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

September 7, 2023

By Adoption Choices of Florida

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

By Alexis Diamond

Grief and depression can often be difficult to describe by those who have experienced it or those being affected at the current moment. There are key differences to each emotion, which is not often recognized by the general public, making it harder to recognize and treat. Therefore, the goal for us at Adoption Choices of Florida is to educate expectant or experienced birth mothers on understanding the contrast between grief and depression, how they can affect the birth mother, and when professional help is necessary. If you are a birth mother seeking help in learning about these complex emotions, continue reading as we explain them to you. 

Understanding Grief in the Context of Adoption

It is well-known in psychology the 7 stages of grief and how these affect individuals; however, what’s not always the same is how these stages come and go and the time in which they last. The adoption process in itself is difficult, and placing grief or depression on top of the already stressful experience can link to negative emotions being formed. You may not experience these the same as others, so keep that in mind as you read through this list. 

Grief in the Early Stages of the Adoption Process

  • Denial: The first stage is one where the birth mother, in this case, rejects reality. This can come in the form of disbelief, often in thoughts like “this can’t be happening.” Furthermore, thoughts that life or the situation is unfair can be indications of denial. 
  • Anger: Anger can be experienced by the birth mother and be directed towards multiple things at once. These can include the birth father, yourself, or even the child. We urge you to explore this emotion carefully, as it can be expressed in very unhealthy ways. 
  • Shock: This can arise at the realization of an unplanned pregnancy or once your child is given to their adoptive family. It can be difficult to manage shock during the adoption process thus, it is important to seek professional help when attempting to manage symptoms.

The Latter Stages of Adoption Grief

  • Depression: The difference between depression in the context of grief is that it is temporary. It can come about situationally after the process of giving up your child, which can feel incredibly difficult to handle. If it lasts much longer and feels as if it’s going on for an indefinite period, we urge you to seek further assistance. What is also important to know is that this can become very serious if not treated properly; therefore, we urge you to seek help as you navigate this process. 
  • Fear: As a birth mother, you may feel fear at the thought of placing your baby for adoption, especially when it comes to picking a proper family who you believe will care for them. These can lessen with the development of a well-detailed adoption plan and the result of becoming comfortable with the adoptive family chosen. 
  • Guilt: Guilt in this context is accompanied by the feeling that you, as the birth mother, “should have” kept the baby instead of choosing adoption. However, Florida adoption agencies will reassure you that you are making the best decision for yourself and the child. 
  • Acceptance: Arriving at this stage will take time; however, when you hit the period of acceptance, you begin to assure yourself that your child is in good hands and that adoption was the right decision for you. 

Grief is natural and not something to feel ashamed about. When choosing adoption in Florida, your agency specialists and support group can assure you that grief is a part of the healing process and that you are not alone. 

Experiencing Depression in the Context of Adoption

Depression can last longer than the temporary grief period, which is important to recognize in order to find the help necessary to mitigate it. There are a multitude of symptoms that can occur with depression. However, the most common are:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue and overall energy loss
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • High irritability 
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or others
  • Suicidal ideation 

When experiencing depression, your symptoms can vary from the ones listed above, or it’s possible that you’ll experience two or three of the previously mentioned few and not others. However, no matter to what extent you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to recognize when your depression has spiked and when professional help is necessary. We at Adoption Choices of Florida recommend you seek help as soon as you can. 

If you are struggling with an unplanned pregnancy and are considering adoption in Florida, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Adoption Choices of Florida.

If you are experiencing thoughts of death or suicide, please reach out to the National Suicide Hotline at 800-273-8255.