' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Who can call herself a mother?

Monday, May 4, 2015

Who can call herself a mother?

Jane and Lorraine, daughter and mother
“They call me ‘biological mother.’

I hate those words. They make me sound like a baby machine, a conduit, without emotions. They tell me to forget and go out and make a new life.
       
I had a baby and I gave her away. But I am a mother.”

Those words are from my memoir Birthmark, and are the most quoted language in the book. At the time of publication in 1979, the debate over what to call women who relinquished children was just beginning. Before that, we were “natural mothers.”

But that term was thought to be offensive to adoptive parents and “birth mother” came into wide usage among those who wrote about adoption loss and reunion, and even, some mothers themselves. Concerned United Birthparents (CUB) had already embraced the term in its name, using the conjoined word “birthmother."


Yet not all of us to whom the term applies have been comfortable with this, as the term subtly but surely implies that we are there only for the act of giving birth, and then gone. Another group uses “first mother,” which is offensive to some adoptive parents. Today we are not supposed to “give up” our children, but “make an adoption plan,” a phrase that totally obfuscates the emotional crisis that precedes any relinquishment. Some mothers will only say they “surrendered” their children, implying they were overcome by forces they could not withstand.

DESPERATE PEOPLE DO NOT MAKE 'PLANS' 
I relinquished, surrendered, and gave up, but I no more made a “plan” than a person who falls overboard from an ocean liner makes a plan to swim to the life preserver thrown to her. The language issue on many points is so heated that one can find hundreds of scholarly and popular articles on the internet about “positive adoption language,” lists of what is approved, and what is considered “negative adoption language.” The number of words written about adoption language itself is testament to the intensity of feelings on the subject.  

But mothers who relinquished their children have never been consulted about these lists.

The phrase “real mother” as in, “Are you ever going to search for your real mother?”—which comes out of mouths of many not schooled in adoption-industry lingo—drives most adoptive parents around the bend, yet people being people use it and know what it means, and they also know that the adoptive parents are the ones who do the day-to-day mothering. Both women who give up their children and the women who raise them are real mothers. Different, but both real mothers. 

I never have been happy with either “birth” or “first” as a term describing who I am, though I have had to use those phrases for writing on the internet. Nor have I adopted in my writing the other phrases endorsed by the adoption industry and attendant social workers, as all were designed to make a mother and child loss of each other seem simple, unemotional, clean and done, once a child is handed over. Nothing could be farther from reality.

Whenever possible, I have avoided the use of a modifier in my upcoming memoir, Hole In My Heart, before mother unless clarity demanded it, or I was quoting someone else, and generally used other and natural. Birth of course remains when in a quotation or research paper.

But modifiers other than natural shut us up in a delineated time frame: between conception and birth, then ipso facto: Gone. No matter the conflicted feelings I had when I first learned of her existence, I gave birth to my baby and once she was born I became her mother, a fact that a mere signature on a surrender paper, and the adoption that followed, can never undo.

I had a baby and I gave her away. But I am a mother.--from the forward to my new memoir, Hole In My Heart: memoir and report from the fault lines of adoption. Copyright, 2015
Thanks for ordering through amazon! Ordering anything through the portal of FMF helps.


SEE CHART BELOW COMPARING USE OF THE DIFFERENT MONIKERS FOR NATURAL/BIOLOGICAL/BIRTH. 
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One of our readers, Suz Bednarz, gave us the link to this chart.
The blue line is the use of "natural mother" in Google books; the red is for "birth mother," and the green is "biological mother." Looks like birth mother peaked in about 1986. Of course, I'm looking for that natural mother resurgence.

See also 

Birth Mother? First Mother? Both names are belittling

They call me "biological mother." I hate those words.

214 comments :

  1. I can understand this one only too well. The funny thing is that my surrendered daughter and I are estranged and my surrendered son scares the crap out of me. But I am still their mother.

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    1. I don't have any hangups about what I'm called, mother, birth mother, natural or first but NOT a biological as it reduces me to just my DNA link to my surrendered son that I am also terrified of as well. Seems he has no clue how uncomfortable he makes me feel, the total lack of acknowledgement, appreciation and/or affection.

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  2. I am a mother of four adults, three sons and one daughter. Unfortunately, I was unable to raise the first one. He lives because I brought him into the world. He shares my DNA. I am his mother. I had dinner with him, his wife, his three children, my raised daughter and my granddaughter and his adoptive parents. At that time I thought, "If we were obliterated at this moment and CSI had to determined who we were they would find that all of us were related except the adoptive parents. That always brought me great comfort. You can't fool Mother Nature.

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    1. Thank you for posting this comment - I found it strangely comforting. I've been in a similar situation and it is extraodinarily strange to be a 'real' mother but have no rights or status or recognition.

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  3. A woman who has given birth will always be the child's mother, regardless of whether infertile adoptive mother-wannabes like it or not. Period. It is ludicrous enough for these insecure, infertile, threatened women to go along with a lying, fraudulent amended birth certificate naming them as the "mother", as if they gave birth to the child. Mothers who have lost a child can take comfort knowing they will always and forever be their child's mother. As stated in the oped, nothing can undo that fact. "I smile because you are my child. I smile because nothing can ever change that. I am your mother, biologically, physically and genetically, heart and soul, from the moment of conception until eternity. Every breath you take is because of me. No piece of paper will ever change that, and that makes me smile."

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  4. Lorraine - I think I shared this with you once before but I thought you might find it interesting again. I certainly did.

    Google nGram for the term "natural mother

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    1. Wow, Siz that is amazing. I am going to try to embed at least one of the charts into the blog. I changed the year to 2015 and it seems that there is a slight lessening of the dip down for natural mother beginning last year. Maybe. It really shows the power of the media, the push for us not to be natural mothers....because it makes...adoptive mothers, so the idea was..unnatural.

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    2. Done. It's at the bottom of the post.

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    3. Glad you liked. I find it pretty cool. I am a bit of a word/language/data nerd.

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  6. The problem I have with the term birth mother is that it somehow erases the experience of pregnancy. That long, deep, bonding experience. Instead, our connection with our child is reduced to a few hours of labour rather than almost a year of growing and developing together.

    I'm not really comfortable with any term yet. I feel inside like my son's mother, but I hear that many dispute this.

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    1. The connection and the long, deep, bonding experience, imo, even goes beyond pregnancy and childbirth. We adoptees share our entire ancestry with our natural parents. My NP's parents are my genetic grandparents and their grandparents are my great grandparents. Our shared lines of DNA going back through the centuries is such a profound connection and one that can never be truly severed.

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    2. Robin:

      Theoretically hitting "like."

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    3. Robin, I absolutely agree but wasn't confident that anyone else saw it this way.

      My own view is that, as members of a natural family, we are each part of long story, an ancestral story, that we embody. That's my view - I'm sure others will disagree.

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  7. Fran: you get comfort in knowing the adoptive parents are the only ones who do not share DNA with the adoptee. And that's true. But we were handed over to these strangers, and spent many years being told these were our parents, complete with legal falsified BC's. This puts the adoptee in an impossible position. Someone out there God knows where shares my DNA, yet these insecure genetic strangers are the only parents I ever knew. What am I supposed to do with this scenario ?

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  8. That's interesting from an adoptee point of view. I would much rather call my birthmother "mother" and be done with it. She is my mother, after all, she just had a different part to play than my mum did. But my birthmother HATES me calling her that; "stick to birthmother" she says. So I just don't call her anything now, other than her first name. And boy did it take a lot of time to work through the emotions surrounding that. (Mind you, in saying that, she also doesn't call me her daughter anymore either.)

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    1. Anna, Wow, I am so sorry to hear that. It took years for my daughter to write to me "Dear Mother," and sign the letters, "your daughter," and I cherished her doing so. Face to face, she felt comfortable calling me Lorraine, and that did not bother me. I am sorry your relationship sounds so fraught.

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    2. Anna, I suspect your natural mother feels that she doesn't deserve the title of mother because of the amount of stigma, guilt and stress she suffered when pg and after giving birth. We mothers were traumatized. I'm so distressed when mothers don't accept their MOTHERhood but I do understand it in some cases. Many of us were so beaten down... and very much brainwashed by the adoption industry workers who said that we were NOT mothers. That we were NOT worthy. That we sinned and had to suffer the punishment. We all absorbed all of that. Some, I guess, were just stronger than others. Maybe some were traumatized even before they got pg... and then the damage of the pregnancy and then having to live without our babies just added more upon more. I'm so sorry to hear that your natural mother won't accept her rightful title. Maybe you could send or given to her materials written by natural mothers? Books, articles?

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    3. I absolutely love it when my son calls me his mother.
      I'd also feel gutted if he called me his birthmother.

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    4. Aw thanks Lorraine and Karen. I wasn't trying to blabber anything bad about her, I love her to pieces. During that "honeymoon phase" when we finally got back together she was all for the 'mother and daughter' thing, but that fell over after I moved cities to be closer to her and her family, because she kept saying that's what she wanted. She waited about nine months, and then moved away. I truly believe that she hasn't worked through what she needs to, we've read the books and articles and she's sent me some beautiful letters - but it goes in a cycle. She'll miss me and pull me closer, and then run away again and keep me at arm's length. I haven't commented before on other posts that describe adoptees doing that, because it seems like it's opposite for me and my birth mother! (Maybe it makes a difference that I'm her middle child and she wasn't a teenager when she had me? I don't know, but we've spent a bit of time guessing!)

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  9. The mother goose could not understand why Mother Goose could not mother the goslings she mothered.

    In our often impoverished language, this is a perfectly fine sentence. Add adoption's "magic," and anyone can see how chaos might ensue. Before damning those who would use a modifier such as "adoptive," "birth," or "biological," I think it's important to consider the user's intent. The "industry" may indeed me attempting to marginalize, but it is also true that most poor adoptees who get slammed for daring to say "birthmother" are merely seeking to be understood in a society where adoption does indeed exist and they themselves have at least two psychological mothers.

    It really is not all that confusing for the adopted -- we know who did what-- but I have reconciled myself to the reality that our mothers will probably never stop fighting about it.

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    1. Sad. My daughter's other mother to me was referring to me in my presence as Jane's "other mother" and saying "our daughter." Not that our relationship over the years was all sweetness and light, but I'd say that was a good beginning, right? Of course I found Jane before "birth mother" was de regueur in polite society.

      I personally think that our acceptance of "birth mother" to quell adoptive parents' fear was a huge mistake.

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    2. Cindy AulabaughMay 5, 2015 at 4:03 AM

      Ditto Lorraine.

      We ARE mother.

      There is:
      -mother
      -adoptive mother
      -step mother
      -foster mother ............. and everyone of them can be called Mom. Simple truth.

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    3. Sure... but the problem comes in when some of them refuse to allow natural mothers to be natural mothers. Instead they want to reduce them to a "birth" thing. If some had their way, natural mother would be eliminated altogether. There is a huge push by the Christian Right to do just that.

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    4. I introduce my bmom to others as my "other mother." She seems to like that -- though my amom is likely turning in her grave. ;)

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  10. Anon: you can speak your piece until the end of time. Fact is, adoptees grow up not knowing their bio-mother. We are brainwashed to believe our a-mother is our only mother. The AP's believe it as well. The hatred with which my first mother was spoken of, if at all, was not to be believed. So what am
    I supposed to do now? Laws prevent me from knowing my true mother. DNA has yielded nothing. AP's carry on about selfish adoptees who search. They have said to me: "she is not your mother because she gave you to us. We are your only parents." Short of checking into a mental
    Institution, what am
    I to do with this whole lie that is my life ?

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    1. Julia: Start here: At least you know those statements were a lie at worst, a guess at best.

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    2. Julia, Many insecure narcissistic a-parents still think adoption is all about them and don't realize it should be all about the child and their best interests. What normal adoptive "mother" wouldn't want their adoptive child to ultimately discover their roots, their heritage, their DNA, their culture, their genealogy, their birth relatives? Chances are your first mother thinks about you every single day and has had a hole in her heart since she lost you. If she lost you during the Baby Scoop Era, she probably didn't have a say or a choice, and possibly someone else made the relinquishment decision for her. If she were a teenager at the time, perhaps her father or mother made the decision against her wishes. So many young unwed scared teenagers literally had their babies snatched off the delivery tables while they were drugged (general anesthesia was common for routine vaginal deliveries !!). I would tell you to hang on and have faith that you will find your mother someday soon. You are wise to keep reading and educating yourself and seem to realize that first mothers are not necessarily the cruel monsters society has made us out to be. Many BSE mothers had their womb-wet babies snatched off the delivery tables all across America and then were forced to sign papers while still under heavy sedation only hours after delivery. Infertile women must stop coveting and buying other women's babies under the umbrella of coercion and manipulation to satisfy their own greed. Mothers of loss don't ever get over losing their babies, ever, and many consider themselves a mother until their dying day. Many of us had no say and no choice in keeping our babies. It wasn't an option, period. Society didn't protect our babies and turned a blind eye to the barbaric abuse of both mothers and babies. Adoptive parents were and still are part of the evil destructive adoptive practices that have left mothers and their lost children grappling with lives full of shame, sadness, grief, and unending pain. I waited 40 for my beloved child to find me, as I was told that I would be criminally prosecuted if I ever tried to find him. The brainwashing knew no bounds and was part and parcel of the adoptive mode of operation.

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    3. Anon: My first mother was a 35 year old woman with a career.

      A-mothers wanting their child to know their true roots and heritage? Not in my experience. My a-mother does not even know that I have discovered the information I have. If she did, there would be hell to pay.

      She understands NOITHING about pregnancy and the bond between mother and baby/child. She has been molding me into her dream of a daughter since she brought me home at two months of age. I am to have her heritage, ethnicity, talents and personality traits, because she firmly believes that she is the only mother that matters. A-dad believes the same thing, with the addition of "adoptees who search are selfish."

      You have no idea what this does to a person. I don't fit in with my a-parents, and I don't know my first family, nor would I fit in with them. If I could afford it, it would take decades of therapy to untangle this mess. That's what adoption does to the adoptee.

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  11. I'm certain my daughter and her adoptive parents would never consider, never mind call me her "real mother". I was a vessel. I was an instrument. I was a naive fool. I did make a plan and I never planned on this. I never planned on this betrayal; I didn't realize it was a grievous mistake.

