Oct 19, 2009

Post - Adoption Grief

Not all of this research I agree with, these are just some of the studies done on birth mother's grief (there are more but not many) Don't let one study detour you in any way from choosing or not choosing adoption. Ask other birth moms and get several opinions before you decide. There are many ways (I believe) to avoid some of the emotional pain others have experienced in the past (not avoid, but more limit the conditions that may bring on additional turmoil just not needed) Disenfranchised grief...I had heard of it before in Psych class, but never did I really get it until I became a birth mom. 

This disenfranchised grief is when the grief is connected with a loss which cannot be openly acknowledged, publicly mourned or socially supported. In many cases of disenfranchised grief, the relationship is not recognised, the loss is not recognised or the griever is not recognised. The loss of a child through adoption is usually a loss which cannot be openly acknowledged, which is why mothers often suffer in silence...people who have experienced any type of loss often feel anger, guilt, sadness, depression, hopelessness and numbness and that in cases of disenfranchised grief, these feelings can persist for a very long time.  The lack of recognition of their grief often results in them holding on to it more tenaciously than they might otherwise have done.

If I had to describe adoption in one word, I would say it's "Bittersweet" a  joy tinged with sadness That's the way it seems to me. It is the happiest and the saddest thing many will experience in life. It is not explainable with words, but on our main website we try.  Both parties experience both emotions (plus a few more) it is not just one side happy and other sad. There are moments of joy that only a mother about to let go of the best gift she has ever been given, can experience. (I'm not saying extended amounts, but there are minutes) The woman has basically put all of herself into the hands of another family. It's as if they are adopting her too (her heart at least)  She truly must trust them completely with her life and her child's. Once she gets that decision made, then, I think the joy comes for her in tiny glimpses she pictures, of the child's future. She is so happy to see them happy (in her view looking to the future) Imagining the life her child will get to have. It is hard to admit that the best thing for your child...(ok off topic, and this could go on forever) 

One last thing I want to mention about post-adoption grief is that apparently adoptive mothers have it  too...and the rate of it seems to be growing. In fact a google search for post-adoption depression, brins up all adoptive parents issues.  http://www.adopting.org/pads.html and another article says,
"Post-Adoption Depression Syndrome" (PADS), which is not yet a distinct illness recognized by the American Psychiatric Association. PADS can range from a full-blown episode of severe depression that requires hospitalization or just a simple case of the blues that lasts a month or two. The few scientific studies of PADS indicate that over half of adoptive mothers experience it. For example, in 1999 Harriet McCarthy, manager of the Eastern European Adoption Coalition Parent Education and Preparedness, surveyed 165 mothers who had adopted children from Eastern Europe and found that 65% reported post-adoption depression. Other researchers have determined that you are more likely to experience PADS if you adopt from overseas or if your child has special needs."
That's a disclaimer I would of like on the papers I signed! Geez. I don't know what to think of this. My first thought wasn't so nice, it was "Well hell (excuse me) don't sit around moaning about it, give em back to us! We don't want them with a mom that doesn't 'feel' like a mom or is having trouble dealing with social aspects of adoption" Don't spend time worring just bring em back please!" (My worst nightmare is thinking about her living in a place where she becomes the family's Cinderella. It's just, that I am sure ONE family of the last 30 years, has regretted the decision to adopt? Ya know like a young couple who thought they were ready, but realized they have no clue.... Yet I have never heard of anyone 'giving them back' and I assume that would look so horrible on their part, that no one ever does. I'm saying 1 in a million families" The child in that family is my worst case scenario. In the last moments on our adoption day I said (maybe twice) "Now promise me if you don't like her, that you will give her back" lol (of course they were stunned and I could tell already were in love with her-had been for a long time) I had the best family for her ever, seriously...she is 'set-up' for life.  So after my initial shock and defensiveness, I began to understand how adoptive moms might feel this depression too and it is natural for any woman adjusting to a new child and new experiences. They wonder why women are more depressed than men (the recent study everyone covered last week) They said that woman have every opportunity now, excel in the workplace and still aren't happy?  I say duh, the majority of them are mothers! Men don't have the inate biological response to protect their child more than anything (at least I think, don't they want to provide shelter or something? lol I will get my biology book out that I couldn't sell back, and check myself here.)  As society gets more dangerous, of course women will be affected by that. Depressed or not, 30 more % of men lost jobs this year than women..so something women are doing is also keeping their jobs safe! (so off topic again) I was just going to put one sentence before the documents here....and now I also add a part of one study. This is a biased view from a woman that doesn't like, more HATES adoption...so don't take the context to be something I must believe as well. Adoption was very different 30 years ago. This is in relation to post- adoption support:

Post-adoption and post-adoption "counseling"  The mother may have been told the loss of her child will affect her only briefly around the time of her child's birthday. She may have been advised that "open" adoption makes it all better. Openness is supposed to help the child, because he is not completely cut off from his origins. With an "open" adoption the mother may have some visitation or promises of pictures or letters from the people who adopted. But with an "open" adoption, the mother may be taken by surprise by the intensity of the pain and anguish as time goes by and the adopters - the people whoprofited from her suffering - grow increasingly distant or cut her off completely. She may find it heartbreaking to think of the little things - like brushing teeth or saying prayers - that she cannot share with her child.  Many mothers are unaware of their child's thoughts and feelings about themselves and this unnatural custody arrangement. This is certainly the case when the mother may simply has no contact with her child. But when there is contact, it may be that the child does not want to make his mother - either one of them - feel bad by opening up to them with his true feelings. If her son or daughter does comes to her for help in a situation where abuse does occur, the mother - unable to do anything about it - may be completely traumatized.  Some mothers are "awake" from the start, aware their child may not be "better off" adopted, but forced by economic circumstances to surrender. Other moms may discover much later that their child was badly affected by the traumatic separation from his mother at birth and by being raised in an environment devoid of any true family members. From a mother's perspective, it is horrifying to discover her child felt "unwanted" by her. Post-adoption counseling  Books on "grieving a pet" are plentiful - yet there are almost no books on grieving the loss of one's son, daughter or grandchild to adoption. Few counselors in North America are knowledgeable of the intense delayed suffering "disenfranchised grief" a mother may experience even long after losing her child to adoption
. This makes it difficult to find a good counselor. In addition, counselors may have attended "Infant Adoption Awareness Training" in which some attendees have been told that mothers who have problems following the loss of their child to adoption are "few in number and mentally ill". One can only wonder whether people who are grieving a death or divorce are also too "mentally ill" to be worthy of compassionate counseling.   Note: There is a large market for newborn babies for adoption in America. Adoption "counselors" in North America like to refer to expectant parents as "birthparents" or "birthmothers", while calling the unrelated person hoping to adopt a "parent". The objective of this so-called "respectful adoption language" is to make the acquisition of healthy newborn babies by infertile people or gay people seem "normal". The euphemism "adoption" is used to deflect attention from the reality - this is a transfer of human babies from loving (if naive or pressured) relatives to customers.  The misleading, disrespectful terms "birthmother", "birthfather" and "birthparents" are used on this website for search engine purposes only. The terms "mother", "father", "single parent", " family member" and "natural mother" are accurate, respectful, and nonderogatory terms. 
"Why Birthmother Means Breeder" by Diane Turski

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