It took us a while to heal after my husband and I adopted our son. One would think after waiting for four years that we would be elated and all our deep wounds of infertility and childless sorrow would instantaneously go away. Well, it didn’t. We had been through the infertility roller-coaster and were still trying to recover from that when we got the call that we were going to be parents. The whole adoption experience was a whirlwind and then we had our newborn in our arms.
We experienced joy and love for this new little baby like never before, but we also experienced pain and anger that it took so long for him to come into our lives. We felt elation and excitement to finally have our dreams fulfilled but also resentment and jealousy that we did not get to carry our baby in the womb and give birth to him. We were so grateful to his birth mother and that she chose us, but also wished we had been allowed to give birth and experience this for ourselves.
As a social worker I struggled with feelings I was not prepared for. Both my husband and I realized we needed to open our hearts and heal after our adoption. After many hours of holding our son, sharing his pictures with his birthmother and having open communication with each other about how were feeling, both my husband and myself started to heal.
Healing after an adoption needs to happen for all involved. Certainly the birth parents are grieving and need to heal as they take on a new role as birth parents and figure out how to have a relationship with their child and his or her parents. This takes time, patience, and courage; three things that birth parents have as they make the decision to place their child. Adoptive parents need this too, and so often we forget that we too are in the process of healing. As an adoptive parent, it took time for me to feel connected completely to this little baby and feel like he was really my son. It also took time for my relationship with the birth parents to take shape and for us to find a comfortable pattern of communication and connection. It took patience with myself to realize I also was grieving the loss of carrying my son in my own womb. I needed to allow myself to grieve and find peace as I accepted that I was a mommy now and forever. It also took patience as I realized my husband’s process of grieving and acceptance was at a different pace than mine. Finally it took courage on both our parts to trust that this new family formation of parents, birth parents and child was really OK and all of us would always stay connected in whatever way we felt comfortable with.
Healing after an adoption is different for everyone involved. Acknowledging you are in need of healing is sometimes the first step. Getting the help you need takes time, patience and courage. Don’t be afraid to reach out to those around you: family, birth parents, and counselors. Allowing yourself to heal helps to open your heart to accept more love from those who love you the most. Finding peace and acceptance helped my family become closer and created a place were our son would be nurtured, accepted and loved by all his parents.