Birthmother Grief

Understanding the Grief Process in Adoption

‎"Neither society nor the adopter who holds the child in her arms wants to confront the agony of the mother from whose arms that same child was taken." ~Margaret McDonald Lawrence


The established stages of griefdenial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, often don’t seem to help the grief experienced by birthmothers and adoption losses.

Unlike the grief felt from a death, the loss from adoption is often said to be a complicated grief or a continuous grief. As life for both parties carries on through the years, the separation continues to add more missed opportunities or milestones that are normally shared with one’s children.

To complicated matters even further, some mothers have had to bury their feelings and have never had the opportunity to express them. Others, refuse to acknowledge a loss from adoption separation, and cling to the fairy tale versions where the birthmother is some heroic figure. Still other mothers, find that it is not until an adoption reunion with their lost children, does the full spectrum of feelings, including grief.

How to Cope With Birthmother Grief

One cannot avoid the feelings of grief and be able to live a relatively normal and productive life. While the grief process is not pretty, it is only by dealing with the grief and loss can one be able to experience emotions fully, both the positive and the negative feelings.

The best advice I can give anyone who needs help with the grieving process in adoption is to know that you are not alone in it. What you feel is normal.

When the Adoption Experts are Wrong

birthmother blues adoptive families bad advice

So what I read is a educated therapist adoption professional who SHOULD have access to all the known research of birthmother grief and is seemingly choosing to ignore it instead repeating the propaganda laden ideals of how we WANT adoption to be. The studies clearly state that our grief intensifies over time. There is no peace. A birthmother’s grief is continuous, disenfranchised and complicated. An “article” like this only serves to lead both adoptive parents and any birthmothers up to fail. This supposed two year window sets a stage where people are going to expect that grief will lessen after two years which is a direct contradiction of the research. Now granted there is limited research on birthmother grief, but that gives even more reasoning to expect that Ms. Mantell should be familiar with the facts she speaks of. read more…

Just Sitting with It; Not Fighting, Not Struggling, Not Suffering

hello darkness my old friend

This is my 27th year post relinquishment, so really, I know what to expect. I know what this feels like. I once wrote about this, comparing it to an old shroud, a mourning veil, a tired worn, threadbare sweater that I must wear until it falls off my bones. Hello darkness, my old friend. read more…

Missing Persons

Missing persons no closure

What’s the Difference? Family of the Missing Plane or Mother from Adoption

I personally find it difficult to understand why our society in general can grasp these families grief, yet they can’t understand or even acknowledge a mother of adoption loss’ grief. Do mothers not warrant the same compassion and empathy as those that lose a loved one in another fashion? Loss is loss. Grief has no rules as to which situation grants the right to grieve. read more…

The Birthmother Shift – 12 Years In an Adoption Fog

shifts in birthmother understand and adoption losses

At or around age 12, childhood is over.
And for birth mothers, it is obvious that we missed the whole thing. It’s over. Our child is in the final stages of growing up without us. Their whole childhood is gone. They grew up without us. It’s done. read more…

Five Lies About Grief & What No One Tells You about Birthmother’s Losses

if you hear the pain in a woman's voice, and choose to shut it out....that says something about you. it says nothing about the voice you choose not to hear

In many ways, you are restarting your life from scratch. You were not a birthmother before. You did not have this child before. Now you do. You are newly born as a mother, as THIS mother, for THIS child and that mother has been relinquished as well. She is gone. You mourn not only your child, but the mother you would have been, the girl who did not live with this sorrow, the woman who didn’t hold sadness in her eyes. read more…

Searching for Adoption Healing and Birthmother Advice

Birthmothers need magicdust and glitter to heal form adoption relquishment

It’s bad enough that the adoption industry is still promoting that somehow it is OK to relinquish a baby to adoption and that the long term effects of relinquishment on birthmothers does not exists despite all the scientific research to the quandary. But by putting the impossible task to “healing from relinquishment” on the actual birthmother; they are also setting her up to fail. read more…

Spouse of A Birthmother Asks: How Do I Tell My Children?

Long Term Affects of Adoption Relinquishment on Marriage & Relationships

And like many of us affected by adoption, for a spouse of a birthmothers, it helps just to know that one is not alone, which is then altered with the desire to help others also feel that validation and acknowledgment. I do infrequently run into other spouses that wish there was more public support. Perhaps one day we will have something really good for you all. Of course, we’ll have to make it ourselves. The adoption industry probably never will, as then they will have to admit that adoption has long term affects on behalf of relinquishment. read more…

Kitten Adoption Can be Very Triggering

Kitten Adoption Birthmother Emotional Landmind

We make it out the double glass doors and I burst into hysterical tears. Not weeping, not crying, but gut wrenching hysterical deep soul crushing sobs. Rye looks at me shocked, I am beyond all logic. I make it about ten steps to the car, and then turn around….sobbing, tears flowing down my face, I am not sure what I said. It was like I had stepped on an emotional land mind and now all this shrapnel of myself was just flying.
I had no way of knowing it, but when I had to leave my “baby” cat behind and walk out that door without turning back..I hit that place that every relinquishing mother fears. It really was an emotional land mind that exploded when I walked out that door. I wasn’t crying over the cat, it was over Max…two days old. It’s no one’s fault that this experience reenacted the worst trauma of my life, but it did. Just ripped that scab off with such a force, that it took me hours to find the place to stop the bleeding. read more…

The Weight of Adoption Baggage

I don’t pretend to know the secrets to get through this unscathed. I know there is no way not to carry this weight forever and not be affected. I know my soul will be heavy until the day I die and I expect that my eternal soul will know this loss for many lives hence. Yet, I have a measure of control, I think. We exist in a symbiotic way, my pain and I, this trauma and this hope, a sadness that fuels the fight. As of late, I find more new moms, wrecked with this pain find me, and I have little to offer, but my ramblings of what I think contributed to keeping I don’t know the answers, but I will share what I do know in hope that it perhaps, maybe, can help another navigate the journey. read more…

Complicated Grief and Complicated Birthmother Diagnosis

greif and loss in adoption relinquishment

It has been well documented that a birth parent that places a child for adoption experiences profound grief and loss, but does the birthmother grief and loss experience fall under a diagnosis of “complicated grief disorder” or “prolonged grief disorder”and do we want it to? read more…

When a Birthmother Closes an Open Adoption

Why the pain of open adoption is too much for some birthmothers

Often, the adoptive parents who are writing these stories are genuinely upset and confused. They actually believe in the benefits of open adoption for their children. They want the mothers of their children to have contact with the children they relinquished and to know that the kids are doing well. They don’t understand why the mothers, and sometimes fathers, of their adopted children just disappear. read more…

National Tragedies, Silent Tragedies


The Twin Towers could really have not fallen down. I could not have really given away my baby.
This isn’t real. It can’t be true. It didn’t really happen, right? With the same horror, my mind tells myself that both. are our sad reality.
And yeah, so I sit around at least once a year and cry. I still miss the World Trade Center. I still my son.I believe I always will. read more…

Oh No, Please Don’t Go! We Lose Maurice Sendak

Maurice Sendak Author of Where the Wild Things Are

Some deaths take us by surprise ( Davey Jones) and some we know are coming ( Steve Jobs). Some we should know are coming, like MCA as he was sick, but still we are surprised. At age 83, Maurice Sendak’s death should not come as a shocker, yet I was not, by any means, prepared.
I think I imaged that he would live forever.
I know his influence on my life will. read more…