When facing an unplanned pregnancy, adoption is one option open to the pregnant woman. This can seem like the best solution where terminating the pregnancy goes against the grain. The aim for the mother is to provide her baby with as good as environment as possible – it’s a decision born out of love.
However, giving up her child to adoption comes with its own experiences of grief. It is a grief that’s like no other as there’s no identified grieving process. This leaves the mother to take up her life again and act like the pregnancy never happened. She’s left to get by as best she can.
Adoption related grief can lie just below the surface for many years but the grieving continues as the mother continues to mark the special milestones as her child grows and develops. It’s not a case of forgetting – a mother doesn’t forget – she continues the relationship with her child – the one that began in her womb.
She may experience a whole range of feelings – ambivalence, regret, anger, sadness, guilt and even relief knowing that her baby is being cared for and thriving. She may have no-one to talk to as the pregnancy was hidden and yet that’s just what she needs.
One relinquishing mother, “Jan”, felt the need to be able to share news of her baby’s progress. She’d been very fortunate that her baby’s adoptive parents were happy to keep her up to date through the adoption agency. She received letters and photos over the years which she treasured and was always excited to share with her counsellor – she had no-one else she could show them to. Those times were precious to her and her counsellor couldn’t help but get swept up in her excitement too – it was a privilege to be that ‘go-to’ person.
As time progressed, her daughter asked to meet her and connections were made which brought Jan great joy. In the lead up to this there were lots of discussions about what to expect, how her daughter might react to her and what this might mean in the future.
If you, or someone you know, is a relinquishing mother, help is available. Counselling may assist you to process your grief and reduce your sense of isolation.
On the Contact Form tell us your phone number (Australia only), the best day and time for us to call you, and let us know if it’s ok to leave a message should you not be able to answer the phone. A counsellor will call by the next business day during Centre opening hours (Mon: 9.30-8.00pm; Tues, Wed, Thur: 9.30-3.00pm. Closed public holidays.) You can also request an appointment for face to face counselling or just ask a question.