Grief and Loss as a Waiting Family
Grief and Loss as a Waiting Family
Grief and loss may be commonly associated with losing a parent, baby, or friend. In the context of adoption, grief and loss may be connected (and rightly so) with the birth mother’s grieving after placing their child for adoption. Another area of grief and loss in the adoption world can be found in the experience of an adoptee as they mourn the loss of being raised by their biological family. One area where grief and loss can also be present is in the prospective adoptive parents as they wait to receive their baby or child. While their lives can be transformed by joy in a matter of moments once a baby or child is placed with them, the grief before that joy arrives can seem endless and hopeless.
The wait for prospective adoptive parents in itself is a difficult time as there is very little control over the situation and many “unknowns” in terms of when the waiting period will be over. Adoptive parents may also meet with a birth parent/birth parents prior to the baby’s birth. These meetings are for the birth parent/birth parents to decide whether or not they want to select that particular family for adoptive placement. This can cause anxiety and lead to grief if they are not selected. Adoptive parents may also be “matched” with birth parents once birth parents decide to officially “select” them and plan for their birthing arrangements. Adoptive parents may find themselves developing a relationship and communication with the birth parents during this time in order to prepare for an open adoption. As is within their rights, a birth parent/birth parents may change their mind once the baby is born (prior to signing the final paperwork) and decide to parent instead. This can leave an adoptive family grieving the prospect of the baby they had anticipated welcoming into their family and the loss of the relationship they had begun to establish with the birth parents. Adoptive parents do not get to experience the physical and emotional pregnancy portion of expecting a child, and for them, the “match” is the extent of their participation. For this reason, a failed “match” or adoption can be a source of grief and loss for that adoptive family.
If you are in that waiting period currently, please recognize that your feelings of grief are valid and normal. Although you have limited physical indicators of expecting a child, you had a space open and ready for a baby and for whatever reason, that door was shut and you remain waiting. Give yourself grace during this time as any adoptive family can tell you, this is a time like no other. Reach out to friends and family if they are a source of comfort to you. If you find yourself tiring of answering questions from loved ones about “any updates with the adoption”, do not be afraid to set boundaries or ask friends and family to wait for you to bring up your feelings and the waiting period. They are often well-intentioned and impatient along with you, but it is important to communicate what you need from them during this time. There may be times such as holidays or Mother’s Day or other triggers or reminders that may be difficult so be mindful of this and ensure extra care for yourself if needed. Some waiting families enjoy preparing a nursery while others could not think of anything worse. Some couples focus on enjoying the time together and traveling or engaging in activities they could not do as easily as parents. Some waiting families enjoy connecting with each other while waiting for solidarity’s sake, while others prefer to process on their own. Each families’ experience and feelings are valid and unique. You may want to connect with your home study/adoption worker to discuss what you’re experiencing or you may decide to pursue individual counseling if you find yourself impacted by your grief or anxiety during your day to day. Regardless of where you are at, please know you are not alone and you are seen.
Please contact Hopeful Beginnings if you need support. 847.870.8181Back To Blog