Three Primary Goals of Expectant Parent Counseling During the Pregnancy
A Three Part Series: Informed Decision Making, Adoption Education, and Grief Preparation
Part Three: Grief Preparation
Placing a child for adoption may be the most difficult thing a birth parent ever does. It is important for expectant parents to understand this from their initial visit with a counselor or adoption agency. As with any significant loss, such as the loss of a loved one, a period of grief will follow.
Expectant parents sometimes resist acknowledging that the child they are carrying will eventually become a living, breathing, “smells like magic,”* has-her-nose-and-his-eyes, baby. Putting up this wall is a coping mechanism they may have developed to ensure that they make the decision they feel is best: placing. As a counselor it is my job to help the expectant parent understand that it is okay to tear down this wall and try to strengthen their intellectual understanding of placing. This will aid the expectant parent in developing a healthy view of the adoption and will likely initiate the grief process, if it has not already begun.
Reviewing expectant parents’ past experiences with grief allows me to understand more about their background, how they process grief and how it manifests for them. I try to help the client identify positive coping mechanisms to utilize during the grief process following placement.
It is important to talk about the stages of grief with expectant parents. Grief is individual and will not exhibit the same for all birth parents, but an awareness of what may come will help the expectant parent to prepare emotionally for the grief experience and may even provide hope that he or she will eventually come to a stage of acceptance.
*term, “smells like magic” accredited to Janie Cravens