If you regret having placed your child for adoption, I think your subsequent actions heavily depend on what your initial intent for placement was. If you regret placing your child because you were forced to place, you will need a much different plan of action than if you chose to place and are having a hard time being separated from your child. I can personally only account for feelings of regret after having chosen to place my child.
I would also mention that feelings of regret, no matter the circumstances, are completely normal. Since adoption is a legally binding arrangement, the weight of that decision can lead to very strong negative emotions; regret being one of them. These negative feelings are felt by everyone differently, but they are all valid and important to work through.
The first thing I would recommend is thinking about why you placed. Again, if you placed because you were forced, I think seeing a professional would help immensely in comparison to reading a birth mother’s opinion with vastly different rational.
If you did make the choice to place, rehearse both the pros and the cons you considered upon making your decision. Try to recall the reasons you initially thought it was right. For me, I couldn’t provide my son with certain things. I set standards for how I wanted my children to be raised and wanted to make sure they were met; if not by me, then by another family. When dealing with such high-emotions, logic can stand as a foundation for healing.
Talk It Out
Next, I would talk with your child’s adoptive family to schedule visitations. If you have a closed adoption, may I suggest you contact your adoption agency and see if there is a process they have in place to change the status of the adoption. They maintain the records for you and the family, so they would be the best place to start.
If you already have an open adoption, contact your child’s parents and setup times to visit. Keep in mind that they have busy lives as well and may not be able to work with your schedule too easily, so be flexible and willing to put in the effort to see your child. This way, you can see for yourself that your child is happy and being well taken care of. It can give you peace of mind needed to further heal.
Find Someone To Listen
Lastly, if you talk with someone openly, who can listen without giving advice or well-intentioned but unhelpful comfort, you’ll be well on your way to coping with these feelings of regret and loss. Whether this is a professional, a family member, a friend, or another birth mother, having someone you can be candid with will prevent bottled up emotions and promote clearer reasoning. Expressing all the positive and negative feelings you have without a fear of someone emitting false hope (“Maybe you can get your child back” or “Maybe they’ll be unhappy and want to live with you.”) can defuse irrationalities, anger, self-punishment, etc. Having the freedom to be honest about your feelings on adoption will help you understand your own thought process and figure out what the core causes are for regretting your decision. Once you pinpoint the cause, you can learn to manage them, healing your mind and your heart.
Unfortunately, no one can take away the feelings you have. Others can merely be assistants in your process to overcome these feelings. Doing these things may not make those feelings of regret completely subside. Again, everyone is different and needs an individualistic care. These suggestions are simply a way to start coping and healing.
Being a birth mother is no easy task, and is not a title that goes away over time. It takes time to figure out how you are going to embrace this new trait and how you’re going to deal with the hard time. Try your best to take care of yourself and think of the well-being of your child. As long as they’re safe, healthy, and happy, it’s worth it.
Lindsey Olsen is a birth mother who placed her son in 2012. She is also a parent to a beautiful little girl, and wife to (who she thinks is) the most amazing man in the world. Her favorite things are her faith, her family, and her country.