    In my daughter & her keeper's eyes, I discarded her and therefore I am no more entitled to have a relationship with her than I am to expect to be treated with any dignity or respect. I'm a troll and insignificant (to them). I am discarded now. Tables turned.

    It was Mother's Day weekend 7 years ago that my reunion with my daughter began. Then followed 4.5 years of fighting to be a part of each other's lives (against the adoptive parents wishes). January two years ago, my daughter ended all contact. I have zero insight as to how I could have done a thing different to net a positive outcome. I'm confident I entered the situation with an open heart and good intentions. It didn't matter. They hate me for reasons unknown. It seems implausible that the people I entrusted in most have turned so savagely against me. Her keepers, the agency, the caseworker - they all fooled me.

    Julia Emily - I handed my daughter to strangers. I trusted them - for NO reason. I pay for it every day. My daughter does too, likely more.

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    1. Hilary, it sounds for almost dead certainty that your daughter decided that she couldn't go on trying to know you and have any peace in her life. I counseled a woman who was at the airport one day, seeing one set of parents off while her mother was arriving or the other way around, and she said to herself: I can't do this anymore, and she cut off contact iwth her natural birth biological genetic mother. (At least all these words indicate--actual) for nine years. Now she wanted to reconnect and wanted some help as to how. Last I heard it was working out, but I imagine that the mother was ... chary at least of being too trusting of a relationship. Both of them were on Facebook.

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    2. My intuition tells me she'll reconsider contact in the future, given time and perspective, but I don't give it much weight because I can't afford to emotionally invest in "possibilities" anymore. But, when I do try to imagine what it would take for me to be gracious to her adoptive parents again, I wonder if I'm capable. And then that puts my daughter back in the middle of dancing as fast as she can. Of course I don't want that either, so it all seems impossible. Exhausting.

      If she ever did reach out again, I would hire a 3rd party to mediate. There is so much unsaid and I know we'd need guidance to help us navigate. It would absolutely be a deal-breaker for me if she said no. I'm too heartbroken about this, haunted actually.

      Right now, things are best as they are because I cannot get back on the reunion roller-coaster. I also cannot see where we could be meaningful parts of each other's lives with the kind of manipulation and aggressive behavior that was exhibited previously.

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  12. Not really comforted by the thought of CSI identifying us all at a mass murder scene...I thought my imagination was morbid but that beats it!:-) Nor do I feel that my children are here "because of me." That sounds too much like they owe me something for giving birth, which they do not. They are here because of circumstances that came mysteriously together in ways nobody can comprehend or take full responsibility for, fate or random chance, I have no clue. I am my surrendered son's mother. In my own mind that is not debatable. I don't especially care what others think. They cannot make me not his mother by twisting words.

    But his adoptive mother was his mother too, albeit a lousy one. Just being a mother, by birth or adoption, does not mean one is a good mother or worthy of praise just for the fact of motherhood. The adoption should never should have been, in my case, but it was his reality, and mine and I have to acknowledge that or not be fully honest.What gives me comfort is what a fine, brave, ethical man my son has grown to be, he is someone to admire and be proud of, as are the sons I raised.

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  13. "Both women who give up their children and the women who raise them are real mothers. Different, but both real mothers."

    If I had died giving birth to my older daughter, I would have been forever, for the rest of her life, still, her mother. Mother is not a moment in time, but an eternal existence. It's a bond and a connection that goes deeper than titles and political correctness and people's comfort.

    I use "adoptive mother" to describe myself when writing online should occasion call for it to clarify. But IRL, I'm just mama.

    I use "first" or or very rarely "biological" mother to describe my daughter's other mother when necessary to provide clarity. But to me, she's simply my daughter's mother, or I use her name.

    "Mother" is an identity that, to me, nothing can change or erase or lessen or wash away. An amended BC (which I never wanted, but state law doesn't allow for what I wanted) doesn't make me magically the mother of birth (I consider it a lie), and it's sad attempt to erase someone I never wanted erased. I think mother is what she is, and that's how I think of her. My daughter's other mama.

    But that's me. I respect whatever terms each woman wants to use to describe her relationship to her child. And I respect whatever terms each adoptee wants to use to describe her parents. What Cherry said: "The problem I have with the term birth mother is that it somehow erases the experience of pregnancy. That long, deep, bonding experience." That to me really hits it. It's more than just giving birth. I am uncomfortable with birth mother because it sounds like a moment in time rather than a complete experience that goes from pregnancy throughout the mother's life.

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    1. Tiffany Mama--do you think you could try out "natural mother" sometimes with doctors, neighbors, family and see how that goes? Coming from you it would mean more than us...mere mothers pushing the usage. If you can do it, PLEASE email us through forumfirstmother@gmail. com and let us know how it goes. I really am curious.

      The only time I ever really got angry over the use of "birth" was when an a acquaintance who is an adoptive mother corrected a friend of mine shortly after my daughter died: my daughter was only my "birth daughter," not my daughter as my friend was referring to my daughter, whom my friend had known since she was a teenager.

      I have always wanted to say to this woman: How is your adoptive daughter doing these days? I mean, it wouldn't be out of line, would it, considering that she is a strict vocabularist. If there is such a word. Actually, there is....:)

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    2. It shouldn't matter more what adoptive parents say and do, but you are right, sadly. What your friend said is so very offensive. Like I said, I respect the terms that the person impacted by the situation uses. My daughter may someday choose different words. Right now, she uses first names, although I do also refer to them as mom and dad to her. I hope that I instill in her the kindness to be respectful of her choice of words in regards to her parent's feelings as well as true to her own feelings and beliefs.

      I always use "[daughter's name]'s mom/dad" or just their names. It's only ever online that I use first mother since it gets confusing sometimes otherwise, and I don't use names, like I would IRL.

      I get mixed reactions, but they are overall neutral. My parents seem to have no issues at all with it, and they also use the same language. My husband's parents use first names only. Other people have sometimes questioned it in a rather confused or curious sort of way (not at all accusatory) as I don't use first names with acquaintances or strangers, so it's always "[daughter's name]'s mom/dad." I explain that they are my daughter's parents, so that's what we call them. I've used it with multiple doctors for years with no seeming reaction. Just a few weeks ago, I took my daughter in and discussed a medical issue that I thought might be related to her mom's health history, and I used "her mom" and had no visible reaction, and the pediatrician used the same language when responding to me. The only outright negative reaction I have experienced was in an online forum from a rather aggressive adoptive mom. She was particularly offended by my acceptance of my daughter's parents and had no trouble telling me how awful a mother I am and that I am not a "real" mom because of it, just a temporary guardian and a co-parent.

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    3. Ah Tiffany, you're such a tonic, honestly.

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    4. Cindy AulabaughMay 6, 2015 at 1:00 AM

      Tiffany you are a soothing balm to a wounded heart.

      I had to laugh at the 'rather aggressive adoptive moms' comment, because unless someone has only and forever been a single parent with a child brought by uh,...the *stork*, and that child needs continued 'guardianship' after reaching adulthood, aren't ALL parents 'temporary guardians and co-parents'?

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  14. The chart above confirms what I've been claiming for years. Natural mother was the adoption indu$try standard until it started slowly changing through the 1970s to the present. Also, contrary to what many believe, the term "birth" for mothers was not created or coined through CUB or a CUB member. It was coined by Pearl S. Buck who first used it in a magazine article in 1955 and then again in another article in 1956. She was, as has been claimed, a friend of a well known adoption workers, Marietta Spencer. It is believed this is how the term caught on and ran rampant. It should NOT be used. It is oppressive and marginalizing. It does render mothers to walking uteri and brood mares, as those who practice in and profit from infant adoptions push for. The plan and wish by them is to completely erase the natural mother in favor of those who adopt. The ones who deserve and need the qualifier/prefix would be step and adoptive. If you'd like to learn more, see my article "Whitewashing Adoption" at Social Science Research Network
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2195774

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    1. Gee Karen, I do not identify myself or any of my friends as "walking uteri or brood mares." That is YOUR interpretation of the term "birthmother, and it IS insulting. The supposed horrendous connotations of this neutral word were put there by a certain faction in adoption reform in the 90s, and have gone way beyond any original use of the term. No matter who first used the term, it was popularized in the 70s by Lee Campbell of CUB and others. That it was picked up as part of "positive adoption language" does not make it an evil term with mysterious powers to destroy! Language changes, words fall in and out of fashion. It is not the big deal some have made it.

      It is not words that caused us to lose our babies to the adoption industry. As you have stated, the word in vogue when the largest group of mothers surrendered was "natural mother", and it did not get us any respect nor better treatment from adoption facilitators nor society in general. Bringing back the term "natural mother" will not protect young mothers today from the worst of the adoption industry and their new tactics. We have not been "completely erased", we are here, vocal, and fighting for reform.We would do much better in this fight if we did not engage in wars with each other over which word is more correct and which should "never" be used. By all means use the word you feel comfortable with, avoid those you hate,, but do not dictate to the rest of us.

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    2. Gee maryann, you seem to enjoy being oppressed and marginalized. Those, like you, who like to use and promote that disgusting term are not just hurting yourself but ME, too. This is why it should NOT be used. And again, it was NOT coined by CUB or anyone at CUB, as you all like to keep professing. I would not be proud of embracing a term that many mothers, myself included, find insulting and demeaning. So you can call yourself that despicable term, but leave the rest of us out of it. Why do you, and others, refuse to be progressive? As Rickie Solinger said on stage at the adoption conference in 2010, people evolve and words evolve with them (paraphrasing). Words are weapons so I hope many will stop using those weapons against mothers who did not choose to surrender their babies. Our babies were stolen. = we are MOTHERS reclaiming our MOTHERhood.

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    3. Karen, I agree with your viewpoint on this.

      Another reason I dislike the term 'birthmother' is that I feel it reduces what my son and I are to each other, and what our separation from each other felt like, the devastating impact on us. Naming us as mother and son, separated, is the only way of making sense of the immense grief we have both felt as a result. Naming us as mother and son SHOWS what adoption does - it divides and separates a mother and her child. Let's name the beast for what it is.

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    4. maryanne, you are right in thing using "natural mother" will not protect young mothers from the worst the agencies dish out, but it does imply more than birth mother does and makes me feel better about myself, even today. that's why I am going to do my damdest to lift the usage by sticking to it in Hole in My Heart. It's only one book but I see no good reason not to use natural mother.

      And it's hard to know the influence of a word--keep referring to someone as our "birth mother" and she does sound like a servant. Natural mother implies something different--and simply more of a mother. It might not change the world, but it's a first step.

      However, even as we write about this here, we want newbies to find us and so I can't /won't change the name of firstmotherforum.com with the [Birth mother] in parens. And I do know first mother makes a lot of adoptive parents crazy.

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    5. Karen, I do not enjoy being "oppressed and marginalized", but you seem to enjoy oppressing , marginalizing, and insulting me and anyone who does not use the terminology you prefer. I am not promoting anything, but I reserve the right to use the words I choose. You are the one imputing terrible negative meaning to the term "birthmother". I do not mean or use it that way, so if you take offense where no offense is meant, perhaps the problem is in your perception.

      Lorraine, the words "birthmother" and "natural mother" are the same to me, they do not evoke the feelings that they do for you, but I fully support you going by your feelings and using "natural mother" in your book. If the words affected me that way I would prefer "natural mother" as well. I can also see why you use "birth mother" in your blog name for practical reasons. That makes sense. You are not promoting the term, but using it to get your message out to the most people who need to hear it.

      Cherry, adoption separated me and my son too. No terms I use can change that, nor can any term make me more or less the mother of my son. Obviously our feelings about this differ, and you too should use the words that work for you and comfort you. There are many valid and personal perspectives on the issue of naming; it is good that they can be aired here.

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    6. I also think that the words we use frame how we think.

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    7. Or how we think influences the words we use.I imagine most of us mothers who post here think similar thoughts about our bad experience with adoption, regardless of the words we use.

      It goes both ways. What is being ignored in the debate over taking offense at words OTHERS use is context and intent of the writer or speaker. If all we see is a word that becomes like a red flag to a bull and the rest of what the person is saying is misinterpreted because of that word,, real communication is lost and rhetoric wars ensue. We have to really listen and understand the meaning the speaker wishes to convey, not react only to the terms employed.

      The adoption industry can use the word birthmother applied to a pregnant mom who has not yet surrendered to encourage surrender. We all agree that is wrong and a form of coercion. But a person working for adoption reform, or writing an article favorable to our cause can also use the term :birthmother" with no ill intent. It is a word most in use now for a mother who gave up a child, but it does not have any of the resonance for the general public that is has for some people in adoption reform. If we get into arguments with our allies or those who are neutral correcting their word usage and taking offense, we lose their support and understanding and come across as fanatics. We do not educate, but alienate.

      We were treated horribly when they called us natural mothers. The softer word did not make it a softer world. We should all call ourselves whatever term we find most comforting and fitting, but there is no consensus that one term works for all, or even that one term is always wrong and another always right. Context and is everything.

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    8. Cindy AulabaughMay 6, 2015 at 1:27 AM

      Maryanne, much of the problem with the -birth- term and it's usage in replacing plain ole' mother, is the very fact that it minimizes the importance of mother and the necessary and vital bond of and between mother and child. Most of us have studied, read and learned enough and KNOW from firsthand experience the damage that is caused when that bond is -unnaturally- broken, and so too, do many of the '''''experts'''''''.

      Hearing that birth prefix in front of the word mother, for those of us that were forced by foul means, to lose our child, tears something out of us ever. single. time. we hear it. It hurt me way long before I learned what other mothers (or as you say ''a certain faction'') thought about the word. It hurts with a fierce grip of losing my son and motherhood all over again.

      You say, "The adoption industry can use the word birth mother applied to a pregnant mom who has not yet surrendered to encourage surrender. We all agree that is wrong and a form of coercion."
      Yes! And maybe they are so comfortable using it in such a despicable manner because many mothers accepted the label and allowed them to run with it.

      Karen, I agree with you as well.

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  15. Whenever my daughter is talking to me - the moment she calls me "mom" or particularly "mommy" I know that the cycle is about to hit the wall again and soon there will be abusive statements and then the usual shut down, stalking, etc. To me it is a precursor to more hatred. If she really thought about it, she would realize it.....

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  16. When I got my non-identifying info from Spence Chapin it was full of ridiculous industry speak. It referred to my "paternal birth grandfather" and"maternal birth grandmother".

    What a confusing load of crap! Those are my grandparents, for goodness sakes.

