Doctor performing ultrasound on a pregnant womanWhen you’re pregnant and thinking about adoption, getting an ultrasound can bring up all sorts of conflicting emotions. Most moms-to-be feel emotional the first time they hear their baby’s heartbeat and see them for the first time. But ultrasounds are especially emotional for those who plan to place their baby with an adoptive family.
Lifetime understands that situations like this can be difficult. Your Adoption Coordinator is here to support you and can help you prepare for your ultrasounds. We are here for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to listen to your concerns and answer your questions.
When you get sonograms will depend upon the prenatal protocol of your doctor. Some pregnant women have an ultrasound as early as six or eight weeks, while others don’t have an ultrasound taken until 18–20 weeks of pregnancy. Stay in touch with your doctor to plan for your ultrasounds. If you need help finding a doctor or paying for pre-natal care, make sure to let your Adoption Coordinator know and she can find you the resources you need.
Since every birth mother is different, so will her ultrasound experience. However, most expectant mothers experience a combination of these six emotions before, during, and after their ultrasounds:

1. Numbness or Shock

Being pregnant when you didn’t plan on it can be scary, and so it’s totally normal to distance yourself from the reality of the situation. But reality can hit you hard when you hear the heartbeat or see your baby for the first time. It’s common for expectant mothers to feel numbness or shock when they see their baby and come to terms with their pregnancy.

2. Attachment

Many birth mothers try to distance themselves from their growing baby. For some women, it’s an effective way to tone their emotions down and prepare to place their baby with somebody else.
You might be shocked by how strongly you feel a bond to your baby during the ultrasound. Once again, this is normal and expected. You might find that it’s easy to distract yourself from the baby inside of you during your day-to-day life, but hearing and seeing your baby on an ultrasound reminds you that you’re growing a living, breathing human being.
Whether you decide to parent or place your baby for adoption, you will always have a bond with him or her. If you need to, turn to your Adoption Coordinator for guidance and support. She can even connect you with a third-party licensed therapist for counseling, at no charge to you.

3. Grief

As your pregnancy becomes real to you, so will the plans you made for adoption. Hearing or seeing your baby can help you to understand better what you will be losing by placing your baby for adoption. It’s normal to feel sad at any stage of the adoption process, but ultrasounds can make this emotion even more intense.
Remember, you are not forced to choose adoption just because you reached out to Lifetime. Anticipating sadness and grief may show you parenting is actually the right path for you, or it may highlight the love you have to place your baby with another family.

4. Relief

Some birth mothers have shared that they felt intense emotions of relief during their ultrasound. An ultrasound can confirm that a baby is developing as expected, so it may provide a birth mother with relief from worries about the baby’s health or well-being.
Whether you intend to parent or place your baby for adoption, you will always have a great deal of love for them. This includes the desire for them to be as healthy as possible when they come into this world.

5. Joy

When you learn that your baby is healthy, you may also feel a great deal of happiness and joy — for the adoptive parents you’ve chosen, for your child, and yourself. You will be placing a healthy baby with a couple who will provide him or her with unconditional love and opportunities.
You might even feel pride and satisfaction in your decision and not feel any of the other emotions we mention here. On the other hand, your happiness may lead you to think about parenting. There isn’t a “wrong” reason to feel joy and happiness during an ultrasound.
If the adoptive parents you’ve chosen are a part of your ultrasound, you may be happy to see their response to the baby growing inside of you. The ultrasound may be a bonding experience for you both and prove that you made the best decision you could in your situation.

6. Disappointment

Most pregnant women find out the gender of their baby during the 20-week ultrasound. This news can come with all kinds of complicated emotions, especially if you are choosing adoption for your baby.
Maybe you are already raising a son and find out you’re carrying a girl. You may feel disappointed if you have always wanted a daughter. Finding out your baby’s gender may cause you to question your adoption decision or make it more difficult for you to be happy for the adoptive parents you’ve selected.

What if I feel nothing?

You may not feel any emotions at your ultrasound appointment. Some birth mothers feel no different after seeing or hearing their baby for the first time. So, you might remain indifferent to your situation.
There’s nothing “wrong” or “bad” about feeling this way. Every birth mother handles and copes with her decision differently. Maybe you’ve already accepted your pregnancy and adoption decision, and getting an ultrasound doesn’t change that. No matter what you’re feeling, it is valid to your individual adoption experience.

Lifetime Adoption is always here to provide free support and counseling during your adoption journey. Reach out to an Adoption Coordinator by texting or calling 1-800-923-6784 anytime.

Heather Featherston

Written by Heather Featherston

As the Vice President (VP) of Lifetime Adoption, Heather Featherston holds an MBA and is passionate about working with those facing adoption, pregnancy, and parenting issues. Heather has conducted training for birth parent advocates, spoken to professional groups, and has appeared on television and radio to discuss the multiple aspects of adoption. She has provided one-on-one support to women and hopeful adoptive parents working through adoption decisions.

Since 2002, she has been helping pregnant women and others in crisis to learn more about adoption. Heather also trains and speaks nationwide to pregnancy clinics to effectively meet the needs of women who want to explore adoption for their child. Today, she continues to address the concerns women have about adoption and supports the needs of women who choose adoption for their child.

As a published author of the book Called to Adoption, Featherston loves to see God’s hand at work every day as she helps children and families come together through adoption.