Listening to the experience of birth mothers whose children have been taken into care or adopted
The literature consistently reports a lack of support for birth mothers following their child being taken into care or adopted (Logan, 1996; Schofield, 2009; Schofield, 2010). This is despite consistent evidence of the long-term consequences that the removal of children has upon their mental health (Condon, 1986; Wells, 1993; Logan, 1996). O’Leary-Wiley & Baden (2005) write, ‘Birth parents are the least studied, understood, and served members of the adoption triad.’ The aim of the study was to explore: the experience of separation, sense of identity following separation, experience of contact and experience of support through the process. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with seven mothers who were recruited from birth mother support groups. The transcripts of the interviews were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Four main themes emerged across the participants’ accounts: ‘No one in my corner’, ‘Disconnecting from emotion’, ‘Renegotiating identity’ and ‘The children are gone, but still here’. The findings contribute to our understanding of the experiences of birth mothers and are discussed within a range of psychological theories. Implications for clinical psychology are considered.