Counseling Ideally, finding an adoption counselor can be so important and it's especially something to consider before placement. The lawyers we went through provided counseling. This was my first experience with another birthmother, and because I was never told what to expect post-placement, it was continuously relieving to hear that my feelings and experiences were normal...and would get better. Even if you can't get a counselor, do seek out another birthmom that you can confide in, which leads me to the next suggestion:
Support Whether it's through BirthMom Buds, the On Your Feet Foundation, or another other support group that meets up in your area, get involved! Even birthmothers who are fortunate enough to have supportive family and friends have all shared that having the support and friendship with other birthmothers has been essential in their healing. Some things we'll feel and think won't be things that can be understood by those who haven't been in our shoes. Also, often organizations will offer opportunities like retreats, speaking, support groups, Birthmother's Day dinners and ways to help other women. These can be empowering, comforting outlets that have various benefits depending on where you are in your healing.
Acknowledgment Whether it's privately, known only to yourself, or with a significant other or trusted friends and family, find a way to acknowledge big days like birthdays and Mother's Day or Christmas and holidays that you find important. If you have a semi-open or open arrangement, send gifts and do thoughtful things for the family. Even if you have a closed arrangement, I've heard many helpful stories of private boxes full of cards, scrapbooks, and mementos dedicated to children. Often women find comfort in memorializing their children, whether with a tattoo or special piece of jewelry.
Writing Feelings are going to change, memories will fade and recording these things can be extremely therapeutic as well as valuable in the future. Some agencies also allow a letter to your son or daughter explaining the circumstance of their birth and things you would want them to know. Even if you're not able to send a letter, writing one and keeping it safe can help and may also be useful in the case of a reunion.
Patience (with yourself) A big part of getting through the rough patches is cutting yourself some slack. It's okay to be angry. It's okay, even if it hurts, to be depressed. It's even okay to be okay. Let yourself feel. Also, we're all different, and depending on how long ago we placed, we either may be very passionate about telling our story and helping others, or we may be very drawn to privacy. It's important to give this thought and decide what we're comfortable with. There is just no right or wrong answer, and it's okay to change your mind multiple times.
What have you found to be essential in helping you find your way as a birthmother?