Birth Mothers’ Experiences of Support Before, During, and After Adoptive Placement

Emily P. Lapidus, Ciara L. Watkins, Rachel H. Farr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Birth mothers, or women who have relinquished parental rights of their child, are an understudied and stigmatized population. Prior literature has suggested that protective factors, such as supports (e.g., practical, emotional, peer, informational), are beneficial for birth mothers. This study qualitatively explored perceptions and experiences of support before, during, and after placement among 51 birth mothers whose children were adopted as infants via private adoption in the United States 8 months to 50 years (M = 15.39 years) from the time of data collection. Thematic analysis revealed six overarching themes: (a) impact of lived circumstances, (b) importance of early adequate support, (c) an emotionally complex process, (d) access to timely information, (e) feeling ready to utilize resources, and (f) coping with ongoing adjustment needs. Prevalence of Themes pre-, during, and postplacement were shared among participants. Time since placement and adoption openness (e.g., contact with adoptive families) were also important factors related to these themes. We discuss implications of these results for policy and practice related to birth mothers’ well-being and adjustment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)543-556
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Journal of Orthopsychiatry
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Global Alliance for Behavioral Health and Social Justice


  • adjustment
  • adoption
  • birth mothers
  • relinquishment
  • support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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