How have you dealt with the grieving process after placing?

AMANDA

Afterwards I think that was the most difficult part, probably the first year. Despite the fact that that was the most frequent of the pictures and the updates. I think your heart just goes through a bit of a roller coaster and I’ve definitely experienced that. I had the grief and I had the pain and there’s a lot of tears. I think I found it really difficult and that I didn’t have anyone to talk to about it. I had my family and my friends but no one to really understand what I was going through and I took to keeping all the pain inside. I didn’t really actually deal with it. It’s probably not the healthiest way to go about it.

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After the first year, things did just take a turn because I was going off to college and lots of life changes were happening. I think what really helped me to take the focus away from my grief was that I had made myself lots of goals and so there were little goals that I wanted to achieve. Some of them were silly like, I wanted to go to prom or go on a vacation to Florida or get my nails done, just little things. But then there were the bigger things, I wanted to go to college and graduate and I wanted to do all the things that would make my daughter proud of me one day. I really wanted to have those achievements to almost show, you know, I made the most of this opportunity as well.

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LEAH

I had been working with a social worker since early, early pregnancy. So that was a huge help in processing my grieve throughout my pregnancy and making my decision and weighing all that out but also post-placement that I had someone to meet with and talk to and feel things and someone to encourage me to let things out and not just let it stew in there and then it’ll blow up. It was really- That was a huge, huge, huge thing. Very important for people to have counseling.

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I also had a birthmom network of friends and originally they were all across the United States and we were just internet friends so the one that came to my hospital trip that was the first time we ever met and I had found her a few months before on the internet. She had been a huge support and she was the one that showed me what open adoption could be. So it was really neat to have the internet person come to life and come to my aide when I needed her and we’re still best friends. So having those birth moms to talk to that really get you like no other person can because they are right there feeling it with you. That’s huge. I go to retreats every year if I can. Birthmom Buds has one year meet. So that’s always a big help to kind of sit and reflect and there’s just something about being in a room knowing that everybody has walked at the same path. It might look a little different but at the core of it they know what you have been through. And you don’t—Birthmoms can feel lonely, the first several years I would have my internet friends which is great but walking around my college campus or high school I was the only birthmom I knew of so the retreats were a very nice to connect and they were like, “I know you.” Then my writing has been huge. I started writing when she- when I was pregnant with her was when I started writing. It was more just to kind of document how I was feeling or what was exciting that day or doctor’s visit and things like that. It’s now turned into my blog and I’m working on a blog. In it where I write publicly to share our adoption and kind of give education or information that’s still how I deal with my grief and process and sometimes I write it more personally and keep it in a journal but still writing is how I work through it all and come back to, this is why I made this decision, even though I’m feeling this right now, I remind myself through my writing.

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MAKENA

Dealing with the grieving process at first, the tears weren’t coming. In the hospital I spent my time alone with my birth son and I wanted to cry. I wanted to feel all this emotions that everyone said I would feel but they weren’t coming and so it was happy. I felt happy all the time because I was proud of my decision and I was okay with it. Because I’ve gone through some other trials in my life, they all—it’s been over a year and a half now after placing Mason and the emotions they come up sometimes, I just start crying I have no idea why. And it’s okay, it’s a good thing. But getting through that, the best thing that helped me was being able to see Mason and to know, because I knew that my decision was the right one and seeing him and see him grow up, it just reconfirm with my decision.

BAILEY

To start at the beginning, I had Elizabeth and the reality started sinking in, that she wasn’t coming home. She wasn’t going to call me Mom and that for me was heartbreaking. The gravity of the situation just started sinking into me and I was heartbroken. I was watching her adoptive parents celebrate and they were so happy and they were very conscious of what I was feeling. They were very aware and they were kind to me even though they knew that I was upset. I was watching our community who knew them, celebrating the fact that they were becoming parents and felt kind of left out because I was not as happy as everyone else.

