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The Grief Associated with Adoption that I Wasn’t Prepared For


I am a proud mom of two under two. My son who can be described as a fun, silly, bold, smart, tenacious, and energetic toddler is adopted. When we received the call about matching with his birth mother, we had about two months to prepare for his arrival. Like every expecting mom, I spent countless hours decorating the nursery. I washed all of his baby clothes so that they would be clean and ready for his arrival. I researched bassinets versus pack-n-plays in efforts to pick out the best room sharing sleeping arrangement for him, but what I didn’t prepare for was the grieving I would experience for his birth mother.

It was a day I will never forget, the day our son’s birth mother signed the paperwork to surrender her rights. From the minute I woke up that morning, my stomach felt as though it had been playing a game of twister all night and tied up in knots. I found myself sharing my attention with the clock on the wall and snuggling our son as if he was a security blanket to calm my anxious heart. The clock struck time for our birth mother to arrive so my husband and I kissed our son, left the room and walked downstairs to provide our birth mother with privacy to sign the documents and to spend time with her baby boy for the last time. The emotions that circulated through my body were immense—half of my body was aching in sadness for our birth mother and the other half was nervous and anxious thinking that the day I would finally become a mom had actually arrived.

After an hour and a half, or what seemed like eternity that we sat downstairs, our lawyer called and said that the documents had been signed and that we were invited to go back up to the hospital room to be with our new bundle of joy. The morning had already been fueled with premium emotions; however, I could have never prepared for what I felt next. As our son was wheeled into the room in his clear hospital basinet, I held back tears, and not happy tears, but the tears that fall when sadness consumes your heart. The nurse smiled and said, “congratulations, here is your son” and asked if we wanted to hold him. She placed him in my arms and then left the room, allowing time for the three of us to celebrate our union. I had envisioned this moment to be the happiest and most joyous moment of my life, but instead I was overwhelmingly sad; all I could think about was our birth mother. I softly handed our son to my husband who gazed at our son with the most tender face I had ever seen; he was so in love and completely captivated by the sweet baby boy in his arms. Me on the other hand, I was staring out of the hospital window crying for our birth mother and the loss I knew she was experiencing. I was crying for her and hoping that she would have someone waiting for her at home to greet her with open arms and a shoulder to lean on. I was crying because I could still smell her in our hospital room and yearned for the opportunity to personally hug her and thank her for the gift she gave us. I was crying thinking about what a courageous, admirable, and inspirational woman she was and questioning if I could ever be as amazing as her. I was crying because I already missed her and knew that I may never speak to her again.

The grief I’ve experienced for our birth mother has slowly decreased over time, but has never fully dissipated, and I don’t think it ever will. She has positively impacted my life in more ways than I could imagine, and I find myself thinking about her often, particularly when our son achieves a new milestone and on holidays. I remember the first Christmas we shared with our son very vividly. While my family was gathered in the dining room catching up with one another, I was sitting near my aunt’s piano rocking our son with tears rolling down my face. I knew how special holidays were to our birth mother, and all I could do while rocking our son was think of her. My first Mother’s Day was full of a lot of mixed emotions as well. On one hand I was so thrilled to finally be celebrating Mother’s Day, a holiday that I had grown so bitter about during my childless days, but on the other hand I couldn’t stop thinking of our birth mother. I prayed for her many times that day and hoped that she was doing okay. While I may never talk to our birth mother again, I will always carry her in my heart and cherish her with every ounce of my being. I will tell our son how wonderful she is and will strive to make her proud everyday by how we’re raising our son.

My grief will never even begin to amount nor can ever be compared to that experienced by a birth mother who chooses adoption for her child. I don’t write this blog to bring attention to the grief I experienced; my grief isn’t what is important. I share my story to bring awareness to this aspect of adopting because out of all of the adoptive couples and experts in the field that we talked to prior to adopting, no one had shared this part of the process with me. There are a variety of emotions involved in the adoption process and as one who strives to be a servant in supporting others in their journey to adopt, I want to make couples aware that this may be part of their adoption story so they can prepare for it. I wasn’t prepared for it at all and found it hard to cope with this emotion on top of all of the others that naturally occur with adopting and becoming a new mom.

In conclusion, I write this blog to advocate for birth mothers and to encourage all adoptive couples to take extra steps in ensuring that their birth mother knows just how special and cherished she is. In the midst of all of the excitement and precious snuggles associated with holding your baby for the first time, please remember your birth mother. As your happiness reaches an all time high, your birth mother’s is likely to be falling to an excruciating low. At this time, it is more important than ever to recognize the blessing she is. It is my belief that our son was and still is a beautiful gift, one that we have always dreamed of, but the first incredible gift we received was our birth mother. It is because of her that we’re able to hold, snuggle, read to, play with, and experience the love of our amazing son, and for her I am forever grateful. To our birth mother, I love you, I greatly respect you, and I admire you endlessly.




5 Responses to The Grief Associated with Adoption that I Wasn’t Prepared For

  1. Andrea Monk October 15, 2016 at 11:26 am #

    This is really beautiful.

    • Melissa Butcher
      Melissa Butcher October 19, 2016 at 2:57 pm #

      Thank you Andrea, I really appreciate your comment. This topic is so near and dear to my heart and knowing that you enjoyed my blog piece makes me so happy!

  2. Jenny M. October 17, 2016 at 9:38 am #

    We adopted our son this summer. We didn’t get the call about the match until her papers were signed and her rights were gone. I’ve never had the opportunity to meet her, but we do have an open adoption and I hope that as she continues to heal from her loss that we will meet one day soon. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of her and pray for her. I’ve encountered so many people that have such a negative opinion of birth mothers, but I think once you go through the adoption process, you really see the other side of it. These women are amazing! I cry for our birth mother all the time and diligently send updates and photos each month to our agency just for her. What an amazing gift she has given my family!

    • Melissa Butcher
      Melissa Butcher October 19, 2016 at 3:10 pm #

      Hi Jenny,
      Congratulations on the adoption of your son–how exciting! Yes, I agree with you wholeheartedly about how amazing birth mothers are! I love all of the effort you’re extending to pray for your birth mother and to provide her with updates on your son–that is so kind of you!
      Enjoy your sweet boy and keep being awesome!

  3. Caroline Cross October 22, 2016 at 5:21 pm #

    God Bless you,Melissa !