Even if it was the right thing to do, the decision to let someone else raise your child can be a painful one. But there are a few things you can do to help you move on.
- Step 1: Take comfort in the fact that they'll likely have a wonderful life: Research has found that the overwhelming majority of adopted children are well adjusted and very attached to their families.
- Step 2: Forgive yourself. You made the best decision you could, for the best possible reasons.
- FACT: One study found that 97 percent of children five and older know they were adopted.
- TIP: Writing a story or poem about your experience can also be cathartic.
- Step 3: Write a letter to your child, explaining why you did what you did. If the adoption is open, your child will be able to read it when they're older. If the placement was confidential, ask the agency to put the letter in your file. Even if it's never read, writing it will be therapeutic for you.
- Step 4: Refrain from making any other important decisions until you've had time to process this one. Depending on how you're coping, this could be anywhere from six months to a year or two.
- Step 5: Don't bottle up your feelings; it's normal to feel a range of emotions – grief, relief, guilt, even anger. Consider joining a birth-parent support group or getting professional counseling.
- Step 6: Focus on the reason you placed your baby with adoptive parents – to give them a better life than the one you felt you could provide. Your decision was loving and courageous.