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Adoption Grief vs. Depression: Understanding the Difference and When to Seek Help

By Ryan Yau

Dealing with an unplanned pregnancy is difficult for anyone, and the adoption process can take an additional toll. Many birth mothers experience grief after placing their children for adoption. It can be hard to tell the difference between grief and depression in these cases.

However, there are ways to deal with both emotions. While these feelings may be difficult, there are ways to deal with them in healthy ways. Adoption Choices of Arizona offers birth mothers full support throughout the adoption process. This includes counseling services, which can be very beneficial during times of stress.

Recognizing Your Feelings Towards Adoption 

Adoption requires a lot of planning, which may be stressful. During pregnancy, especially, having to put in work during the adoption process can be a lot to deal with. While we try to alleviate most of the hard work during adoption, it can still be hard to go through.

You may be dealing with some negative preconceived notions about adoption. One common stigma is that mothers who place their children for adoption are selfish. These misconceptions may cause you some stress about adoption. However, it’s important to recognize that adoption is ultimately a selfless act. Not only are you going through pregnancy to carry a child, but you provide others the chance to start a family.

Understanding your feelings during and after pregnancy is the first step to a healthy adoption process. While some amount of grief is natural with adoption, if it is difficult, you may want to consider counseling services. Birth mother grief is experienced by many mothers, and while natural, can be soothed with external help. Postpartum depression is a more serious condition that some women may face. It is important to recognize the differences between these, to better understand what you may be experiencing.

Birth Mother Grief

Many birth mothers experience grief after placing their children for adoption. Because pregnancy creates such a special bond between mother and child, this is a natural response to separation. The feeling is similar to grief upon losing a loved one, even if your child is not physically gone. 

One way to prevent some of this grief is by choosing an open adoption. In an open adoption, you exchange contact information with your child’s adoptive parents. This means you have the ability to see your child and even be a part of their life. For many mothers who place their children for adoption, this can alleviate some grief that comes with separation.

Postpartum Depression

If your feelings after pregnancy are especially tough, you may be dealing with postpartum depression (PPD). PPD is marked by heavy sadness, anxiety, and tiredness. Some women experience this up to a year after carrying a child, and the condition can last a couple of months.

These feelings are overwhelming and may make it difficult to take care of yourself. Try to rely on your loved ones for help, and we recommend referring them to professional counseling for help. Your doctor may also prescribe hormone therapy or antidepressants, which can be ways to ease the condition.

If you think you may be experiencing PPD, contact our adoption agencies in Arizona for assistance with how to seek help.

Benefits of Counseling

With adoption agencies in Arizona, birth parents are offered counseling services throughout the entire adoption process. You receive help planning your adoption from an adoption specialist. The adoption plan covers financial and medical requirements, as well as counseling. Your support extends to the post-adoption period as well.

One-on-one counseling is a good way to work through your feelings with a professional. They can help you understand why you may feel a certain way, which ultimately helps you deal with these emotions.

However, counseling is not the only option. If you want more community-oriented help, you may want to join a birth mother support group. These are support groups with women who have gone through the adoption process and who may have experienced similar feelings. Even if you have not gone through adoption yet, you may want to join to learn about adoption from experience. Finding a community with similar experiences is a great way to work through your own feelings.

Understanding When to Seek Help

We are committed to providing you with the best possible adoption process for your needs. This may include helping you through difficult emotions that may come up during the process. If you need information about counseling services, Adoption Choices of Arizona can inform you about any resources you can use.