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  17. While I have no problem with the terms "birthmother",or" birthparent" the extension to other family members is ridiculous and grating..."birth grandparent, birth aunt birth dog etc....In conveying information to an adoptee, "maternal grandparents" etc is perfectly clear and does the job.

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  18. In adoption there are 2 mothers. And everyone knows that, deep in their hearts they know it. How much people want to accept, well thats another story. Back in my "in the fog" days I would have said that I will decide who my mother is and who is not. I needed to feel some control of my own life and that was one way of doing it. I would not allow any one faction(natural or adoptive mothers) tell ME where my loyalties lie, whom I should love the most, and all the reasons thrown at me as to why I should or should not feel something. In time reality sinks in. In spite of many people telling me that you can only have one mother, that usually being said from people not involved in adoption, I KNOW that adoptees have two and they are both called mothers. In my circumstance they both are very much deserving of the title. Finally getting to that point gave me some peace and helped with the confusion of being adopted. The fact that neither one of them vied to be the most important mother helped.

    Just saw a show where a young man was thanking his foster mother for taking him in as a teen. He was the son of a bipolar/schizophrenic mother and had been bounced in and out of foster car. Father was in jail. He stated more then once how he so appreciated her for loving him AND HIS MOTHER. He appreciated the love shown to his mother as well as him because no matter what he still loved his mother even with the horrible life he had as a child. Thats the kind of education PAPS need that the child just might love their first mothers no matter what and it's ok.
    There are 2 mothers in adoption, no matter what the relationships are, no matter how good or bad either is. And they are both called mother.

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    1. Yes. Dpen. As I say in the initial post, both are mothers. I just got creamed however on Facebook for posting those first lines that are from Birthmark. An adoptee was, well, extremely angry, and wouldn't leave it alone, even though both mothers and other adoptees came to my defense.

      Thank you for your words here today.

      I saw that show too but missed the part that you mention as I was half paying attention and doing something else at the same time.

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  19. Though I don't say so in the blog here (or the forward to Hole in My Heart), I have never been happy with either birth mother or especially .... birthmother! Adoptiveparents are never written as one word! Let's at least make it two words if it must be used, so "birth" can be nicked off. But as I say, I have personally recoiled from it while mostly enduring it. But I have never, to my knowledge, said...I was my daughter's "birth mother." I have always disliked it and avoided using it. It's just a putdown. Other mother does it for me.

    Personally, CUB's adopting the word (first written apparently by Pearl Buck) did spread its usage and indicated our acceptance of the term, and put us in our place at the same time. I don't see a lot of difference between "birth mother" and "biological mother." Sometimes I like biological even better because is it not so imbued with agency influence or sound so chirpy and resigned and happy as "birth mother" can.

    But one must remember that when folks like Lee Campbell, maryann and I got involved, the situation was pretty toxic for all of us. We were pariahs. We are still today, but at least people are aware of us.

    I do feel that it is time for us to take back the language and use words that are not subtle putdowns, as birth mother is. I remember being introduced once to an adoptive grandmother as someone's "birth mother." I remember feeling--I gotta get out of her! Actually my friendship did end when my friend--the adoptive mother--noted that I should stop saying: I gave her up. She was into the "plan" that I made. So you see, it does all roll together. Birth mothers make neutral adoption plans. Natural mothers give up their babies with tears and grief.

    Language can change. Consider how "colored" evolved from that to Black to African-American and now many prefer "black," noting that they were born here, NOT in Africa, like Charlize Theron, who is an African-American.

    Natural mothers, UNITE!

    The idea of "birthdog" brought a smile to my face this morning.

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    1. I think the terms birth mother and biological mother, and the same for fathers, actually, represented the connection from the point of view of the adoptees from the BSE, when little to nothing else was known about the first or natural parents.

      Those terms represented the original expectation at the time of relinquishment, that the natural parents would forever be a question - who ARE my birth parents, who are my biological parents? but they also represent the transition that inevitably occurred as adoptees and natural parents sought to answer that question instead of staying quietly within the expectation.

      For instance, CUB was created to give natural parents a voice, that otherwise they did not have owing to the offensiveness of their very existence. What was so objectionable about these people? That they had given birth to, and were biologically related to, adoptees who otherwise were parented by others. Everything else could be stripped away by the system save these two facts - connections - that could not be denied. In this way these labels empowered those voices...

      Actually i find the group's entire title 'Concerned United Birthparents' to be a weak moniker in this day and age, it asks permission, as in please don't dismiss us, we are merely concerned, and have some small reason or right to be so, as we have a connection through birth. and there are a few of us not just one so please take us seriously. But I'm guessing that for the time that it was created it served the very necessary 'respectful' foot in the door.

      I guess I find myself on the extreme middling path, I find the words 'birth parents' and 'biological parents' simultaneously ARE and ARE NOT offensive; they are necessary to describe an incredibly offensive time and history. Retroactively changing the terms amounts to re-writing history; but continuing their formal usage today is obscene.

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    2. Natural mothers unite! You have nothing to lose but your names.

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    3. How about a bumper sticker- Natural Mothers United? Could be useful for beginning a new organization with honest adoption language as well. Just rambling thoughts.

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    4. Love it! How about Natural Mothers United for Adoption Reform?

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    5. '...Birth mothers make neutral adoption plans. Natural mothers give up their babies with tears and grief. '

      Absolutely, Lorraine. This painful reality is what the bland words hide. Then people get the notion that adoption is a reasonable option, a pain-free, win-win option. An option blessed by prancing, rainbow-farting unicorns.

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    6. Love it! Natural Mothers United for Adoption Reform.

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    7. good name :) i agree. what about the fathers?

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    8. See what you started Lorraine:)

      Way to go Jane!

      Kaisa you're right, fathers in no way should be minimized or 'dismissed'. That's gone on for -far- too long.

      Amend to?: Natural Parents United for Adoption Reform. I'm hitting like!

      Cherry, Thanks to you for a fit of giggles. "prancing, rainbow-farting unicorns" indeed. Words ARE important, and they do affect and influence- greatly. What could NPUAR's opposite to the above unicorn be? Oooh wait, I know!, I know!, Has anyone seen the movie War Horse? Where the horse ends up tangled in the barbed wire? Feels about right to me.

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    9. Cindy AulabaughMay 7, 2015 at 1:24 AM

      Or, instead of 'War Horse', how about 'Hachi'? That movie turned out to be the best way I found to 'reach' people with what it feels like to lose a child to adoption. The heavy sorrow and longing and I'll wait and hope to be with you again until the day I die.... yup. It says it. Combine the two and they say perfectly, how this mother was, ''touched by adoption''.

      Yes, being found helps.

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  20. Cherry, glad you agree. We must return to reality-based terms. There are many people out there with an agenda. And that agenda is to completely erase who a natural mother is. Mothers are important. Probably THE MOST important in the world since they, like God, create life. It is NOT okay to reduce who they are to a "birth" thing. And these terms (birth and biological) are used by those operating in the adoption indu$try to more easily remove natural mothers from their own children. It is a TOOL used by predators.

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  21. Oh good grief, maryanne, own what you say and say what you mean. You talk about how the term is okay... and you state that CUB is responsible for it's existence. So do you promote it's use or not? Yes, you do. You don't speak against the use of it so that is promoting it. I don't oppress or marginalize anyone because I don't state that they should use a demeaning or offensive term for themselves. I support and encourage the use of natural mother or simply mother because that is reality. And yes, I do take issue with those who use the term "birth" for mothers as I view that as promoting the agenda of the adoption indu$try to keep mothers "in their place" by using the "birth" prefix to describe mothers who have had their babies taken from them. So decide. If you like the term, and if you say you and others can and will use it, you ARE oppressing others and marginalizing others. You can't have it both ways. And yes, I know some take issue with me for my stance on this issue. Again, this is from not only being a natural mother who is sick of being "kept down" by others with an agenda and from the 18 years of research I've undertaken wherein those authors and writers all called us natural mothers and mothers until they learned a new way to insult and offend by the use of "birth" for us. And again, Pearl S. Buck invented the term and she adopted. And Marietta Spencer is viewed as using it herself since they knew each other and she was an adoption worker who was well known in the field. This argument is getting repetitive so I have said all I have to say on the matter. I assume you will continue to defend your use of the term and the others you know who feel they have a right to do the same. But when you and others use it, you are hurting all mothers of adoption loss. Period.

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    1. If only one word really had such power. I am not oppressing or marginalizing anyone. I do not care who invented the term.I am not giving credence to your insults. I do not care what term anyone uses, as long as their intent in the rest of what they are saying is good. We did not lose our children because of a word, and changing the word will not save future mothers from similar loss. There is much work to be done in adoption reform. Fighting over words accomplishes nothing and distracts from the real issues.

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    2. Karen said: " I support and encourage the use of natural mother or simply mother because that is reality." I too am all in favor of reality and have no objection to anyone using the term "natural mother". But since we are talking reality here, reality for the adopted person is more complicated than for the non-adopted, because reality is that adoptees have two different kinds of real mothers, and if they are in relationship with both, the complications of reality multiply. When either side is insisting on supremacy, the poor adoptee gets squashed between their demands.

      It is not reality to insist that only giving birth makes one a mother, at least not to the child who is raised by someone other than the mother who gave birth. Nor is it reality for some adoptive parents to insist that they are the only real mother, and that biology and genetics do not matter. Reality embraces the complications of having two mothers and two fathers, of having two families, one genetic/biological/natural, the other psychological/social/legal. Anyone who insists on erasing either family in favor of the other is dealing in illusion, not reality. Saying that no child should ever be raised by anyone other than biological relatives is also not dealing with reality; in an imperfect world there will always be a need for some kind of adoption, hopefully without the secrets and lies.

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  22. My recently found daughter calls me by my first bame, when she speaks to me at all. Which isn't often and is often cold and stand offish. We met, face to face, finally! at a restaurant where one of her friends was leaving (I went to her, she would never come to me) and she stopped by the table. I introduced myself as her mother, my daughter (who still must be gulping the Kool-aid by the gallonfull) showed some emotion, but it was anger as she hotly denied I was her mother and I was not to refer to myself that way. It went downhill from there. I'm not sorry, I am her mother! Hopefully she'll come around sooner rather than later, I can wait. I forced myself to wait this long. But it is a pain worse than when I surrendered her to hear her deny me in public, in private....to just deny me and by extension, herself.

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  23. What really drives me nuts is using "birth mother" for a pregnant women. I see ads on Facebook, the Oregon Women Lawyer's list, etc for a "birth mother" as though there are self-identified women running around looking for someone to give their babies to. Sadly in this entitled society some think that.

    The Oregon statutes also use birth mother for a woman who has not given birth or consented to adoption, showing the power of the adoption lobby.

    Next in line of irritation is the use of "birth father" even though the man clearly has not given birth and the adoption has not taken place.

    It's interesting to note that natural mothers typically refer to their lost child as son or daughter and the kept children of natural mothers refer to their new-found sibling as sister or brother, no adjectives. Adoptees, though seem to need a modifier when referring to natural mothers and siblings. Sometimes it's necessary for clarity but it often seems they do it to erect barriers between themselves and their bio-relatives.

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    1. It seems clear to me that the reason for calling pregnant women "birth mothers" is to cultivate a narrative that the adoption is already a done deal. The goal is to make it feel as if the baby is already the child of the PAPs and failing to sign the papers would be tantamount to stealing "their" child from them.

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    2. For the record, I resent this line: "often seems they do it to erect barriers between themselves and their bio-relatives." This is an attack for which there can be no defense, since it is made against a set of people to which it might not always and constantly apply (straw adoptee argument.) I see a lot of these here but I hold my tongue when i see mothers here making these arguments based on their direct experiences, even though I have seen them bend the characterizations to include many if not most adoptees, because i understand that this website is for Mothers and for sharing their pains. But I don't see how making this general attack which serve to stereotype adoptees in negative lights serve any purpose other than to cause pain, to adoptees, and by manner of furthering the divide and mistrust between adoptees and mothers, furthering the very pain of mothers you purport to assuage.

      Also for the record I agree with the gist of what maryanne is saying here about context - it is not an excuse, but don't throw out the baby with the bathwater.

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    3. Kaisa, let me ask you. Does your natural mother have children she raised? How do you refer to them?

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    4. Perhaps "distance themselves" would have been better than "erect barriers."

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    5. perhaps, distance themselves would have been better language, but that misses the point i'm making. often? how often? how many adoptees do you know who use this language to either distance themselves or erect barriers? if you'd relayed a story about how a certain adoptee used the language to do so, particularly if it were your own child, i would have at least understood the origin for that stereotype. but to profess that you know what many adoptees think - and by interpreting their reasons for doing something that is precisely what you are doing - is wholly unfair, particularly since you are not naming anyone in specific, but instead classifying us as a group.

      these types of assumptions amount to slights in my view, especially if they are routinely made. when i see such a routine coming from any one person - a natural parent or otherwise - i don't trust that i can be honest or genuine and say what i think or feel about adoption, since it has already been decided for me.

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    6. my natural mother does have a daughter, 7 years my junior. i have very few contexts in which to refer to her, because i have very few friends who know anything about my families, adopted or natural. to those very few who are close to me and know something of my families i refer to her as my sister. in first explaining who she is to anyone especially to anyone online (i have many more confidences online than in person) i say she is my half-sister, we share a mother but she has a different father. i use those words.

      In referring to either of my mothers, to one of my few close friends, i say either my mother_____ or my mom ______ (inserting the first name of the mother). On occasion when speaking to my husband i mention my natural mother by her first name only, since i do so often and he is already aware that she is my mother. When I speak to him about my adoptive mother I usually say my mother's first and last name, to differentiate her from the other women in that family who use the same name as that name is common throughout (Jane, as a matter of fact.) I do the exact same with both of my fathers, incidentally, by coincidence my adoptive father has a name that is common throughout the family so i use his full name too. and i refer to my sister's father by his first name. i'm sure that neither my mothers nor my fathers realize that this is how i refer to them nor have they ever asked.

      Both of my natural parents introduced themselves to me via correspondence and eventually on the phone using their names, and have never referred to themselves as being my mother, or my father, and i call them by name when i greet them directly. when i speak to my adoptive parents i call them Mom and Dad. my natural parents rarely to never inquire about my Mom and Dad and the opposite is true as well, since the initial contact many years ago.

