Handling the Stress of Adoption
After making the very difficult and complicated decision to place their baby for adoption, the majority of birth mothers experience a broad range of emotions, including grief at the loss of their baby, relief at making a decision that is in the child’s best interest, even doubt as to whether they have made the right choice. This is all very normal, and it’s important to give yourself permission to experience all of those emotions on your own timeline.
Is It Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum Depression (PPD) can occur at any time from birth to a full year after delivery, and is characterized by emotional as well as physical changes. PPD is characterized by feelings of sadness, hopelessness and guilt, and tends to hit birth mothers particularly hard because of the emotionally charged nature of placing a baby for adoption. PPD is often caused by the fluctuation of pregnancy hormones, is more common in people with a history of depression, and is often exacerbated by stress and other issues common in placing a baby for adoption.
How to Deal with Postpartum Emotions
First, remember that it’s completely ok and normal to feel sadness. Listen to your body – if you feel like you need to take a nap, do that. You’ve been through a traumatic experience, both physically and emotionally, and you need to give yourself time to heal. Take care of your physical needs by choosing good, nutritious food and getting plenty of rest. If you feel up to it, try to get moving. Physical activity has been shown to ease symptoms of depression. Now is not the time to isolate yourself – your friends and family may not know just what to say, but often just being with someone who cares is helpful. Don’t try to tough it out on your own – it’s perfectly fine to accept help from your family and friends during this time.
While it may seem like your primary emotion right now is sadness, try to balance that out with happiness in the knowledge that you have done a good thing for the child and the adoptive family, with the absolute best interests of the baby at the heart of the decision.
If you feel like your sadness is getting worse instead of better, reach out to your health care provider. Depression is a medical condition, and nothing to be ashamed of, so don’t hesitate to ask for help. There are medications that can alleviate the symptoms, and therapists who are trained to help you learn how to cope with your new reality.
At ABC for Adoption, our caring professionals offer comprehensive counseling to birth parents, and are here to assist you every step of the way. Visit us online, or call 847-821-2901.