6 Things to Avoid Saying to and Asking a Birth Mother
The decision to place a child for adoption, and the adoption process in general, are extremely emotional experiences for birth mothers. If you know someone who’s placed her child for adoption or who’s considering it, it’s important to be mindful of the things you say to her and the questions you ask. Now more than ever, she’s sensitive and her feelings are delicate!
Placing a child for adoption is an incredibly difficult decision and a very emotional experience, and by no means do you as the birth mother owe anyone an explanation for why you chose to do so. Adoption has become much more widely accepted than it has been in recent years, but of course, there are still people who are uninformed, uneducated and narrow-minded about it. If you choose to do so, you as a birth mother can provide your own unique perspective to educate others on the adoption process and how it works, in hopes to open the minds of those who might not fully understand adoption and the amazing journey that it is.
Depending upon where you’re at in your adoption process, you may have heard some of the questions, comments and remarks listed and explained below. But no matter what, it’s important for you to educate yourself, so you’re better prepared to educate others if and when the time comes for you to do so!
A Few Things to Avoid Saying to and Asking a Birth Mother
1. “Why are you giving your child up for adoption?” OR “Why did you give up your child for adoption?” “Do/did you not want him/her?”
First, a birth mother doesn’t simply “give up” her child for adoption. The phrase “give up” makes birth mothers sound lazy and even careless. Placing a child for adoption is not a decision to be made lightly.
When a birth mother decides to place her child for adoption, she has determined that doing so is in the best interest of her child, no matter how difficult it is for her or how much she wants to raise her child herself!
2. What if you change your mind?
It’s important to note that any point in the adoption process, unless it has already been finalized, the birth mother can change her mind about the adoption. However, when a birth mother chooses to place her child for adoption, know that she’s put a lot of thought and consideration in her decision to do so. It’s not something she’s decided to do within a day, a week or maybe even a month. Deciding to place a child for adoption takes time because it’s a major, life-altering decision.
3. Will your child know you’re his/her real mom? Will you be a part of his/her life? What will he/she call you?
The phrases “real mom” and/or “real parent” might come off as insulting or offensive to both the birth mother AND a child’s adoptive parents. Adoptive parents are no less “real” just because they chose to adopt. Perhaps a child’s adoptive parents weren’t able to have a biological child and chose to grow their family through adoption. It’s better to use “birth parent” or “biological parent” if you’re differentiating between a child’s birth parent(s) and his or her adoptive parent(s).
It’s up to the biological mother to determine whether or not she’d like her child to know she’s his or her birth parent, which is where choosing the type of adoption becomes important. With the increase in open and semi-open adoption in recent years, many birth and adoptive families have chosen to be a part of each other’s lives. Ultimately, the decision is up to the birth mother!
For a child who’s been adopted, it can be difficult to determine what they should refer to their birth mother as. Should the child use her first name when addressing her or call her mom? Essentially, it all depends upon what each party is most comfortable with. It may also depend upon the relationship between the birth mother and the child. At the start of their relationship, a birth mother may very well prefer her child to use her first name. As time progresses, she may feel more comfortable being referred to as “mom.” It’s also important to take into consideration the feelings of the child’s adoptive family. As supportive as they may be of their child’s relationship with his or her birth mother, it can still be very painful for them to hear their child referring to another person as “mom.”
4. I could NEVER do that!
Saying this phrase around a birth mother who’s placed her child for adoption comes off as extremely judgmental. It also makes placing a child for adoption sound like a bad thing, even though it’s one of life’s most wonderful miracles. Additionally, no matter how well you know yourself, it’s hard to say what you’d do in a situation until you’re actually in it.
If you’d become pregnant unexpectedly and realized you couldn’t raise your child, wouldn’t you want to do whatever was in the best interest of your child, their life and their future?
5. You took the easy way out!
Adoption is by no means the “easy way out!” Placing a child for adoption is, in fact, the most difficult decision a birth mother will probably ever have to make in her life. There should be no guilt, shame or embarrassment in placing a child for adoption; but, unfortunately, these feelings are common among birth mothers who’ve chosen to do so. Telling a birth mother “she took the easy way out” by choosing adoption for her child is neither kind nor helpful in alleviating those feelings of guilt.
6. Now you can go back to your normal life!
The term “normal” is quite difficult to define because what’s “normal” varies person to person. Nonetheless, a birth mother’s life will never return to what it was before she placed her child for adoption or even before she became pregnant.
Adoption will change a person’s life forever, no matter what. It doesn’t always make life easier, but most find it to be an incredibly rewarding experience. It’s truly a selfless act to place a child for adoption and to trust another family to give your child the love, care, life and future that he or she deserves!
It’s Not Just About What You Say… It’s About How You Say It!
When you’re talking to a birth mother who’s placed her child for adoption, or who is considering adoption for her child, not only do you need to be careful of the things you say, but you also need to be careful of how you say them! The way you say a word or a phrase can very easily relay judgment, even if you don’t mean it to be judgmental.
If you don’t know much about adoption, but know a birth or adoptive parent through the adoption process, simply try to be open-minded, comforting and most of all, be supportive. The process of adoption is incredible, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Good things take time!
If you are a birth parent considering adoption, and have any questions or concerns about the process, please don’t hesitate to reach out. For more information on adoption, visit us at Adoption Choices of Florida or call us at: 800-985-8108