      I have a brother through adoption too with whom i was raised. we have no relationship and i rarely refer to him, he has a son now that i had some relationship with at my adoptive parents' home, and on a rare occasion i mention him, usually in the company of the in-laws as one of my nephews thru my husband's sister shares the same birthday as my brother's son. on those occasions i can see that my in-laws are surprised to remember that i had/have a brother. if i have to explain who his son is, i usually say, he is the son of my brother, the brother i grew up with, or online i say, the brother i was raised with or the brother with whom i was raised.

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    7. I too object to calling a pregnant or expectant mom anything but that. She is not a birth/natural/bio/first mother until she surrenders. If she keeps her child those modifiers never apply to her. It is indeed coercion to call an expectant mom anything but an expectant mom. I think the "birth" modifier for relatives other than mothers sounds silly. I prefer to refer to my son's father as the bio father, as he was not there for the birth.

      In normal speech, most reunited people I know, adoptees or mothers, refer to their relatives without modifiers, mother, son, sister, etc. Modifiers sound artificial and stilted, except when they are needed to differentiate which person you are talking about. I do not use them except to clarify, my son is my son, but if I need to say which son, he is my surrendered son as opposed to the sons I raised. All equally loved but sometimes you have to specify.

      There is an added complication for adoptees though, that they do have two whole separate families,often with pressure from both sides to be " the real family", so it is no wonder that the adoptee in the middle is more prone to using modifiers for a situation that can be both confusing and emotionally fraught. I think it is less distancing and more self-preservation on the part of adopted persons. They are often stuck in the middle and pulled from both sides.

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    8. Steve said: 'It seems clear to me that the reason for calling pregnant women "birth mothers" is to cultivate a narrative that the adoption is already a done deal. The goal is to make it feel as if the baby is already the child of the PAPs'.

      As a pregnant 16 year old, I was told by my social worker to write a letter to the PAPs to reassure them that I was just a vessel and that they were the real parents. My social worker suggested that the PAPs might be tense and anxious otherwise - the last thing I wanted for my son.

      So I wrote that letter - I still have a copy of it.
      When I read my diary of that time, I realised that the PAPs hadn't yet been selected. The point of getting me to write that letter was for me to tell myself that I wasn't my son's mother. As you say - psychologically, the adoption was a done deal even before my son's birth and even despite my strong bonding with him while I carried him.

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  24. Jane: you say adoptees "erect barriers" and "distance themselves." We have to.... there is no other way for us to remain sane. I could not and would not refer to my first mother as "mom" if we ever met face to face. She relinquished, she left me in a facility, she disappeared. I was then brainwashed for decades as to who my "mom" was, and, unless you are an adoptee, you have NO IDEA how this message is drummed into our heads. So this person who gave me up can not come back years later and think I'm going to call her "mom." And my a-mother is never going to change her thinking. You may think you know what adoptees are thinking and feeling, but you have no idea. Sorry.

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    1. I never expected my son to call me Mum as that's a term that reflects great familiarity - something that our separation for 30 years prevented us from having. It also has echoes of childhood about it - again, something my son and I did not share together.

      I also don't see myself as a parent, since I didn't parent him.

      But both my son and I acknowledge me as his mother. It is the only thing that makes sense of the unique, immense and profound feelings that accompany our relationship to each other, whether those feelings are joy, grief, anger or love.

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  25. We are not perfect.

    We are going to attempt to not publish comments that MENTION that we are not publishing comments--no matter if the rest of the comment is acceptable.Sometimes they get through. We will take them down.

    Read the comment instructions below.

    We are not publishing comments from people who only come here antagonize others and ourselves. Those who are troubled by this are free not to read the blog.

    Thank you.

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  26. When I came to FMF I was extremely interested in unbrainwashing myself about my own first mother, and in presenting the adoptee's side of things. But it's not working.

    What I see is, save for a few, first mothers who still think of themselves as the adoptee's mother. After having given us up. I see that, as usual, no matter who we talk to, no one wants to hear the adoptee's story/feelings/dilemma.

    Living as an adopted person is a lie, and a miserable experience. We adoptees did not decide any of this for ourselves. Yet, AP's, first mothers, non-adopted public and lawmakers all tell us how we should feel, and we are exhausted from it. It appears that no one understands what adoption does to the adoptee, the person with NO rights at all, and to try to discuss it gets us nowhere.

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    1. Julia, I beg to disagree--we bend over backwards here to trumpet the injustices of adoption that is foisted upon the adoptee. Jane and I, who write the blog, and the many mothers who post comments here, understand that the adoption of our children caused so much grief, all the while we were told that it was in the best interests of the child, an argument that sadly has not changed one iota. I am sure that this is what happened to your natural mother too.

      We of all people are not telling adoptees how to feel. We are writing about our own pain and grief. And we surely listen to the adopted such as you who comment, here and elsewhere. But sometimes it feels as if adoptees mostly want to beat us up.

      The problem with the laws not changing more quickly is, as I said at a previous post, compounded by the problem of adoptees not being able to stand up and demand their rights for themselves.

      We are all damaged, and it bothers me when you say here that we do not understand. We are doing our best to understand. You forget that we did not feel that we had a real choice when we relinquished our children.

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    2. Hi Julia Emily,

      I am one of those first mothers who thinks of myself as my child's mother even though I gave her up. That's because I am her mother. Signing a piece of paper did not change that.

      I don't see how that means that I don't want to see the adoptee's side of things. It is just what I believe. I try very hard to understand what my daughter might be going through and have spent a lot of time reading adoptee memoirs, blogs, comments like yours, etc to try to be able to empathize with her.

      I am very sorry that you have been so hurt because of adoption. I have too and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. I just don't see how thinking of myself as my own child's mother in any way means that I am telling her or any adoptee how to feel. Whether she thinks of me as her mother or not is up to her. And how you feel is up to you.

      I would agree that many people do not understand what adoption does to an adoptee, but I don't think that includes most first mothers. I have spent countless hours trying to understand what my child is going through and do my best to be there for her if I can.

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    3. Julia Emily, I have avoided saying anything to this point because I know that I offend you. This time, however, I must speak.

      First, you came here to educate yourself about your first mother - but we are not her and therefore, anything we say may be diametrically opposed to her thinking.

      Second, if you are looking to educate us, please note that we do listen but we don't have to agree. If you are looking for agreement, I would politely suggest you find a page by an adoptee. While I feel your pain, truly, I can see that you are not really hear to that we get it, but we can only help so much. Maybe more adoptees would be better for you.

      Namaste!

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    4. First off, my first mother is dead. She is no longer thinking anything.

      I am not looking for anyone to agree, I am looking for ANYONE, anyone on this damn planet, to understand. That's all I've ever been looking for. And I have yet to find it.

      Yes, you offend me. No wonder your adopted-out child wants nothing to do with you. If my first mother approached this subject the way you do, I would head for the hills, and fast.

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    5. JE, I understand that you did not choose your situation. I see that you want access to your OBC. I understand that too.

      I see many of your comments in which you state you want someone to understand, and to listen to your point of view, that adoption has ruined your life. I have been reading here for the past 3 or 4 months and have seen you detail some of the facts of your case. What is it that you so desperately want others to understand?

      Although I'm an adoptee I'm guessing there are many things you think and feel that I don't or even can't understand... and i would imagine the same could be said about you regarding me. Understanding is tough ! I can try... and I can empathize, share sympathy and compassion for your situation beyond what is mirrored in my experience (as do others here.) I think that counts for a lot.

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    6. JE, I don't get it. What makes you think I don't understand you? That I don't even sympathize and/or care? You are making a ton of assumptions there and I feel bad for you. I did not, in fact, put you down or attack you. Thank you so much for attacking me.

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    7. "Yes, you offend me. No wonder your adopted-out child wants nothing to do with you."

      JE you are rude. That is a downright hateful thing to say. I think YOU don't want to bother to understand how natural mothers feel. No, is not all about adoptees. Sorry to burst your bubble. Comments like that make natural families run for the hills, too.

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    8. '...What I see is, save for a few, first mothers who still think of themselves as the adoptee's mother...'

      My son does too.

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  27. Jane--

    Above you refer to OR using a "birth father" designation and how that is absurd. He no way gave birth, and I think that sums up the problem with the moniker--for mothers also. In an attempt to sound more cozy than "biological" parent, it obfuscates the reality. I do not get terribly upset about the term birth mother, if some want to use it for themselves. But I do remember how terribly uncomfortable I felt when I was once introduced as my daughter's "birth mother." This was done by a adoptive mother to her mother. The grandmother looked as if she would like to obliterate me. Thinking back, I shouldn't have put myself in that situation but I supposedly was a friend of the adoptive mother and my daughter was with me that day. Just as we think of ourselves as our children's parents, adoptive parents naturally have a frame of reference they do not automatically shed.

    I think that the using "birthparent" as one word is extremely derogatory, always have, always will. There are no adoptiveparents...though let us not forget that Lee Campbell and the others involved did a great deal of good work for natural mothers. But if others are okay with the word as it stands, let them be. We are all in this together, just as the NAACP has a full name today that it never would have come up with if it were not started a long time ago.

    We will continue to use birth mother here but I admit reluctantly, and I'm using natural mother as much as possible. The more of us who do, the more the world will get used to the language. Some of us remember when talking about "colored people" and "Negroes" was the polite way to talk about black African-Americans.

    Language evolves, let natural mothers reclaim the name that is theirs--by nature.

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  28. And how am I, along with others in my situation, supposed to go stand up for my rights? Do I put my old, sickly AP's in storage? Do I divorce my husband and leave my family, so I am free to fight? I write letters, emails and make phone calls. That's all I can do because I am STUCK. Stuck in a lie that is supposed to be my life. No wonder so many adoptees take their own lives. The lack of support and understanding is unbearable.

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  29. JE: Please understand, we are all doing the best we can. Your personal situation is terrible, and I don't know what you can do about it. You are doing way more than a lot of adoptees who want their records, and you are to be commended for having the strength to do that. Most do way less than you have, and you are doing it against terrible odds--clueless adoptive parents who need your help, daily; a husband who doesn't understand, children who aren't interested. Very few people I think have so much going against them--and still take the time to write a letter. If more people had the strength that you show, the records would be open by now.

    Many mental hugs.

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  30. Maybe one should not be afraid to use slightly more complex language and just use "Real mothers of adopted persons, excluding those cases of step-parent adoption in which the adopting parent is the spouse of the adoptee's real mother", To me that seems about the shortest description of just the intended group.
    Natural mother has strong connotations of illegitimacy (as well as a lack of ART assistance), though it would cover, for instance, Lorraine and Jane perfectly, a mother who was not only married, but also use some form of ART to get the baby which was kidnapped, would not be covered by it as well. Furthermore associating adoption loss with Natural Motherhood,would be huge insult to those natural mothers, who because they had greater or better strength, willpower, speed, intelligence, wisdom, family, courage,experience, loyalty, friends, je ne sais pas quoi or luck, managed to keep (or kidnap back in time) and raise their own children.

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  31. While we have several names for mothers who lost a child to adoption--natural, first, birth, bio-- we don't have a short-hand way of referring to the child. We call them son or daughter but in some situations, we need a little more. I'm thinking we could bring back the term "love child," What do readers think?

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    1. hahahaha i'd not be in favor of love child. how about sea turtle?

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    2. I think this would work only in those situations where the adoptee really was conceived in love, which is not always the case. Yes, it would work for me...even my son's bio father said in a letter when I first looked him up, "...conceived in the fire of our love, Michael was born into its ashes...."( he could be a poetic dude, although a scientist). I know too many mothers where love had nothing to do with it, from one-night stands, rebound relationships, abusive relationships, to the ultimate horror of date rape or stranger rape. Love child hardly fits those situations, even when the child himself is loved by the mother.

      I love sea turtles,; hey,Kaisa, maybe that would work! My son loves the sea too, so I do not think he would mind being a sea turtle! Or how about a Selkie, the seal people of Celtic legend?

      Seriously, I use "surrendered child" to refer to the son I gave up when there is a need to differentiate from the 3 sons I raised. That works for me. "Love Child" is a song by the Supremes, not real life, and the child in the song is raised by the natural mother and has a miserable life.

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    3. I would not be in favor of "love child" either. It always struck me as a derogatory term.

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    4. Selkie? never heard that before... i'm intrigued. *googling*

      I remember reading about an island culture that dealt with the problems of young unwed mothers-to-be through a belief system that claimed that dolphins were the fathers of the expected children. These children were seen as blessings from the sea and were to be raised by the entire town, their births celebrated and their mothers given special recognition for having been chosen (an honor similar to that given to Mary mother of Jesus in much of Christianity) This is a modern-day culture but i could not find a reference for it.

      In my googling i did find a similar belief system in Brazil, from Wiki: "In traditional Amazon River folklore, at night, an Amazon river dolphin becomes a handsome young man who seduces girls, impregnates them, and then returns to the river in the morning to become a dolphin again. This dolphin shapeshifter is called an encantado."

      Encantado is an interesting page in Wiki, as is the Selkie page ! Thanks for the tidbit :)

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    5. For first mothers of the BSE, how about first child?

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    6. Sea turtle. Perfect! Has anyone seen "Loggerheads"? A great movie about adoption, Loggerheads are sea turtles who live in the Carolina coast.

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    7. What's wrong with "The Adopted"? Love child mostly suggests "illegitimate", or "unplanned" (or "I really wanted to say "Bastard!""), if that's the case, fine use it, but using that as indication for adopted children suggests that such children SHOULD be surrendered for adoption and that cannot be the intention.

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    8. Love child has always struck me better than...some of the other terms. It implies...love. Not a quick jump in the sheets, a rape or anything like that. But no one uses the term anymore so it's not going to go anywhere.

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    9. Theodore, "the adopted" child is the term adoptive parents use for the child they adopted. Some might use "adopted out" child to refer to the one given up.

      In talking with other natural mothers, I use surrendered daughter or raised daughter to distinguish therm. I think that people not immersed in adoption wouldn't understand "surrendered" child. Surrender is what's done on the battle field.

      When I mention my daughter and someone says who's that, I usually say "she's the daughter I gave up for adoption." That usually results in a pause. It's the last thing they expect. People don't know how to respond. I think some are confused. "If she's the daughter you gave up, then why would you know her?"

      As Lorraine says, you rarely hear love child anymore although John Edwards' daughter born to his mistress was referred to as his love child. Love child, though, means a child born out of wedlock, not given up for adoption.

