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Adoption Grief vs. Depression: Understanding the Difference and When to Seek Help 

By Megan Kostraba 

Putting a child up for adoption can be an emotionally complex experience for birth mothers. When they choose to give up their baby for adoption, they are accepting a lot of emotional and physical pain that follows. Dealing with that aftermath, sometimes, can be hard to do alone. 

Grief and depression are two common emotions that birth mothers have to navigate during the adoption process. Whether it’s before, during, or even after your childbirth, emotions like these tend to linger. At Adoption Choices of Oklahoma, we want to make sure our birth mothers know that seeking help is normal and okay!

As an adoption agency, we’ve worked with women who have come from all walks of life. We understand the panic that follows an unplanned pregnancy and that every woman deserves a unique adoption plan for their journey. We also understand that emotions like grief and depression are common in birth parents. However, it is important to remember that these emotions are not equal. The distinctions between grief and depression are integral for your own mental health, as well as being able to move forward in life post-adoption. 

Facing Grief During Your Adoption 

Grief is a normal response to any kind of loss. As a birth mother, you might feel grief post-adoption after you have signed the official adoption papers. At this moment in their lives, a lot of birth mothers have mixed emotions about their choice. Birth mothers know that when they choose adoption, they choose the role they will play in their child’s life. That role is not motherhood, and it can take time for birth parents to understand that.

Accepting that you are not going to be a mother when choosing adoption, even if you want to, is incredibly difficult. Birth mothers may find themselves grieving for a life they will not have. Being a mother and nurturing a child is not the future you receive when you choose adoption. While adoption for your baby may be the best option, it can also be the hardest. 

Grief is a unique emotion that changes over time. It’s a natural response to any kind of loss, be it physical, mental, or emotional. If you are grieving, you might: 

  • Loose appetite 
  • Feel fatigued
  • Become angry, sad, or lonely 
  • Lose interest in old activities 
  • Have difficulty concentrating 
  • Neglect duties 

The difference between facing grief and facing depression is that with grief, people usually find ways to cope and heal. If you are not healing or coping with your emotions, you may be experiencing depression. 

Facing Depression During Your Adoption 

Differing from grief, depression is a clinical condition that can become fatal if undiagnosed or untreated. Learning how to express and understand your feelings is a part of the adoption journey. That’s why we offer counseling services for all of our birth parents! We want you to be able to heal from your emotions and understand where they stem from in the first place. However, if your emotions are continuing to linger and are preventing you from moving on, you may need professional help. 

To be diagnosed with depression, you have to exhibit a combination of symptoms. 

  • Changed mood or irritation 
  • Sluggish movements and tiredness 
  • Sleeping too much (or not enough)
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness 
  • Thoughts of suicide or harming yourself 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of pleasure in activities 

Our adoption agencies in Oklahoma are ready and available to help you, but sometimes, we also recommend seeking professional help. We understand your emotions but also know that it can be hard to handle. Everyone faces their own challenges, and sometimes, you might need some extra help moving forward. That’s okay! As an agency, we encourage our birth parents to get and receive all the help they deserve. 

Adoption is intimidating, frustrating, and difficult. It is a choice that stays in your life and might cause you to exhibit some of the feelings and actions listed above. Knowing the difference between grief and depression might seem trivial, but it also can help you digest the process better. 

 Life before, During, and After Adoption 

Our Oklahoma City adoption agencies want to raise awareness about the challenges all birth mothers face during adoption. Some of those challenges can be feelings like grief or conditions like depression. 

A birth mother’s journey is always going to be unique to her own experiences, but feeling emotions like guilt and grief is universal. We want you to be prepared to face these emotions and remember that it is going to take time to heal from your experience. Whether it’s grief or depression, seeking help to navigate your emotions is always a good thing. 

Our adoption agencies near you are ready to help you through any part of your adoption journey. At Adoption Choices of Oklahoma, we can help you and your adoption together. 

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