Trying to conceive and being pregnant is an emotional journey for anyone, whether the baby came as a surprise, was welcomed in advance, or came as a result of a difficult situation. However, when the mother and/or father was an adoptee, parenthood takes on a different level of complexity.
Becoming a mother or father can be a source of pride and joy. For adoptee parents, it can also be a reminder of loss – loss of connection to biological family, loss of what could have been, loss of culture, etc. At the same time, it can be a sign of victory in having a positive, healthy pregnancy and being able to raise and care for your child.
During the pregnancy, it’s not uncommon for the adoptee parent to experience intense feelings and worries throughout the pregnancy. Even trying to conceive can take on an urgency of its own. It’s not uncommon for adoptee parents to experience times of tearfulness, anxiety, intense need for control, and hesistancy in sharing their feelings with others out of concern that people might not understand or they might not even be aware of what is going on with themselves.
After the pregnancy, many issues particular to adoption will come up. As adoptee parents see their children growing and thriving, they can’t help but think what their own life was like or could have been. Anger toward birth and adoptive parents can be common during this time. There can also be a subconscious fear toward adoptive parents, doctors, and other people of authority that their child will be taken away.
If a child is born with a medical or genetic issue, adoptee parents can feel like failures as parents and associate with their biological parents’s situation at their own birth. That same subconscious fear of having their child taken away can also resurface, leading them to avoid doctor’s visits or family activities.
Over time, these worries and strong feelings can resolve on their own, especially if you have someone you can talk to who understands the experience of being an adoptee. Finding a good mental health counselor who specializes in the adoption experience can help you work through the feelings and thoughts associated with conception, pregnancy, and parenting.