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I was happy, but still heartbroken, and I had to come to terms with that and I choose [no audio]. I went to college 2 months after I had my daughter and chose to cope in unhealthy ways. I made horrible friends and just did really stupid things. I partied. I just didn’t go to class and my grades absolutely tanked. I had a 2.0 GPA, when I went to college I started with like a 3.8. I really just failed everything. Then I managed to come out of that, not kicked out of the college yet, and I was able to visit Elizabeth in California over my Christmas break after my first semester. That gave me the opportunity to go in and see the life that I have chosen for her and what I thought was a happy, chubby, giggly, little 6 month old that was in the perfect home. She was so happy, so smiley and just so fun and kind of realized at that point, this is perfect for her, this her home. I made the right choice. She’s safe. And knowing that she’s safe and seeing her parents, how much they changed, I got to hear how their relationship was changed and their struggles. They were dealing with sleep deprivation and not having as much time for them as they had before. I was able to see that seeing and feeling the sadness was not negative. It didn’t mean I was disloyal or I was betraying them. I was able to be sad and that was okay. [no audio] I really started grieving at that point. I came back, I changed my major to psychology and started studying to help people like me and started learning about my own grieving process in that moment. I started volunteering with local adoption groups and started loving on people because I am such a maternal person [no audio]. It helped me a ton. As time went on, it started to get easier. There’s still rough nights, Mother’s day is hard, her birthday is hard and I was able to learn how to be okay and what I started to realize was that the pain never ends. It never goes away but it started to get easier because I was stronger. My situation hasn’t changed. I still am a birthmother. I’m still not raising my child but I am strong enough to deal with it because it’s been time. I’ve had practiced, I’ve had 4 years. So the analogy that I like is that it’s like going to the gym. When you go into the gym and you start lifting weights and you go try to pick up the 50 pound weight, it might be too heavy and you can’t budge it, you are stuck. If you keep going to the gym and keep working out eventually you’ll be able to lift the 50 pound weight, you might be able to lift 100 pound weight. The weight didn’t get lighter, you got stronger. That’s really how the grief process works. The situation never ends, it never changes. You are kind of stuck with it but you learn, you grow and I would never trade the things I’ve learned in this process or anything in the world.

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HEIDI

The grieving process after placement initially was really difficult. I dealt a lot of it myself. I didn’t go to formal counseling. It wasn’t an option, per se, through the agency. There’s moments that I don’t remember after placing Colin. Whether you want to call it depression or how your body operates after a traumatic event in your life, you want to call that. I do know I was in bed crying for 4 days, post-placement. Then at some point you got to pick yourself up. I think there’s always periods of sadness. There’s always periods of times when the loss seems greater and it affects you more than other times.

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I think moving through those, a lot of birthmoms I know, through that pain and that deep sadness, set their sights high. There’s very few birthmoms I know who are not very successful. So they took that grief and that pain and it made them very driven to succeed and exceed at whatever they did. I think I’m the same after couple of years trying to figure out how I was dealing with that and I didn’t always deal with it well. I strayed from the right path, got involved in things I probably shouldn’t have for a period of time and then by the grace of God, somehow from my family, my grandmother, got back on the right path and put myself through school then went traveling and through my profession that’s how I dealt with it. I think that’s how at times I continue to deal with some of that. I don’t think the sense of loss and sadness is as prominent now. Its 20 years some later, it’s still there at times if I delve deeper into it and go back to that period of my life, absolutely, but I think turning that experience into doing something good with my life and now trying to give back to other birthmoms who are going through the same experience. It’s healing knowing that you’re making a difference for other birthmoms who are embarking on the same journey you’ve been on for years. I don’t have any great recipe, I just don’t, but I think there’s more support and more counseling offered now than there was almost 28 years ago and I would definitely delve into that and take advantage of those opportunities.

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KELSEY

Personally I wrote a lot. I started a blog 2 weeks after placing and that really helped me. Writing has always kind of been an outlet for me. That was a really good way to find a more stable head place for me. That’s probably been the biggest part of my healing process. I was really lucky to have such a great agency and case worker who got me involved really quickly with education. I did a lot of education courses for waiting parents who have just started the process and that really helped me. Doing stuff like this has really been my way to push past it and do something better. Because as much as it feels good on the bad days to lie in bed and watch crappy Netflix show, I think the best thing that I’ve done was actually take the experience and try to do more with it.

JANEL

This one is fun. The grieving process was definitely a difficult one for me. The first six years I had no idea how to grieve about it. I kept to myself. I was very negative. Nobody knew that the adoption was bothering me. I didn’t open up to anybody. I acted like everything was fine. I didn’t need any help. I didn’t need anybody to back me up or push me along. It was when my 2nd child was born that I parent that I went and got some help. Through that, going to a grieving counselor and finding out that the grieving process for somebody that’s still living is so different than when you grieve when somebody has passed on, so I left.

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I started writing poetry, journaling and email to her mom that I never sent, letters to my daughter that I never sent that will probably never be seen or never be read. That’s how I dealt with it a lot. To finally find the peace 100% with my adoption was when I started working with troubled kids at a mental hospital and finding that I needed to find that peace for everything in my world to be okay. So sitting down and knowing that the choice I made was the choice that I made and nobody else can change that and I couldn’t even change that because then it was so many years later. So I needed to forgive myself and be happy with the choices that I’ve made in my life and the journeys that I’m travelling and just be happy and with that I was able to find peace and be okay with all the choices I’ve made.

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