      Perhaps as open adoptions become more common, people will understand "surrendered" child. I suppose the industry would prefer "placed" child.

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    10. Lorraine wrote: " But no one uses the term anymore so it's not going to go anywhere."

      Not necessarily true. I remember the son Arnold Schwarzenegger fathered with the housekeeper being referred to as a 'love child'. And that was not very long ago.

      As I wrote before, I don't like the term though.

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    11. Jane, I tried to indicate the use of "adopted" as a noun.
      "Should the revocation of an adoption cause loss of nationality if the adoption was the only ground the adopted had to acquire the nationality?"

      It is quite neutral and fit to talk about rights, laws, risks, issues, discrimination, suffering and humiliation, but not so much for talking about family relations, granted, that is a problem.

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  32. Jane, I have always been her mother - mom, mommy, etc. But I think that my daughter will always be my daughter... love child - whatever - she is my child.

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  33. Cherry and Cindy, how I would love to sit in actual real life and chat with you someday! I feel like we would get along smashingly.

    Cindy, all too true! She was trying very hard to offend me, but it was really just obvious she had an insecurity with the thought of someone else being able to claim any tiny snippet of motherhood to "her child."

    I am reconsidering my occasional use of "biological mom" thanks to the comments here. I truly did not consider it in an offensive way, like one commenter (sorry for not going back to see who) who said that it reduces her simply to DNA. I was a bio/chem major and work in a scientific field, so it just felt like a comfortable word to me to describe the actual genetic, real, truly familial connection between my daughter and her natural mom. Since it can be viewed as otherwise, I will use natural mom when the need arises, but I still prefer just mom.

    JE, I absolutely as an adoptive parent respect my daughter's right to choose her own terms to describe her personal connection to her first parents. I'm sorry your parents do not do the same. I will not ever tell my daughter what to call her parents. But I also cannot possibly help but view them as I do: her mom, who gave birth to her, and her dad, with whom she shares so many traits. They are what they are to me. They deserve and are owed my respect and acknowledgement of their role in my daughter's very existence. She may choose her own words. For what it's worth, I know adoptees in real life who run the gamut in terms of what they prefer to call their first moms/dads. Not everyone feels the same. I think each person's personal situation and view is worth respecting, but we have to be careful that in trying to be true to our feelings (adoptee, first mom, adoptive mom), we do not callously hurt others just to prove we can use whatever words we want.

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    1. 'Cherry and Cindy, how I would love to sit in actual real life and chat with you someday! I feel like we would get along smashingly. '

      Me too!

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  34. If I may be so bold, Julia Emily, what I see is you grappling with the fact that your entire life has been part of a social experiment. You and I are both victims of a social experiment. And all of the premises behind it, and all of the choices that were made on our behalf (without our knowledge or consent), were based on nothing but social prejudice. There was never any real proof or scientific evidence that children would be just fine living in a non-blood related family and having no knowledge of their true origins. Yet, all of this, along with the blank slate theory, was accepted as gospel and resulted in the outrageous and insulting reality for so many of us adoptees that we can't access our own birth certificates and in a sickeningly high number of adoptees who will never be able to find out where the heck they came from.

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  35. For the past few decades, the only women deemed (by society) worthy enough to mother a child were "respectable" married women. Motherhood wasn't determined by giving birth--it was determined by marital status, and unwed mothers weren't deserving or worthy enough to keep and raise their children.

    IMHO, the qualifier, "birth" before mother was and is used to denote the worthlessness of the vulnerable woman who was used as a birth vessel. The "birth" designation is a scarlet letter to many natural mothers, forever labeling and reminding them of their subordinate status in society. Its use is to keep natural mothers "in their place".

    Adoption has caused so much pain, grief, and trauma for both mothers AND our lost children. The deep psychological trauma adoptees have to sort through at feeling "abandoned" as a helpless baby has to be emotional crazy-making stuff. It's one of the things that I grieve over, knowing that my son has had to navigate through life with the psychological and emotional issues of feeling rejected by his mother.

    Julia Emily: You add so much to these discussions, and it is good to read your perspective. We are all hurt, damaged, and traumatized in the destructive path of adoption. The only ones who seem to be unscathed and smelling like roses are the strangers who took our babies. I sense your anger and frustration. I want to say I understand your anger and frustration, but I don't fully understand anymore than you fully understand the natural mother's anger and frustration. I am angry that I was duped by my own parents who made decisions for me, by the adoption peddlers, the doctors, the lawyers, and society, who all gave their blessings to the system that allowed complete strangers to take my baby. Some of us are also angry as h*ll for not fighting harder, for not standing up for ourselves, and for not figuring out some way to keep our babies.

    We must try to understand each other and channel our collective anger and frustration toward change and legislation which can right some wrongs and, hopefully, make it harder if not impossible for infant adoptions to occur if at all (and then only as an instrument of child protection).


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  36. First child doesn't work. A great many (like me) never had a "second." And not every child given up is "first."

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    1. Lorraine, exactly. it would not apply to you or any mother who has only had one child. Jane was asking for a term that would apply to differentiate one's kept children from the one adopted. You have no such need.

      And not every child 'given up' is a first, that is true, but I was strictly talking BSE, if you see my original suggestion.

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  37. The only terms I personally use for my firstborn (which for some mothers is not their surrendered child), is "taken baby" or "stolen baby" because that is the truth of what occurred.

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  38. " Loggerheads" was shown at AAC this year, a poignant and beautiful movie based on a true adoption story and the director and birth mother the story was based on were skyped in for questions. Sea turtles who always return to the place they were born to lay their eggs are part of the story. Kaisa, and anyone else interested in the Selkie legend, there is a charming movie called "The Secret of Roan Inis" about Selkies, also a sad and lovely Scottish song, "The Great Selkie of Sule Skerrie" Both involve a stolen child. The movie ends happily for mother and child, the song does not.

    Jane, I use the same words you do to describe my son, "surrendered son" or further explanation, the son I gave up for adoption and am now reunited with. People I have told in recent years have been nothing but kind and supportive.

    Did you ever hear the term "natural child"? I was told it was used in law in some places to describe an illegitimate child as opposed to the child of a legal marriage.

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    1. my parents use the words natural child, as in, they were unable to have a natural child of their own.

      thanks for the info on the movies, because of Jane's comment my interest was piqued about Loggerheads. I love seeing good movies i never heard about especially when they come with good recommendations so i will check out both of these :)

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    2. Yes, I've heard the term "natural child." Used in the law but was common at one time for a child born outside of wedlock. Edmond, the illegitimate son, in "King Lear" is referred to as a "natural child." I wrote a term paper for my college Shakespeare class on the use of the term "nature" and natural relationships. Edmund begins his soliloquy with "Thou, nature, art my goddess. To thy law my services are bound" meaning he did not have to follow the laws of man because those laws did not recognize him as the son of his father.

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  39. Coming late to this discussion. The language we use can be so loaded and at the same time, we all are comfortable with different words and phrases. To some, the intent behind the words is what's important; for others, intent doesn't matter. Our group, Ohio Birthparent Group, certainly struggled with this issue in picking a name. One of our group rules/standards we discuss at the beginning of each meeting is allowing people to use the term they are comfortable with. A blog post from last year about one member's view is here: http://ohiobirthparents.org/2014/03/30/member-mondays-terms-language-meanings/.

    On our About Us section, we at Ohio Birthparent Group state this: "Throughout this site, we use the terms ‘birthparent’ and ‘birth parent’ to describe women and men who have elected, been coerced or forced to terminate their parental rights through adoption.
    There is little consensus in the adoption community regarding the appropriate language to describe this experience. One objection to the use of a term like ‘birthmother’ is that such a word may imply that these women are somehow not mothers worthy of social recognition. Many women believe that ‘birthmother’ unjustly reduces their experience to the act of gestation. As such, some women prefer terms like ‘first mother’ or ‘original mother’ when describing their own experiences. Like all words, the terms ‘birthmother’, ‘birthfather’ and ‘birthparent’ are embedded with histories, politics and meanings. We do not uncritically deploy this term. We have chosen to use these words in order to maximize our visibility as a post-adoption resource. Arguably, ‘birthparent’ is the most culturally recognizable term for this experience; it has widespread use in the media, law and social services."

    Like at this website, we used the word that would hopefully allow more women and men who have surrendered children find us as a post-adoption resource.

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    1. Unfortunately it isn't just about what some want to be called because anything other than mother or natural mother hurts other mothers when it is used, especially in public and in the media. It is the affect it has on mothers who did NOT "place" or "give up" their babies. It is the effect it has on pregnant, vulnerable, at risk, mostly single mothers to be called that and referred to that even before they give birth. It causes them to feel as if they aren't a real mother. That they aren't worthy of keeping and raising their own baby. It causes them to emotionally distance themselves from the FACT that this will be their own daughter or son. It is the emotional effect it has on all mothers who do not get to raise their babies. And especially for the Baby Scoop Era mothers, it is very, very hurtful and triggering to be referred to anything other than the REAL, natural mother of their child whom they were denied the civil, legal and human RIGHT to raise and nurture. So using the "birth" or "bio[logical]" terms are WRONG. They injure, oppress and marginalize. Even if used by those who "don't mind them" they hurt OTHERS and that is what is wrong when it comes to others who DO mind.

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  40. There are three things that make you a mother: contributing your DNA, carrying the baby inside you until he/she is born, and doing the heavy lifting of actually raising the child.

    As such, an egg donor is a biological mother. She is the source of half the child's DNA. She is responsible for at least part of the child's personality, temperament, talents, and appearance (the other sources being the biological father and whoever raised the child).

    A surrogate is the birth mother or gestational mother. She is the one who carried the baby in her womb, gave birth, and spend 9 months bonding with the baby while the two were as one. She is the first person the baby knows, the first person the baby trusts and comes to love.

    The social mother is the one who does the day-in, day-out heavy lifting of raising a child to adulthood.

    When viewed through this lens, "natural mother" makes the most sense because it encompasses both biological mother (source of DNA) and birth/gestational mother (who carried the baby to term).

    In an idea world, biological, birth, and social mother would be the same person.

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    1. To Almost:Since we do not and never will have an ideal world, we are stuck with differentiating the different kinds of motherhood, hopefully with the intent of respect for all, even if we cannot agree on one proper term.

      Ohio Birthparents, your nuanced view of words and the practicality of using the best known term show wisdom and maturity, much like the choice reached by this blog to leave Birth Mother in its title even when they would prefer other terms. No matter how we feel or who first coined the term birthmother, the word has gone beyond whatever evil social worker intent in the 50s may have spawned it, to being an accepted neutral term now in general usage. What is may have meant more than 60 years ago to a few people is not what it means today. As has been often noted, language evolves and changes.

      Kaisa noted at one point that the name "Concerned United Birthparents" was a weak name. I was there when the group was started and the name was picked, and I agree. I was not a big fan of the bear logo either, thought it corny and off-topic.The name itself was an offshoot of trying to come up with a name that went with the letters CUB, to go with the bears. This was all Lee Campbell's idea. But the group and the name has had longevity, and like the Ohio group, after some discussion it was decided to keep it because of its history, because people already know and recognize it, and in the age of the internet, because "birthmother" is the term that comes up first on google. Sometimes practicality makes more sense than ideology if your first goal is to reach the public who need to hear your message.

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    2. The Germanic word we know in modern English "mother" means "uterus" or "the uterus containing person", the selection of this word means that only the gestational mother is really the real mother, motherhood by adoption is merely a legal fiction, it is legally valid, but not real. Mind you, this argument is specific for "mother", it does not mean at all that an adoptress cannot claim real mumhood, momhood, mahood and so on. Both the egg parent and the gestational parent should claim biological parenthood, but only pregnancy can really make a real mother in the true sense of the word. (Yes it is also used for females of species who reproduce without wombs, but that is just an extension of the true meaning).

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    3. Maryann thank you for informing us about the origins of CUB I was not involved in CUB when it was formed, but I must admit I didn't like the name myself, and I'm interested in hearing that some others weren't in favor of it either. The internet may make it harder to change language, but it does evolve. Consider...WTF? LOL, IMO and other web chat acronyms are practically part of spoken language today.

      Natural mother will make a comeback, but it will take some doing. Powerful people oppose us, see comment below...

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    4. Sometime ago when I was at a CUB retreat, there was a discussion of changing the name. One idea was to just use CUB rather than Concerned United Birthparents. An example of this is NARAL which originally stood for National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws but now just uses NARAL.

      Another thought was to come up with a name which had the letters CUB but no one came up with anything. As maryanne notes, CUB did not change its name.

      The word "Concerned" is also of concern. While it may have been daring in the 1970's, it is weak today. Concerned does not connote action. CUB though is not an activist organization and so the name remains.

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    5. CUB actually appeals to me more than..Concerned United Birthparents.

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  41. one may have a mother, adoptive mother, step mother and/or foster mother (or father) - all in the one lifetime. And love them all.

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  42. Have you considered other viewpoints?

    Many adoptive parents find it offensive when a birth mother calls herself the natural mother. Calling a birth mother "natural" implies that adoptive parents are unnatural or implies something about their possible infertility. But not all adoptive parents are infertile - not that their fertility anyone else' business if they are or arent. Fertility is and should be a private matter.
    Another example, I adopted my daughter and I assure you we both consider ourselves to be "real" yet people ask her all the time "who is your real mother?" Implying we are not a real family. This hurts her and implies she is less than because it is not only biology that makes a family real. Words and labels can be very hurtful.
    Since we know very little about the circumstances with which my daughter came to be available for adoption, we use the term birth mother. Its unknown if she was wanted, confiscated, loved or abandoned.
    What i see on this forum is that everyone views these things through their own lens without giving regard to how it might effect other members of the adoption triad. Let's try to be compassionate that others might not feel the way some assume.

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    1. Using terms like birth mother which obscure the actual relationship doesn't benefit anybody in the long run. The women who give birth are natural mothers. Women who acquire children through legal mechanisms ARE unnnatural mothers. They may be, and often are, loving, kind, and great mother figures but the children did not join the family naturally.

      It's important that adoptive mothers recognize this and not pretend, as many have, that the child was as if born to them and there is no difference between adoptive families and natural ones. The children know the truth and trying to deny the existence or the importance of the natural mother is unfair to them.

      Adoption was created to benefit children, not those seeking to acquire children. While you and other adoptive mothers may feel offended by the use of the term "natural" mother, adoption should not be designed to protect your feelings.

