growth in a person, but I couldn’t be responsible for myself at the time. Now I have gotten the help I need and been able to focus on bettering myself. Being born to a mother who wasn’t ready for her wouldn’t be fair to my baby.

When you regret placing, remind yourself of the circumstances you were in then, not the circumstances you are in now. Where you’re at now may or may not be the same as if you had parented – but you can’t know that. As long as you did the right thing for your baby in the circumstances you were in, you did the right thing.

Find a support network.

A support network for you might mean a trusted friend you can call when it gets tough. It might be a support group for birth moms online or in person. Maybe it’s a family member. Regardless of who it is, having people you can talk to about how you feel is essential to working through grief.

Seek help.

If your regret is consuming your life and draining you of happiness, seek professional help. Contact the agency you placed through and find out whether they offer counseling. If they don’t, most health insurance provides some coverage for mental health services. Even without insurance, there are many therapists who provide services on a sliding scale to make it affordable regardless of your income.

You might feel at first like it’s not working – but it will. Sometimes you don’t see the results with therapy for a while. Emotions are complicated, and one counseling session won’t fix everything. Find a counselor who works for you, and don’t give up.

Regret is a normal part of grief, especially grief associated with being a birth mother. It’s okay to feel this way, as long as you don’t allow yourself to stay this way forever. It won’t be easy, but you can work through it. Prevent what you can, be honest with yourself, and don’t be afraid to reach out for help. We all have our days of regret – I know I do. But it doesn’t have to last forever.