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Grief and Loss in Adoption

Upset woman sitting on sofa alone at home experiencing grief after adoption

Are you pregnant and considering adoption? It is important to understand the emotional effects of adoption after placement. Even if adoption feels like the right decision for you, you might still experience feelings of sadness or grief. You may actually experience a wide range of emotions as you consider adoption for your child. These can include denial, sadness, anger, guilt and shame. You might experience these feelings during your pregnancy or maybe not until after your baby is born. For some people, the feelings might surface after making their final decision.

While each person’s experience is unique, here are some common grief reactions:

Emotional Reactions to Grief

  • Overwhelmed
  • Worried or anxious
  • Guilty
  • Ashamed
  • Angry or irritable
  • Hopeless
  • Numb or empty
  • Lonely

Physical Reactions to Grief

  • Inability to sleep/insomnia
  • Changes in appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Crying
  • Tightness or heaviness in chest
  • Lack of focus or concentration
  • Headaches

What to Do About Your Grief

It is important to remember that everyone experiences grief differently. At different times, you may feel some, all or none of the reactions listed above. If you are parenting other children, they may also be experiencing feelings of grief. It is important that you talk with a support person or to your adoption counselor about all of the feelings you are experiencing. Your Cradle Counselor will listen to you with understanding and will be able to help you work through these feelings. They are available to talk while you are considering all your options, as well as after an adoption plan is made.


Contact The Cradle at helpline@cradle.org or 800-CRADLE4 (800-272-3534).

If you have thoughts of hurting yourself please seek help immediately by calling 988 (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline), 911, or by going to your nearest emergency room.

For the Perinatal/Postpartum Depression 24-hour support crisis line, call 866-364-6667

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