      Let me suggest that the answer your daughter might give when someone asks her about her real mother is not to deny the natural mother and protest that the constructed family is somehow more real than the biological one, but to explain that she has two families and and both are real.

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    2. Would you be so good to consider that some people here see encouraging the use of negative adoption language as the only compassionate way to go? Relinquishment, rejection of children should be discouraged, adoption agencies should, if not declared illegal at least be driven in bankruptcy, and family formation byadoption should be stopped. Some people here might HATE adoption with a passion
      You are a real person, so am I, but that does not mean that I am the person in whose womb your girl resided, but only that person is really her real MOTHER, adoption means that there is a real family tie, just like marriage, but it is only a legal fiction, a "let's pretend" game for adults that it does create any bloodkinship, let alone real motherhood. You are her fake mother, replacement mother, "mother, but only in the legal sense", forgetting that. And that advice of Jane, I would replace in your case, with telling the non-informative truth about her real mother "Too much of a long and painful story"

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    3. '...Many adoptive parents find it offensive when a birth mother calls herself the natural mother. '

      Instead of trying to rearrange the world to suit you, why don't you look at why you find those words offensive.

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  43. Of course, I've considered that adoptive parents don't like the natural mother term. However, that's just too bad. Honestly, I'm sick of everyone always thinking of THEIR feelings. What about ours?? Have you REALLY thought this out? How would YOU feel if someone took one of your babies/children simply because you weren't married? How angry would YOU feel? Would you feel that those who were wealthier than you had the right to steal your MOTHERhood? We loved our babies. We grew them in our bodies. We created them. We LOVED them and still love them. No, I don't care how they feel. I don't feel that they have given consideration to how I/we feel. If they did, they would not be so defensive. They would not feel so threatened. We are the natural mother whether they like it or not. This isn't about whether they like the truth. This is about people trying to manipulate and twist reality. We are the natural mother. We are the MOTHER. They should be grateful that they were allowed by the indu$try to raise our babies because if we'd had our civil, legal and human rights protected, as they should have been, they NEVER would have gotten our babies. They were ours. Just think on that for awhile. It isn't about them. It is about US and OUR babies, our children, and now our adult sons and daughters... TAKEN from us because we weren't married. Fact.

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    1. Cindy AulabaughMay 7, 2015 at 9:44 PM

      Karen, you took the words right out of my mouth.

      Kmom, ''Have you considered other viewpoints?" Scuse me? No other ''viewpoint'' but the adoptive parent/s is ever ''considered" by many. The agencies are ''yours'', the ''rights and privledges are ''yours'', the laws are ''yours'', the celebrations are ''yours'', the entirety of raising the child is ''yours'', reading stories to the child is ''yours'', hugging, holding, nurturing the child ....is ''YOURS'', all the trials, tribulations, joys and all the wonder your heart can hold are ..........'yours'..... what do you want from us? "You've'' taken it ALL. ..and the only thing that we can hold in our hearts for some small comfort, some small joy, 'you' want to take that too.

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    2. I am so sorry for your pain. I can't imagine truly how awful it must be. Your note is sad because it is so true of the hugging/holding/nurtuing, the joybs. But adoptive parents did not take your children. Your children were not kidnapped. They were given up for adoption only because someone in the "natural" family set the adoption in motion. Not the AP. The birth family. Only the birth family. Maye be in some cases, not the mom but her parents. But not the APs. Sorry but it is just the truth. And I am sorry. Children should ideally be with the families they were born into but life is not ideal. I don't understand why there is so much animosity between the parties involved, well I do understand, but instead of spending all this time sparring over terms and name calling why not focus on peaceful relations with all members of the adoption circle. Surely that would be for the best for the adopted child, the person who to me matters most of all, more than the natural/first/bio/birth mom and more than the A mom. I am sorry for all the pain. I hope this weekend is a good as it can be for the moms who gave up children. I know this must be a hard weekend. GM

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    3. I tend to liken adoptive parents' denial of responsibility for the availability of children for adoption to purchasers of ivory who deny responsibility for the slaughter of elephants. What puts the whole thing in motion is the adoptive parents' money. In countries where adoption is not a profitable business, the adoption rate is a fraction of what it is in the US.

      Mothers are coerced and tricked out of their children. The laws of most states do not require that mothers have the time or information to decide upon adoption.

      Once a child is given up, yes, I agree, the parties need to have a peaceful relationship. However, we natural mothers need to speak up even if it offends some adoptive parents in order to bring about needed reforms.

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    4. Anonymous please do not speak for me. Please do not write my life to your convenience of your conscience. Yes I was abandoned by family. Yes family wanted the child to disappear. ***but**** and here's a part of why I feel about adoptive parents the way I do. I went into hard labor about 5 to 6 in the evening, I was hooked up to a monitor, given I don't know how many shots, drugs I never asked for, drugged UNCONSCIOUS till right before my son was born.... he was delivered, the male nurse who he was handed to I guess cleaned him and weighed him. He turned with my son in his arms and asked if I would like to see or hold (too grogged to remember) my son. I nodded yes and tried to say yes and felt a hard stab in my left thigh..... the ONLY pain I had felt since the night before.. I turned back to MR. doctor and asked, ''are you about through?" and I was UNCONSCIOUS again. and my son whisked away from my arms, kept from me... I was grogged the whole 5 days I was in the hospital... I never saw ANY OTHER human being except a nurse and the 'social' worker, plus the doctor who had delivered ME. The doctor who had delivered my son I do not remember seeing -at all. 5 days. No other human beings... I could not have fed my son if I had been allowed to.. WHY? They gave me drugs that dried up MY MILK, MY SONS FOOD... WITHOUT my knowledge or consent! The 'social' worker brought my son in later? I don't know I was so stinking drugged.. WOULDN'T, DIDN'T PLACE HIM IN MY ARMS... I was up and on the other side of the room and she laid him on my bed and he was screaming... she looked at me and walked away to the other side of the room.. my memory says there was another woman in there with her in the corner of the room but.. I can't remember. I was absolutely frozen! Like there was a wall of thick glass between me and my son. I wanted my son, he needed ME and those horrible people who had stabbed me and taken my son away from me were there in the room. ..and my God what would they do this time if I went to him. Kill me? I had to live and get my head cleared.. They literally TERRIFIED ME. They brought the papers in, already filled in and notarized.. saying the notary had ''witnessed'' NO. They had EVERYTHING filled in...the date on them said it was the next day after my son was born.. maybe it was and maybe it wasn't.. I don't know. I couldn't tell which end was up or whether it was day or night... I had NO ONE there with me. NO ONE. No, they had no gun...they didn't NEED a gun, they had the entire arsenal of drugs in that hospital to use on me... don't -you all- (aps) understand? The doctor, just for you aps that say it is NOT the aps that do this... he and his wife had adopted a newborn boy.. I found out when, I had the misfortune to be staying next door to some friends of theirs (aps also) they walked over to visit. Tell me dear anonymous what would -you- feel? What would you think? What would you believe? What would be so deeply seared in your soul? I lost two more babies before birth and never had another child. I was 18 years old.. the papers called me a minor child... oh yeah.. lots more mind messin stuff but.. this is long enough, sorry.

      a note, the family I was staying with were ''not a misfortune'', ....I was a stranger and they took me in. ..I thank them forever for their loving kindness.

      Thank you Jane.

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    5. I don't think it is quite fair to blame the money of the adoptive parents because it suggests an awareness that was not there at the time of the adoption, (i'm working from the framework of the BSE.) My parents did not have any awareness of the adoption industry anymore than the natural mothers did !! And I imagine that is the same for many of that era.

      And my parents certainly did not have any money. As a matter of fact, both of my natural parents were in families doing quite a bit better than anyone in my adoptive family ever did. I think it is less similar to ivory poachers, the rarity of ivory and elephants than it is similar to the Walmart system - flood the market with an affordable product and treat those who deliver that product like crap.

      I sure do like many people here but I shudder when i see anyone saying they could care less what the other side thinks or feels. It's like a really bad divorce but there never was a marriage. To the natural parents, not caring about the adoptive parents - these are the parents of your children ! And to the adoptive parents - these are the mothers and fathers of your children ! Can't we all try to get along? What is so wrong about being civil? omg when i read some of the unchecked vitriol it is such a turn-off I cannot focus on what the message or the point is, seriously. To the authors of said vitriol, if you wanna just vent, well, you've succeeded ! Hip hip hooray ! :P

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    6. Yes, during the BSE there was a surplus of babies. Public agencies provided infant adoption services as well as private agencies and attorneys. Public agency fees, were low. Roe v. Wade and cultural shifts caused reduced the availability of babies dramatically Public agencies got out or were forced out of adoption by the industry.

      To stay in business, the industry had to aggressively market itself to vulnerable pregnant women. Additionally, they began providing housing, college scholarships and other services to these women. These increased costs and shortage of babies caused the price to go up.

      People who adopt domestically today know their agency is aggressively seeking babies; agencies brag about increasing the "opportunity" for adoption to new groups of pregnant women such as Latinas. PAPs select agencies most likely to supply a baby.

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    7. @ AnonymousMay 7, 2015 at 10:16 PM:

      You are failing to acknowledge that the majority of people who adopt are entirely benefitting from the crisis situations of others.

      You are not neutral in this equation.

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    8. Jane, thanks for pointing this out. I appreciate it, it means a lot. I can appreciate that the adoption system is very different today than it was. I wish people would keep it in mind before classifying everyone in the same boat.

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    9. To me, The only way I can accept adoptive parents being an ''innocent'' party to an adoption is if they have asked the mother and father of the child, "Do you want to raise your child?" Then if the mother and father say no.... with NO upset, distress or tears, hesitation or doubt, then go on your merry way. The only way I could or can give adoptive parents anything resembling a 'free pass' is if they have asked this and received an answer from the mother and father themselves. If the mother or father cannot give a -no- answer without distress the potential adoptive parents need to walk away.


      The definition of kidnap: to seize and detain or carry away by unlawful force or fraud and often with a demand for ransom.

      Yes for many of us our children were kidnapped. Seized and detained (AND) or carried away by unlawful force (AND) or fraud. Of course there is a ransom. It's the, ''try to go to court and get your child if you can/ can afford a lengthy court battle.''......... against all odds. Even today mothers and fathers very often LOSE that court battle. The adoptive parents hold ALL the cards... because rarely, if ever, do they return a child to it's mother or father, nor do they want to.

      Adoptive parents did take our children... they took them happily. Because if they were not there ''making a market'' for newborn infants.............. the newborn infants would be kept with their mothers. They were kept with their mothers before this idol called infant adoption came to be.

      Someone taking what they want from an unsupported or disadvantaged human being, without providing assistance, aid or help, to that human being, is disgusting, repulsive and repugnant.

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  44. Have we considered other viewpoints?

    Surely you jest.

    We have been considering the adoptive parent viewpoint for decades.

    Many adoptive parents find it offensive for us to ask to be called natural mothers? I find it amusing that after reading the post you leave such a comment. Have you also considered how many white people are offended when African Americans pretty much wiped out the N word in any polite society? Or how some white people reacted when "coloreds" didn't want to be called "colored"?

    I presume that you read the first graf and did not read the whole post. Or the comments from other...natural mothers. And yes, as the post says, you and I are both...real mothers. What other group of people are not allowed to be called what they prefer to be called? How does calling us natural mothers demean your status as an adoptive mother?

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  45. Kmom, just a reminder: This forum IS a natural mother's forum. If you have actually read the comments, many acknowledge the damage that adoption has caused for adoptees. Natural mothers are expressing our viewpoints from the nightmare we have and are currently living because of adoption. Do you not get it that adoption is a bizarre unnatural social experiment that has failed miserably? I have two questions for you. What possessed you to buy another woman's baby? How much did you pay for another woman's baby? I wonder how you can sleep at night.

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  46. Anonymous, the only things I can say to you are you are drowning in denial and you must be very desperate to hang on to your illusions that you will say anything to support them. We mothers did NOT make a choice or a decision to surrender. Your level of ignorance is shocking. In order to make a choice or decision to surrender, one must be offered more than one option. We were given one = surrender. It was a given if you were pg and not married. Sounds to me like you will defend your right to own someone else's child to the end simply because you can't face your complicity in the legalized theft of babies from willing but unprotected single mothers. We are the mother. You are the surrogate. You got our child because we weren't married. Hard to accept, I know, but the truth nonetheless. This is why I can't stomach hearing about the feelings of adopters. They only try to reinforce their ownership of our children. They will never admit that they played a role in the theft of them. Without a market, there would be no demand. Adopters provided the market. Sorry, but that's the truth... and no more "sugar coating" because people who adopted keep heaping on the "birth" term to oppress and marginalize. No more. Nope, no more.

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  47. Jane and Lorraine. Thank you for your very insightful comments.

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  48. Cindy Aulabaugh, thank you for your very wise words as well. It is nice and very refreshing to hear so much truth... for once. Mothers are United. And we will have our say. Our babies were STOLEN and we will no longer allow adopters to offend, marginalize, oppress or demean us.

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  49. I have said many times over that I came here not only to present the adoptees side of things, but to learn about first mothers. I would not have donated to Lorraine to publish her memoir if I did not want to learn. I don't know how many times I have said this, but, ok.

    I've learned that birth mothers have the right to be called what they want to be called. And they have the right to respect, compassion, and a relationship with the adoptee, even though they signed papers giving up their rights. Adoptees apparently have no right to decide any of this.

    Adoptees have no right to information or OBC's because birth mothers were promised confidentiality. That's why the records remain closed in my state, so it must be true. A judge in NY last year, when asked about the rights of the adoptee, came out and said point blank: "I don't think they have any." So, there you go.

    Apparently birth fathers have rights as well. My petition to open my records was denied not only because my (deceased) birth mother wants confidentiality, but because my famous, phantom, never mentioned birth father has the right to remain anonymous, too.


    Adoptees have no rights, even when the lack of proper documentation presents a legal problem. Some clerk in an office in NYC read all my records and sifted through my file so I could get a passport. Hundreds of dollars later I finally obtained one. But I have no right to read that information. After all, it only has to do with my life and my origins. Why would I have a right to it?

    And then there's the AP's and all their rights. We were given to these people and are still, in this day and age, expected to be grateful and happy, and never ask questions. The adoptive parents had a right to build a family, after all.

