Adoption Grief Stages And How To Deal With Them.


Adoption grief stages and how to deal with them.? Abdication by your biological mother and father at birth or later is trauma. Not all grief is traumatic, but all trauma is accompanied by grief.

Understanding adoption grief is essential for both supporting a loved one and dealing with your own loss.

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Understanding Grief

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross identified five well-known stages of grief. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance are the stages.


David Kessler collaborated with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and recently added a sixth critical stage to the grieving process. Finding meaning is the sixth stage.

This stage was identified by Kessler while he was grieving the loss of his adopted son.

Unfortunately, his son committed suicide, which is all too common among our adoptee population.

Understanding your own experience and behavior through the grieving lens can be beneficial.

It is reassuring to gain clarity about your experience rather than being overwhelmed by it.


The stages are not sequential. You may go through the stages at different times in your life, including acceptance and meaning.

During the search and reunion, you may go through the stages several times in a single day! It’s all normal and difficult.

“In grief, nothing stays put.'” One continues to emerge from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round it goes.

Everything is cyclical. Is it possible that I’m going in circles, or that I’m on a spiral?

But if a spiral, am I going up or down it?

How often — will it always be this way? — will the vast emptiness astound me and make me say, ‘I never realized my loss until this moment?’ “Time after time, the same leg is severed.”-C.S. Lewis

Adoption Grief Stages
Adoption Grief Stages


The 6 Stages of Grieving

stages of grieving

  • Denial: Disbelief that the loss has occurred. Shock in this stage is normal too.
  • Anger: Awareness that someone we love is no longer present.
  • Bargaining: This is the home of all the regrets and “what ifs”.
  • Depression: Sadness and fatigue
  • Acceptance: The reality of loss is acknowledged.
  • Meaning: An acknowledgment that grief will not end, but can be transformed into something rich and fulfilling.

Examples of Adoption Grief by Stage

Denial may sound like:

  • Adoption had no effect on me.
  • Why are you looking for your biological family when you had a wonderful childhood?
  • I’m looking for a biological family because I need medical information.
  • I never consider my “real” family. My adoptive parents were wonderful.

Anger manifests itself as a loss of temper, irritability, or rage as a result of the realization:

  • That you were abandoned because your mother chose not to raise you.
  • When you were relinquished, your biological parents went on to parent other children or had children of their own.
  • Your parents’ rights were terminated because they physically harmed or neglected you.
  • Your adoptive parents, whether knowingly or unknowingly, took part in a corrupt adoption system.
Adoption Grief Stages
Adoption Grief Stages


Bargaining may sound like this:

  • If I reunite with my biological mother, the trauma of relinquishment will be healed.
  • When I discover my roots, I will be able to understand my “true” self.
  • My first/biological family will fill the void left by my adoptive family.
  • What if I hadn’t been adopted? What would my life have been like if I hadn’t died?

Depression and bereavement

Depression manifests as fatigue, loneliness, and heavy sadness as a result of

  • Anger is passing and draining your energy.
  • The untimely death of a first parent.
  • The realization that the fantasy of who your biological parents are has come to an end.
  • Secondary rejection from your biological mother and/or father.

Acceptance may occur if your adoption narrative is realistic;

  • a mix of joyful, sad, and tragic events.
  • You can reconcile what your adoptive parents can comprehend about you.
  • Secondary rejection has subsided and no longer feels as painful.
  • The outpouring of rage and struggle with the realities of your assumed identity has faded.

The following might be the meaning:

  • Writing your tale allows you to assert your individuality and experience.
  • Forming a support group to assist other bereaved adopters
  • Advocating for adopter rights, such as obtaining an original birth certificate
  • When you hear the “happy-happy” or “savior” adoption myth, stand out to convey your adoption reality.
Adoption Grief Stages
Adoption Grief Stages


Understanding the truth of adoption’s influence on your life occurs at various ages and stages.


Much depends on your adoptive family’s readiness to address adoption, temperament, ethnic identity in comparison to your adoptive family, and a variety of other things. All average, some a little out of the ordinary, but all normal.


How Do You Deal With Grief In Adoption?

Three Steps to Grief Healing, as Told by an Adoptee Step 1: Recognize and Accept the Reality of the Loss. Step 2: Deal with the Hurt of Loss Step 3: Acclimate to the New Environment and Reality Step 4: Give Yourself Time to Think About Adoption — and Then Act.

What Is Adoption Grief?

One of the most pressing difficulties in adoption is loss. Every kid and parent in an adoption has experienced some form of loss, whether it was the loss of their biological family or the loss of control over what their child experiences in their early life. Understanding this loss and the ensuing sadness can aid adoptive parents in their success.

How Is Adoption Loss Unlike The Loss Experienced When Someone Dies?

Adoption loss is typically described as a complicated grief or a continuing grief, in contrast to death grief. As time passes for both sides, the separation adds more lost chances or milestones that are generally enjoyed with one's children.

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