Are you considering placing your baby for adoption? You have questions about everything from the actual adoption process to how you should handle holidays after your baby’s birth. National and religious holidays, along with special days such as birthdays, can bring up powerful emotions. If you aren’t sure how these days will affect you, take a look at what you can expect and how to deal with your post-adoption feelings positively.
Expect To Have Strong Feelings
Adoption isn’t emotionally easy. Even though you’re comfortable with your decision, special days (such as holidays) can bring up strong feelings you might not have expected. These feelings are completely normal. While you might not want them, post-adoption emotions are part of the process — and you shouldn’t ignore them.
Every birth mother experiences post-adoption emotions differently. Your feelings are your own. This means that what someone else believes is a normal post-adoption emotion may feel differently for you. You may have ups and downs or a fleeting sense of loss during holidays. These feelings may come and go over the course of one holiday day or from holiday to holiday.
The emotions you feel in the post-adoption period and during holidays may range from sadness and grief to anger and guilt. Like any other day, holidays can bring up these and other feelings. Even if you don’t want to feel them, denial won’t help you cope with powerful post-adoption and holiday emotions.
Set Up a Support Network
A support network is important for every birth mother — especially during holidays. Don’t wait until the holiday or special day to find someone to lean on. Set up a network before you give birth or immediately after. If you don’t have friends or family members who are understanding and can support this decision or encourage you during future holidays, talk to your adoption counselor.
The counselor can provide guidance and help you to find a caring community that can lift you up and support you during difficult or highly emotional times. This type of network could include professional therapists or a support group of other birthmothers. You may find added comfort and understanding in support group members. Other birthmothers can share their stories about holidays, celebrations, and the emotions they’ve experienced.
Create a New Holiday Tradition
Holidays are times to celebrate. There are specific celebratory traditions you may have had in the past or that you may associate with babies and children. Instead of ignoring the holiday or denying your feelings, take the time to create a new tradition. This could include anything from lighting a candle to writing a card (you don’t necessarily have to send it) or baking a special birthday cake.
If you’ve chosen an open adoption and the adoptive family welcomes communication or correspondence from you, ask if you can send a card, gift, or photo. You can turn this into an annual tradition that helps you cope with your feelings.
Even though the adoptive family may agree to a card or gift, you can also write a holiday letter to keep for yourself. The act of writing provides you with a way to work through your feelings and help you through this time. It also gives you something special to save and reflect back on in the years to come.
Avoid Negative Situations
Don’t let negativity pull you down during a holiday. If some of your family members or friends don’t agree with your decision, they may use a holiday as the time to remind you of how they feel. This can add to the intensity of your emotions, increasing feelings of sadness, anger, or guilt.
To avoid this type of negativity, you may need to change the way you would typically celebrate the holiday. This may mean you need to make alternative arrangements or surround yourself with different people for the holiday. Instead of a disapproving family member, spend time with your support group or friends who can help you through this time.
Focus On the Positive
You may not feel like you have much to look forward to on these days. Holidays and birthdays can remind you of your child and make you feel the loss or grief all over again. Even though you may have a negative state of mind right now, you can find something positive in your life. Whether you want to focus on your future (such as a return to school or a new job), friends, family, or anything else you’re thankful for, use the holiday to redirect your energy and focus on something positive. This can turn the day around and help you cope as you move through this process.
Are you pregnant? Do you want to explore your options or learn more about what adoption has to offer? Contact Arizona Adoption Help for more information on the adoption process.