    So I've learned that adoptees have no rights. But I already knew that. What I didn't know was the extent to which people will go NOT to listen to the adoptee. No one wants to hear it. We are labeled "angry."

    There is no logic in it, but somehow this thinking is justified.

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    1. Julia Emily, I am really trying to listen to adoptees and to understand their point of view, most of all my son who like you did not search or want to, but also your viewpoint and all the diverse adoptee opinions out there. I would never want to used to deny adoptees any rights, but indeed you are treated as if you have no rights which is a disgrace.

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    2. In reply to Lorraine about CUB and its origins, and to Jane about the conversation about changing CUB's name: When CUB was founded, I was and am 100% behind its mission of support for moms who had surrendered, and support for adoption reform. Lee Cambell was the dynamo with the energy and organizational skills to get the group off the ground, and the fact that her cutesy name was not to my taste was a minor thing. I am not a PR person, not really interested in names or image or branding, but in grass-roots support and activism. I do not choose organizations I support by their name, but by what they do, and over the years CUB and other groups for surrendering mothers have done a lot of good. Keeping the name was a practical choice that I support. Too much of the adoption reform movement ignores and tries to re-write its own history, so nothing is learned and the same mistakes are repeated over and over again. AAC and the perpetually dysfunctional workings of its board are a prime example of this.

      I do not think changing a name changes much in real life. It is just a new label on the same product. I do not understand what you think would change if the term "natural mother" once again replaced "birth mother" as the most common term. I can see where someone might personally prefer that term, and support your promotion of it, but really do not think it makes a difference in practice or feelings of those dealing with adoption. I'm fine with either and all terms, other strongly prefer one or the other. We need to have room and respect for both points of view and work together on the things that really matter in adoption reform rather than tearing each other apart over words. A vain hope, I know, but I still wish we would not get embroiled in these word wars.

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    3. ...'I do not think changing a name changes much in real life.'

      Marketing firms would disagree. They know the power of words and their associations on trains of thought.

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    4. "I do not think changing a name changes much in real life."

      Archibald Leach, who became Cary Grant, might have disagreed. Louis B. Mayer and the old Hollywood studio system would definitely have disagreed.

      Hollywood understood words in their relation to stories and their role as the building blocks of mythologies. Somehow, a celluloid tale being told by debonair Cary Grant carried more coin than a story spun by former acrobat Archie Leach.

      Is that real life? You bet. Archie Leach the acrobat didn't just rename himself; he became his public persona. He became the debonair Cary Grant.

      What's in a name? What's in a word? Sometimes, the whole caboodle.

      Delete
    5. Actors almost universally keep their given names now, even very ethnic names, awkward names, and names that won't fit on the marquee. Some of those actor name changes were done in order to have glamorous easy to remember names, but a lot of them were motivated by shame and desire to wipe out ethnic backgrounds, often Jewish backgrounds in the early days. Archie/Cary was born with great looks and acting talent no matter what name he used. The name did not make him, he made the name. "... a rose by any other name would smell as sweet".

      As to marketing firms, I have no respect for them when it comes to matters of human emotion and support. How are they better than the adoption industry? Both are about keeping the money rolling in and manipulating people to do things that may not be in their own best interest. Why should we take marketing as an example of best practice?

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    6. Muggery Pope: Hitting "LIke" and :)

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    7. "As to marketing firms, I have no respect for them when it comes to matters of human emotion and support. How are they better than the adoption industry? Both are about keeping the money rolling in and manipulating people to do things that many not be in their own best interest. ......."

      Exactly the point Maryanne. Marketing is -not- an example of ''best practice''... it IS an example of what Marketing is and does with words and labels. Something to really consider in regard to the push for and refusal to accept anything but, the -birth- terminology.

      Delete
    8. ". . . a petunia by any other name would smell as sweet."

      No, it wouldn't. How could it? That doesn't sound quite right. Alter one word, and the magic's disappeared. Just one word changed, and poof! Billy Shakespeare's good work come a cropper. (Now, there was a man who understood word choice.)

      Billie LeSueur might argue the merits of a name change. Yes. She might sit you down, hand you a cold bottle of Pepsi and explain things in that inimitable way of hers. Fixating her glare on you with those huge blue eyes, batting those half-foot-long lashes, thrusting those huge shoulders, she'd explain word choice to you, all right. And you'd "get it." Toot sweet.

      "No more WIRE hangers!" or "No more PLASTIC hangers!" Is there a difference? Joan Crawford would clarify word selection in a way Shakespeare couldn't. Because, well, she's Joan Crawford. Lucille Billie LeSueur became Joan Crawford. But Crawford, movie icon, who died on this date in 1977, is still with us.

      "Mommie Dearest." That was some movie.

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  50. Julia, people here have listened to adoptees and learned much about them. You and others have been heard. We and the other natural mothers who post here do understand the depth of the situation of adoptees. As for the "angry,"--you have a right to be angry because adoption as it is practiced today--and in your case--is a form of emotional slavery. Without any input from adoptees themselves, laws were made that control their self-knowledge forever. No other institution in law, either here or elsewhere, does that.

    But it does feel as if your own particular stultifying situation--with unaware parents you must care for and a family who does not understand--is what you are intuiting to all mothers. You are not heard in your own family, but you are heard here.

    And for the record for anyone who doesn't know, JE has done more for adoptee rights than most adoptees. Even with all the lack of support and understanding on a personal level, she writes letters to the legislators and lets her voice be heard.

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    1. Thanks, Lorraine. God knows I could use the support.

      What I was trying to point out is the fact that adoptees get opposition from all sides, to quote Assembly Member Weprin. Everywhere we turn, there is someone telling us what we are allowed to do, allowed to think and how we should act.

      To hear first/birth/natural mothers say they would throw out a "birthmother" card, or they can't understand the lack of relationship with their relinquished child, or that adoptees don't want to know their natural mothers because we all got shiny new cars from out AP's is exasperating. It is just more opposition. That is the problem.

      Of course the mothers here or on any other forum did not personally contribute to my own miserable situation. But you can't deny that, save for yourself and a couple of others, the general feeling is that no one wants to hear it.



      Save for a very few, no one is listening.

      Delete
    2. Julia, We are in a terrible position--we listen but nothing is done. The powerful do not listen. But we here at First Mother Forum do. When you repeat that we do not listen, it makes us seem like idiots. We can listen but we do not have the power to rip up the law, though god knows, some of us are trying.

      Weprin listens and others who support the unseal-the-records bill do also, but we can't get influential people in Albany to listen. However with the current scandal going on --both the leader of the NY Senate and the Assembly being charged with several counts of corruption! Quelle surprise! --and with new leadership on the way, we can hope for a better day. People are listening to you and other adoptees. Just as I can never walk in your shoes, adoptees can never walk in the shoes of the women who desperately DID NOT WANT to give up their babies but circumstance forced them to.

      The anger goes both ways. BJ Lifton had reasons to be upset with her natural birth mother after reunion, but the tipping point came when she got a Hallmark card that she found upsetting. She wrote about the incident in one of her books. After she got the card she did not talk to her mother for a decade.

      Dean Skelos, the latest object of investigation is from Long Island, as you surely know. And the son they write about in the papers that he illegally diverted money to is adopted.

      Yes, I did find the birth mother card I got from my daughter a bitter pill. I said nothing about it to her at the time, but it made me feel like shit. Later I did ask her not to send that kind of card again. I guess it was my revulsion to the term, the normalization and commercialization of "birth mothers," (what great people they are!), and reinforced my own lack of self-worth. Yes, it did all that.

      I just found the card in my desk drawer and read it and I admit that the sentiment inside is quite nice but of course it's eventually gets to "better chances and opportunities than I might have had otherwise," (a directly quote) pointing out how poor and unable we were to care for our own children. It says nothing about the mother's love and care that she lost for years.

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    3. I would not throw out any card or gift from my son, including a birthmother card which I would be delighted to get. As it is, he only does Christmas cards, no other holidays and that is fine with me. I send cards for everything and that is fine with him. I do not care at all what he calls me, as long as he stays in touch. I don't need special words to know he is my son and I am his mother. Unconditional love does not set conditions, period.

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    4. I think history can give us strength and advice here, since all oppressed or marginalised groups are ignored by the powerful for some time before change happens. And change happens because the marginalised refuse to either shut up, go away, or be defeated by loss of hope. Another deeply important element in the process of positive change is the visible support of those truly moral people within the powerful group who simply refuse to tolerate that which is wrong.

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  51. Oh pulllleeese... I don't want to hear this old, sad claim about adopters not knowing. Of course they knew. The whole of society knew. It was talked about. Written about extensively throughout the Baby Scoop Era and even earlier. My research proves this. I will share some of it with you soon. AND who do you think pushed for closed records? To seal Original Birth Certificates? Mothers? No. Our babies? No. It was the people adopting. The ones who insist on being the only mother... the best mother... the real mother. Not. THEY did that. Read up on the history of sealed records. They initially closed adoption records to the public. Not to mothers. Not to adopters. Not to adoptees. Adopters then, with the help of agencies through legislators lobbied and won to close records to everyone. Adopters were the insecure. They were the ones who were afraid of the Almighty Natural Mother returning. They felt threatened. Why threatened? Could it be? Oh yes! They KNEW we wanted our babies and were afraid that we would do everything possible to find them. So don't tell me they didn't know. Sure they did. They knew full well. Women who "minded the rules of sexuality" wanted single mothers punished. Again, read infant adoption history. You will learn The Truth.

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    1. I'd be interested in this research. But I guarantee you my parents did not know. I see a lot of readers on this and other blogs referring to the "adoption kool-aid" that natural mothers and their children drank - is it really so hard to believe that adoptive parents would drink it too?

      My parents weren't and still aren't worldly people. They come from a family of coal-miners who relocated to the rust belt for better jobs. I have a lot of gripes with them ! but I believe it was their intention to raise a child who needed a mother. My brother who is a few years older than me is also adopted and was left at the hospital in my parents town, abandoned. My parents did not make an adoption 'plan' to get him anymore than his parents made a plan to have him adopted. With me it was a little different, and i think the hoops that they had to jump through to get me left them surprised. I was not available for adoption for many months because i was very sick and expected to die. Once I was 7 months, not many parents wanted me - but my parents did. Like I say, I have a lot of gripes with them especially over the years as our relationship developed - but I remember my parents from my earliest memories as sweet, fun-loving, very caring, trying so hard... they read that Chosen Child to me because they were so concerned what I would think. They told me that my mother was beautiful and smart but too young and still in high school. I'm sure my mom was terrified every day that my natural mom would return and steal me, but she was also afraid every day that my Dad would die young of a heart attack (as was common in our family) and leave her jobless with two kids.

      No matter what research you present it will not change the way i see my parents. Context is important. If I were to be really nasty and blame anyone from my families for my adoption it would be my maternal grandmother, who to this day, still thinks it was a good idea and that my natural father was a bad guy who knocked up her little girl; she thinks i'm a bad seed as well. But I chalk it up to the abusrdity of the times - heck, my parents are the same age as her! Freaking fifties values! we all do the best we can.

      I concede that many but not all adopters these days understand that they are stealing babies. But that was not the case with my parents.

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    2. Thanks, Nancy Jane, for your input here and interesting story.

      Yes, a lot of the time it is the biological grandparents who pushed the adoption, partly because of the shame, partly because they saw themselves actually filling the parent--rather than grandparent--role, no matter what the child was told.

      New York was one of the first states to seal its records. Legislation passed in 1935 and 36--as I understand it--back when adoptive father of two Herbert H. Lehman was governor. Lehman signed it in 1938.

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  52. maryann
    What do you think of the N-word? Would you argue that there is no difference between that and African American and it makes no difference to the people involved? I know, you're not a PR person and so it's all the same to you, you are above petty fighting but here you are in the trenches and won't quit

    I dont comment here much but you are blowing smoke about there being no difference between what we are called.

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  53. The N. word has always been a negative term and a curse, it has never been used in kindness by whites speaking of Black people. It has never been ambiguous except when used between Black folks among themselves in an ironic way (see the early rap group NWA)

    Birth Mother, on the other hand, has been used in positive, negative, and neutral ways in its history, and there is no consensus even among all mothers who gave up a child, let alone the world at large, that it is a curse or damaging word. I still contend that it the intent of the person using a word, not the word itself, that can be damaging or belittling. Your belief may differ, but I am as sincere as you, not "blowing smoke."

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  54. I was conned, lied to and signed the papers while on powerful painkillers. I wasn't allowed to drive on them but I could sign away my baby and my right to mother her myself? It was a travesty that is still happening! And for the children stolen from us to further deny us the role we were given, and then the role stolen from us along with our children is very hurtful. I know adopted children have issues of their own that stem from what was done but it was done to BOTH of us! A crisis was turned into a tragedy that later turns into a bitter "Who's On First?" (Whoever said that, great anaology, I remember reading it here). We are all mothers. We should not be shoved aside. This weekend my daughter will be celebrating Mothers Day with the woman who profited most from my destruction. She gets revered, I get shouted at. I get told hateful things while she gets flowers. Bitter and jealous? You bet!

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  55. “…adopters do not much like going to the Maternity home for the baby. Their acute awareness of the natural Mother’s pain spoils the pleasure of the day to which they have looked forward for so long.” (A Handbook for Adoption Workers, Jane Rowe, 1966)

    You can't dispute history in print.

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  56. [uh... notice how it says the mother cried... yeah, right, we didn't suffer... adopters didn't know... yeah, right]

    "From the adopters’ point of view, besides giving them insight into the early life of their baby, this brief glimpse of the mother can be valuable years later when the child is curious about his origins. It will carry a great deal of weight with him if they can say, for example: ‘We did see your mother for a few minutes. She was tall and slender, with straight dark hair and she had on a pretty red dress. She cried when she said ‘goodbye’ to you, but we told her how much we loved you already’." (Without a Wedding Ring, Casework with Unmarried Parents, Jean Pochin , 1969)

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  57. Lots more where these came from:

    "Adopters themselves feel bad about this. Many take the political dimension of adoption very personally, and have trouble justifying it to themselves or to their adopted children. They cannot bear to think about the situation of the natural mother, or to explain it to the child. They may point to the youth of the natural mother, or to her emotional problems, with evidence that their particular adoption was not associated with inequality or social injustice.... Indeed, the political dimension is usually ignored." (The Politics of Adoption, Mary Kathleen Benet, 1976) Yeah... they ignored the political dimension... meaning that babies were taken away from their rightful, willing mothers simply because they were not married. This to keep them off welfare rolls (yes, I have evidence of this, too. And to, again, serve that very lucrative market demand BY ADOPTERS)

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  58. As an adoptee, I prefer to not use qualifiers, but sometimes they are necessary. My preferred term is biological mother. I grew up with that term.

