I thought maybe it was hard to find a therapist with any iota of experience in birth parent grief and loss because I live in the middle of nowheresville. I blamed it on rural life which brings about less resources, less people and less discussion about adoption on the whole. Of course, after a bitter, two year search, I found my wondrous therapist. However, today’s article in the Detroit News helped me understand a little more.
Well, I mean, I guess I already understood but, in essence, it helped validate my horrendous experience of locating and securing a helpful and understanding therapist.
The article, entitled “Birth mothers: ‘least understood and most stigmatized’,” hits on the facts of how birth mothers are often neglected in the pyshological world.
Calling birth mothers a “neglected population” for which “currently there are no definitive guidelines or treatment measures,” authors in a 1999 Journal of Obstetric, Gynecological and Neonatal Nursing acknowledge: “The rarity, underreporting and sensitivity of relinquishment make this a difficult area of study.
That’s somewhat disheartening, isn’t it? There are no definitive guidelines or treatmenat measures. Yet, there are guidelines and treatment measures for those going through the grief and loss associated with death. We research the heck out of losses such as those so that we can help the grieving among us come to terms with the physical and permanent loss of a loved one? So then why isn’t there more being done to research the grief and loss that a birth mother experiences upon placement? And how it both differs and mirrors itself in closed and open adoption situations?
My mind is constantly boggled by the fact that it doesn’t seem important to the “Powers that Be” for birth mothers to have some sort of emotional and psychological help and understanding in their post-placement lifetime. The article goes on, explaining that a birth mother’s grief is real and continuous:
“They have more grief symptoms than the women who have lost a child to death, in part, because the loss is incomplete. Although the birthmother has no access to the child, the child continues to exist. The fact that the woman is unable to resolve her loss contributes to chronic pathological grief.”
Of course, this is where further research and discussion needs to be thrown in because, for some of us, we do have access to our children, yet the pain is real, intense and sometimes paralyzing. I have access to my child. But, to the world, she is not mine. And she continues to exist as someone else’s child. That’s a mind-blowing thought when you really sit down to think about it.
“Additional research is vital in order to develop laws, policies and practices that genuinely address the rights, needs and desires of (birth mothers.)”
There’s an understatement!