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The Emotional Side of the Adoption Decision

Adoption is a process, not an event. It is important to the woman's future well-being to approach the adoption decision as one that will have a life-long effect. The adoption decision is permanent and final, and as such, represents a loss. How a woman copes with loss and the grief that accompanies it is the key to future relationships, parenting and a healthy self-image. Each woman's situation and reactions are her own. Some women are able to move on after placing their child for adoption.

The facts surrounding each adoption may affect the nature of the response. In some cases, it may be similar to the grief over the loss of a loved one. Eventually pain subsides and memories remain. Evidence shows unmarried women who made adoption plans advanced further in education, were more likely to eventually marry, and were less likely to require public assistance than single birthmothers who chose to raise their children alone.

On the other hand, some women who relinquish children for adoption report persistent experience of grief, denial, and despair. Women who are not able to deal with their sense of loss tend to report internalized feelings of anger and guilt even years later. Pre- and post-adoption counseling to assist with decision-making and to provide support to the birthmother is essential to healthy emotional and psychological adjustment following adoption.

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