Just like parenting, if you choose to place, your life will change in every way. Simply conceiving a child makes those changes within a woman. Deciding to carry to term, no matter the eventual decision, brings even more changes. Placing your child for adoption brings different changes to a woman’s life than parenting but the changes still exist.
So what are they?
1. You’ll feel like a mother. This is difficult, of course, as you won’t have a child to show for it. This feeling will catch you off guard at times, especially if you were told that you didn’t have what it took to be a mother. The maternal instinct isn’t immediately eradicated by the signing of the Termination of Parental Rights (TPR).
2. Grief and loss. While some people will try to tell you that time eases the pain of grief and loss, the truth is that it simply ebbs and flows over the years. Grief and loss will be a part of your life even if you are 100% certain that placement is the appropriate decision for you and your child. As your child reaches milestones and achieves new and awesome things, those pangs of grief and loss will tug at you. Learning to live with them and process them in the appropriate ways will take some time.
3. You’ll always have an extra, invisible child. When someone asks you, now or later, how many children you have, you’ll always take pause. What should your answer be? When you eventually decide to build a family of your own, your first experience with this will be at your doctor’s office. You’ll need to be honest about previous pregnancies so that your doctor can provide the appropriate care but you’ll also likely have to answer questions about the child and subsequent relinquishment. It can be hard to explain at times.
4. Certain days will be hard. Birthdays. Mother’s Day. Holidays. Other anniversaries. They will all be met with some emotional weight that you will have to get through in order to survive the day.
5. Your future spouse and children will be affected. Not many people think of this but it is true. Especially if you have an open adoption, your children and spouse will have to deal with the realities, stereotypes and biases against adoption. It can also be immensely rewarding all in the same moment. As an example, it can be a great tool to teach your children and their friends that families come in all shapes, sizes, colors and packages. While no family really ever starts with the intention of being an activist family, simply existing in an open adoption brings that into your life.
There are lots of other changes to your life that accompany the decision to place. Some are great. Some are not-so-great. The truth is that your life will be forever changed by the decision to relinquish your child for adoption.