5 Things Not To Say To A Birthmother
If you are not a birthmother, you probably have trouble understanding how these women can say things like “I love being a birthmother” or how they find a sense of pride in being a birthmother. Maybe it makes complete sense to you, but to many people, it just doesn’t make sense.
Society has a pretty twisted view of birthmothers. In general, we seem to be all cut from the same cloth. The view of birthmothers is pretty limited, negative, and sad. We are drug addicts, selfish people who don’t want the responsibility of raising a child, we’d rather party, and we just don’t care about the connection mothers and their children have.
It’s hard to not get offended and upset about the opinions that other people have about me when they don’t know my story. However, I am smart enough to realize that ignorance is really just a lack of education. I guarantee that if you had to sit in on my counseling sessions, before and after the adoption, or if you had to watch the tears pour down my face while I signed my parental rights away….you would completely understand and have compassion for every birthmother you might come across.
The biggest challenge with changing a societal view or opinion is that people aren’t really seeking to change their own thoughts and opinions. When it comes to adoption, even the closest people to the birthmother DO NOT ask questions. Mostly because they don’t want to stir up negative feelings, but I guarantee you that if you know a birthmother, she wants you to talk to her about it – in a loving way, of course.
If you want to understand a birthmother, ask her to tell you her story. If you are sincere and are coming from a place of respect and warmth, she will most likely be happy to share it. If you approach it condescendingly or from “attack-mode” – you aren’t going to be received well.
It can be tricky to word your questions the right way. Adoption is a sensitive subject for birthmothers so just follow a few thoughtful steps to help the conversation along. You might end up creating a beautiful, unexpected bond with a really amazing woman.
5 Things Not To Say To A Birthmother
1. Didn’t You Want Your Baby? Respectfully, this is the most ignorant thing someone could say to a birthmother. First, I have yet to meet another birthmother that flat out said “Yeah, I just wasn’t really feeling like being a mom”. We usually feel as if we want our babies more than most people do because we know what it’s like to be without them. We don’t take for granted the things we are missing. We WANT to get woken up every 3 hours to nurse our infants. We would give anything to be able to rock our babies to sleep knowing that they are safe and that the life they are living is stable and comfortable. And it kills us that we weren’t able to give that to them. The second I hear someone say, “Didn’t you want your baby?” I become angry, sad, and all of the guilt that I live with comes rushing to the surface – even though I know that I chose adoption because I loved my baby so much that I could not allow her safety and stability to be compromised.
2. I Could Never Do That? Well…..if you had been in my shoes and you obviously love your children as much as I am sure that I love mine, you probably would have. It seems like a harmless phrase, doesn’t it? But let me ask you a question. Why couldn’t you do it? Would you not choose what is best for your baby? If I get asked this question I usually just smile and look away because I will not debate my choice with someone who did not have to go through what I did.
3. You Gave Your Baby Away? Listen, adoption is not like posting a free ad on Facebook Marketplace. I didn’t wake up one day and think “Wow, so many people are looking for a baby, maybe I’ll just give them mine.” I did not give my baby away. I went through months and months of counseling, confusion, anguish, realization, anger, frustration, and constantly trying to figure out how I could keep her and make sure we were safe and stable. I stressed and worried to the point of vomiting after searching and searching and never finding the right family, until one day I did. I did not give my baby away. I chose the perfect family for her.
4. At Least You Get To See Her. When people find out that I have an open adoption, I usually hear this phrase or some variation of it. I am beyond grateful that adoption has evolved much further than the barbaric closed adoptions that older generations had to deal with. I get to see what she looks like and watch how she grows. But I am also watching another family raise her. While I would never turn down an opportunity to see pictures or have communication with her or her family, it can be very triggering. My coping skills need to be ON POINT.
5. Will She Know You Are Her Mom? I know this question is rarely meant in a rude way. But before you ask it, please understand that as her birthmother, I am not her mom. I did not raise her. I have no legal rights to her whatsoever. I love her as much as I love any of my other children and if she showed up at my door, she would easily be treated as if she were always here, but she will not grow up knowing me as her mom. Honestly, I would be lucky to ever hear her call me those words.
By asking this question, I get that the questioner is intending to ask if my daughter will know that she was adopted and that I am her biological mother. But the phrase “will she know you are her mom” feels like nails on a chalkboard.
When In Doubt
This is by far a short-short list of phrases you should avoid when talking to a birthmother about adoption, but it’s a start. When In doubt, start your question with:
“I don’t want to be disrespectful, but I do not know how to word this question the right way. I am trying to ask ____________.” Just remind the birthmother that this topic is new to you and you don’t know what comes across as negative or rude. Let her know that you love and respect her and don’t want to upset her.
If You Are Considering Adoption In Nevada, Arizona Or Utah
If you are considering placing a child for adoption, please know that the amazing people at Premier Adoption LOVE the birthmothers that we have worked with in Nevada, Arizona and Utah. We watch these amazing women summon all of the strength, courage, love, and grace that most people will never know or understand. If you are considering adoption, your choice is sacred and we respect that. We want to make sure you have all of the information that you need to make an educated choice that is right for you AND your baby.