Giving up one’s baby isn’t easy, whatever the circumstances of its birth may be. During the adoption process, not much thought is given to the birth parent’s view of things, since all the focus is on the baby and her new family. Here, we present a different perspective of a birth parent’s life after relinquishment of her child.
Irrespective of the cause of the relinquishment, every birth mother, especially those who are single, go through a phase of tremendous stress during pregnancy. The stress is related to having conceived from a pre-marital relationship, the incapability of being able to take responsibility of her baby due to social reasons and having to permanently relinquish the baby soon after his/her birth.
Grief and Guilt in Birth Mothers
The procedure and the legal formalities of the relinquishment process are done within the first few days (or weeks) after the baby’s birth. She leaves for home with the assurance that her baby is going to get a loving family and will have a secure and better future. But the grief and guilt that she experiences is tremendous and unimaginable. The birth mother has to undergo the trauma of separation from her baby right after the stress of childbirth. She continues to live each day with the grief of not being able to take responsibility for her baby and the guilt of having relinquished her little one. This is also a situation where she cannot even discuss grief and pain with anyone so as to be able to maintain the confidentiality of the “incident” that happened in her life.
As a social worker, one does get to witness some birth parents who sit across the table with an expressionless face. One may wonder if she really goes through any emotions at all. But the truth is that she certainly does. But many of them don’t express their feelings for the sole reason that their resolve will weaken and they will not be able to walk out of the agency leaving their dear baby behind.
Life after Relinquishment
The birth mother goes home to resume her “normal” life which is no longer what it used to be. Her physical, emotional and psychological states are all under stress, since like any other woman who’s just given birth, she also needs complete rest and care. The prenatal and the post delivery care is generally the very minimum in such cases. She knows that she is probably not going to see her child ever again. She is forced to continue living her life as before, although she has left a piece of her heart and soul behind forever.
Regardless of the reasons of her relinquishment or her socio-economic standing, she can never forget her child and comforts herself that what she has done is in the best interest of the child. The baby’s birthdays are difficult occasions for the birth mother. Although it’s rare, social workers have known a few birth mothers who get back to the social worker to ask how her baby is doing. In such situations, it is essential to ensure that the details of the adoptive family are kept completely confidential.
Grief of Birth Fathers
Working with a limited number of birth fathers, we have seen a similar guilt and grief as in birth mothers. One birth father approached the adoption agency on the birthday of his baby wanting to donate something in his capacity for the other children under the agency’s care. He wanted to do so as a token of love for his baby whom he could not love and care for. His body language strongly projected guilt and repentance. If this is how birth fathers can feel years after relinquishment, one can imagine the intensity of the grief and guilt in birth mothers even after years have passed by.
If any of you are aware of a lady/ girl or a family or a child who needs help in a situation similar to that described in this or our earlier article, then kindly refer them to a licensed adoption agency in your city. Please refer to the following link mentioned below for details of adoption agencies where one can get help in such cases: http://cara.nic.in/parents/search-adoption-agency.html. Referring them to the right adoption agency at the right time will help them and the child a great deal through legal ways. One step in the right direction can make a world of difference in a child’s life.
Watch this space for our next article on the topic: “Difficult to forget”- An article based on a true life incident
Deepali has a BA in sociology from Pune University; Masters in Social Work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (Mumbai); PG Diploma in School Psychology from Janana Prabodhini Institute of Psychology. She has been working in the field of Family & Child Welfare for the last 15 yrs. She is currently a freelancer with 3 different adoption agencies. She is an adoptive parent herself.