Losing a grandchild to adoption can be an incredibly difficult and emotional experience for grandparents. Though the parents’ decision to place their child for adoption is often made out of love and hope for a better future, as grandparents, it can feel like a profound loss. Here are some tips for coping with this unique grief:
Understanding the parents’ decision
As hard as it may be, try to put yourself in your child’s shoes. Pregnancy, birth, and those first few months of parenting are filled with complex emotions and practical hurdles. Your child likely faced immense challenges—financial, logistical, emotional—in deciding adoption was the best choice for them and the baby. Though it hurts, respecting their decision can help you move forward in a spirit of compassion.
Processing your own grief
Don’t minimize your own feelings of loss and pain. The grandparent-grandchild bond is special, and you likely had hopes and dreams for this little one. Allow yourself to fully mourn this loss as you would any other. Share your feelings with empathetic loved ones, connect with other grandparents who have been through this, and be very gentle with yourself as you grieve. Counseling can also help.
Focusing on your child’s wellbeing
This was likely an excruciating decision for your child. They need support and understanding as they process their choice and heal. Avoid judgment or trying to change their mind. Instead, let them know you are available to listen and help however you can. Your relationship with your child is so important; nurture it through this challenging transition.
Considering your future role
Some adopted children have contact with birth relatives. Others do not, especially in closed adoptions. Discuss with your child if they envision any future contact or role for you. Make it clear you will respect their boundaries while also conveying your ongoing love and support. Even if you cannot be in the child’s life, you can hold them in your heart.
Finding meaning and purpose
Channel your grief into meaningful acts of service, creativity, and love. Volunteer for an organization that helps pregnant women in need. Consider adopting or fostering a child who needs a grandparent figure. Pursue hobbies you’re passionate about. Celebrate and nurture your existing grandchildren and other young people in your life. Though this specific child is gone, your capacity to give and receive love remains.
Be patient with the process
There is no timeline for grieving such a profound loss. Ups and downs in emotion are to be expected. Don’t judge yourself. With time and self-care, most grandparents find the pain softens, and they can look back with more perspective, love, and acceptance. You gave life to your child, and now they have given life and possibility to this new little soul. Find comfort in knowing your grandchild is being loved and cared for, even if it’s not by you. Keep hope alive that your paths may cross again someday, but release the outcome. You will be okay. Just take each day one step at a time.
Losing a grandchild to adoption is a complex grief. Be gentle with yourself and seek support. In time, most grandparents find peace, taking comfort in knowing their grandchild is safe, loved, and has a bright future ahead – even if it’s not one they envisioned. Focus on your own wellbeing, on being there for your child, and on finding purpose. You will get through this.