    I don't see it as a put down. Biology is powerful. It doesn't end at birth. It's a huge part of who we are and who we become. And, it connects me to my ancestors. My biological family are my people even if I never get to speak or talk with some of them.

    For me, biological conveys so much more about my connections than natural, birth, or first can.

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    1. No Lab Coat HereMay 9, 2015 at 2:45 AM

      It is so very interesting how certain terms mean different things to different people. I am an adoptee. "Biological" to me is freighted very differently. Yes, biology is powerful as a discipline of study. "Biological parent" was the enforced term in my home for referring to my parents, the ones who made me. As my APs said, "Your 'biological' mother had brown hair and eyes. Your 'biological' father was tall. Your 'biological' grandparents lived to be quite old, or so we were told." My "biologicals" were simply people who made me look the way I did. Everything else about me was thanks to my APs, at least in their minds. As I entered reunion and learned more about my parents, it became clear that my "biological" parents were far more than a blueprint for my features. When I think of myself in terms of "biology," I think of a lab and white coats and experiments, which is quite sad. I am tired of being a test subject. I don't think of a family tree, as you do, when I think of "biology." Instead, all that I should have had--history, knowledge, connection, and relationships--has been reduced to "biology," and that spare sense of the clinical does not lend itself to warmth in the way I wish it did. I wish the focus were more on family, not "biological" relations.

      I now call my parents either by their first names or "mother" or "father" even with my APs. I refuse to play the "biological" game my APs tried to enforce into my middle age.

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  59. You might not see it as a put down, but you are not an exiled mother, HDW. We are and we know it is a put down. We are mothers. We created life. We loved and wanted to keep and raise our babies. Again, put yourself in our position. Do you have children? What if someone took one of yours? How would YOU feel? Would that render you a non-mother? Would you feel as if you never gave birth? Never loved your baby? No. So why should it be any different for us? We were denied the RIGHT to keep our babies. We were forced to sign and then live decades, some forever, without our OWN child. That is a hideous thing to do to a woman/mother. Hideous. Criminal. There should never be any qualifiers for these mothers. Qualifiers belong to adoptive and step. Not to us. Our babies were stolen. It was theft and it was legalized by Man/woman. A failed social experiment. It was an attempt to pass white babies of white mothers to white infertiles, in most cases. It was planned. It was orchestrated. It was written about. It was Social Engineering. And back during the BSE especially, it was Eugenics. No doubt about that. It is not JUST about biology. It goes way beyond that. We are the flesh and blood and DNA of each other. This is the Most Sacred Bond in life. It should be revered. MOTHER is a reverence. MOTHER is respect. MOTHER is life-creator. In essence, Mother is also God-like. Only God can create life... except MOTHERS!! So no, no one has the right to call us "biological" or "birth" or even "first" or "original." We are mothers. REAL mothers. To use any other prefix or qualifier is demeaning and insulting. It is injuring. It is triggering and wrong. Doesn't matter what you think. This is reality. Reality is mothers create life. Those who adopt the child, did not. Those who marry into a family with children, do not. Terminology is very important and words can be, and often are used as weapons. This issue of language is created by the Adoption Indu$try to hurt real, natural mothers. It is intentional. Well thought out. Planned. They know how to manipulate reality and they count on all of you to follow suit. Do you want to be their puppet? If you use that term, you will be. This term causes at risk mothers today to lose their babies to adoption. It is all a psychological, emotional game. Will post something for you to consider in a moment regarding the manipulation of the Indu$try. Decide if you want to think for yourselves, or allow THEM to think for you.

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  60. Tell me how you feel reading this... Should people be trained to surrender their babies?? This is coercive, pressuring, manipulative and brainwashing. It is EVIL.

    "Counselors must be trained to give women sound reasons that will counter the desire to keep their babies." (The Missing Piece: Adoption Counseling in Pregnancy Resource Centers, Curtis J. Young, Family Research Council, Washington, D.C., 2000)

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    1. Yes, that is absolutely indefensible.
      In my mind, criminal.

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    2. I agree, Cherry. Indefensible is right. But you see, they get away with this kind of thing. They always have. If this guy is saying this in the year 2000, can you imagine what they said and did in the years before the Internet? Well, I know, because I have that research from the BSE. It proves coercion. It proved child theft. It proves transfer of babies from the unprotected to the married and wealthier. It proves that state and federal government colluded. It proves so much. Yet people refuse to believe it. But there it is all in print. They talked about us. They experimented on us. They denied us our civil, human and legal rights. They believed that they got away with it. Well, not if I have anything to say about it. They hope all of us die before we are able to leave proof behind of severe misdoings. Of criminal acts. They acted in secrecy so no one knows The Truth. they used methods that are used during war on prisoners such as Thought Reform and Coercive Persuasion on us. See my article "Not By Choice." Google it. I have written other articles containing my research which are available online, Cherry. Just Google my name Karen Wilson Buterbaugh. I have nothing to hide and I have much to say with a lot of historical proof behind my claims.

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  61. Nancy Jane, it wouldn't matter if your parents were "wordly" or not. "Illegitimacy" was all over the place. In radio, television, magazines, books... you name it. The maternity "homes" advertised all over the place in written articles. Even in True Story and True Romance magazines popular back then and Reader's Digest. If they watched TV, read the newspaper, read magazines, listened to radio, they KNEW. Everyone knew. They knew that it was a done deal... if a girl got pg and not married, she was sent either to "an aunt's" (meaning a relative out of town) or a maternity "home" to be hidden away until she gave birth and then it was EXPECTED that she would surrender her baby. And we did because we were given no other choice. Not told about child support. Not told about welfare. Not told about any option that would help us keep. EVERYONE knew. I understand your emotional need to protect and defend them. But I'm sorry... the fact is that everyone knew.

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    1. I don't think i'm the only one who has an emotional need here to see things a certain way. But I know my parents and you do not. I know my situation and you do not. I believe you regarding your situation - it seems you cannot believe anything i say about my situation unless it jibes perfectly with your feeling and your research. By the way, quoting a book without facts does not impress me.

      My mother was not uncomfortable in maternity wards ironically she was a volunteer at the hospital. She also attended the birth of my brother's son and was honored to be able to do so. So your research doesn't apply to her.

      My mother was also a young woman and i know for a fact that she was acutely aware of the shame of having a kid out of wedlock. Her mother had to quit high school and never graduated because she was pregnant with my mother. Her parents married because of the pregnancy and divorced after she graduated high school. She was scared to death to have pre-marital sex for fear of becoming pregnant. She was scared to death that I would become pregnant before I was married too. Yes she knew about illegitimacy, acutely, as every woman did, whether they had a child or not. I never said she did not know about it.

      But she did not know that the adoption industry was stealing babies. Her own dad skipped out on her and her mom as soon as he had put in his 18 years. She really thought adoption was a way for unmarried women to handle their situation. And today she still thinks it is a good idea to be a virgin before marriage, especially if you are of the female gender. All of these facts about my mom are true, some are good, some are bad, they don't elevate her to God-like status but they do not demonize her either, they merely show that despite what you think about her, or my Dad, you are wrong.

      This is personal to me because, i am reading here for individual stories and experiences with an open mind and they really enlighten me as to what might be going through my mother's mind. But when i engage with a mother here who denies what is in my mind, what has been my experience - it is tantamount to calling me deluded, a liar, or somehow falling into the emotional need to defend my parents and isnt that sweet but pitiful? i must be drinking kool-aid i guess.

      Karen, make no mistake - i'm not defending anyone but myself and my story. disbelieving it is an insult to me, and invalidates me. i guess my circumstance isn't important? maybe it is not convenient? maybe i should just go away into fairyland and then you can talk about me however you wish and believe whatever you want instead of dealing with the reality that i represent. then you would be no better than those who have done that to you.

      Nancy Jane aka Kaisa, sorry about the name confusion that was a blunder and i try to use Kaisa here

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    2. Thanks for continuing to share your story under fire, Kaisa. It is hard to stand up to bullying, but you are doing a dignified job of it. It is appreciated. We are not all case studies out of an old textbook, but individuals with our own unique situations and lives that forums like this give us a right to share. You have gone out of your way to try to understand mothers who have surrendered, and do not deserve to be attacked. We have all suffered, but that does not give any of us the right to dismiss the different personal stories of others.

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    3. Thanks maryanne, my feathers are a little ruffled but none worse for the wear. These comments definitely made me think and I guess that is why i am here! Having thought some more, I have to rebut the God-like comments. I don't see a net difference between being exalted as a holy life-creator any more than being reduced to a lowly birther - either way the emphasis is on reproduction and not on the complete identity of the woman. But then I'm not a mother maybe i'd feel God-like if i was.

      I enjoyed reading Jane's comments about nature and the goddess qualities, as opposed to the laws of man, these are recurring themes in in the arts and liberal sciences. I was an art history major and i love to see things in a poetic light and add meaning to my life in that way. But at least for me these comments are far and away from claiming that someone is God-like for being a mother.

      the notion of mothers being God-like because they create life, as if that is some sort of superior position over all others (else why mention it at all?) is an incomplete view. Whether one believes that God made (hu)man(s) in his image or the other way around, pretty much any 'superpower' that you can attribute to God can also be attributable to humans on a smaller scale. mercy, wisdom, service, judgment, counsel, knowledge, exhortation, self-sacrifice, love, protection of life, destruction of life, the list goes on and on depending on the religion. The gift of creating life holds no certain superiority, although there is reverence given to it as a gift in its own right.

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    4. Kaisa, I've found your comments really interesting. Thank you for sharing.

      And I must say, I cannot relate at all to the god-like comments at all but that's just me.

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    5. Very well stated Kaisa. I was an art major. While I love the image of godesses and mothers and babies, I do not feel at all god-like because I gave birth, nor that I am superior to women who have not given birth. Biology is not the sum total of who we are as women or men. I do not feel that I created my children, making them my possesion, but that they are all a gift to me from Life or God or the Flying Spaghetti Monster or whatever. Mother's Day is a good day because I have been given the gift of 4 wonderful sons, not because of anything I did.

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    6. Thanks Cherry, thanks maryanne :)

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  62. Cindy A I did not meant to speak for you only to say that your note was sad and I am sorry for what you went through. Your added detail is even more heartbreaking.

    KarenWB - there have been lots of changes since 1969... for one, I am a single, unmarried adoptive mom. I adopted as single. I certainly was not punishing girls in the 60s who got pregnant!

    I come to this forum from time to time, very rarely hardly ever post, to learn about all sides of adoption so I can be the best mom I can be to my adopted child. I want to give her the tools she needs so she can have the best life possible. When I adopted her, her family was long gone from the picture. Honestly I don't feel any guilt about adopting this precious wonderful child. It is my greatest joy. I am so sorry though that she had to lose so much and will have to deal with that her whole life.

    What if kids on the playground tell her that she has a fake mom, a surrogate mom, not a real mom .... how will a little girl deal with that? So I come here to learn so I can protect her and help her deal with her history the best she can.

    I would love to have a cup of coffee with a birth mom someday so I could just freely talk and have a discussion. This forum is so emotional and so quickly resorts to name calling and such ... I surf around the net alot to learn from all people involved in adoption, plus IRW I do too.

    GM

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    1. just so you know anonymous, I lost my son in Dec. 1981. and it still goes on today. When I first learned they were allowing single women and gays to adopt the pain (of "your worth even less than a single woman [who didn't get pregnant] to mother your own child") nearly killed me. It still bothers me because the attitude about single unwed motherhood is still very much alive and well in many circles... and women are still losing their children, in part, due to that very thing.

      What I 'went through' is still there every day. It's not a 'one time event' and then done. It's lifelong. I haven't found an amnesia pill to take. It often takes every ounce of strength and a mountain of prayer to get through the day. Just to do the minimum of necessary things.

      and you were, ''speaking for me'', when you said, ''adoptive parents did not take your children''.... yes, they did. the doctor that took my son out of my body and saw to it that I was drugged and couldn't hold him.......was/or was about to become an adoptive parent... I don't know if he didn't take my son first... and then returned him, this momma knows something funky was going on with that... I can't get the paperwork to find out the truth. NOT ALLOWED. Why? What are they hiding? Hospital records are destroyed. I tried to get them several years ago. The other records .... mother's are not allowed in this state to have them.. not even non-identifying info or our labour and delivery records. Go figure.

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  63. What year did you adopt? Did you adopt an infant? If so, how old? Or an older child? How old was the child's mother when you adopted? Not all adopters were married. But that was usually after the Baby Scoop Era. Sure there's a lot of anger here. If you birthed your own child, and someone was deemed more worthy than you to keep and raise it, would you not be angry? What if you were groomed, pressured and coerced to surrender? And then told to never, ever tell anyone? Can you imagine how damaging that would be to a young female's psyche? And then you have not only your baby taken, but your grand-babies taken from you and then your grand-babies. It is loss upon loss upon loss into infinity. Infant Adoption is destruction of the natural family. It is amputation of a family member. It is a man made experiment gone BAD. Most other civilized countries have stopped this practice in favor of natural family preservation. Infant Adoptions should be abolished. Social workers should be helping ALL mothers keep and raise their babies. Instead they, through the Adoption Indu$try, profits by over $1.6 BILLION annually. This is SICK and it is WRONG. Mothers deserve their own children unless there is PROVEN neglect and/or abuse. In many cases, however, mothers are even permitted to TRY to parent before their babies are whisked away and given to other people deemed more worthy, whether single or married. Again, WRONG.

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    1. KarenWB, well said, thank you.

      This bit really resonated with me: 'If you birthed your own child, and someone was deemed more worthy than you to keep and raise it, would you not be angry?'

      I have never been able to articulate that part, but you said it so so well. In my teenage diary I wrote, about mothering my son, 'Why aren't I good enough?'

      Well I was, I realise that now. Despite being young and despite what everyone said, I would've been great. And my son would never have felt abandonned.

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    2. GM, I'd be happy to have a cup of coffee with you. If you live in the Portland, Oregon area, send an email to FMF and we'll get in touch. forumfirstmother@gmail.com. If you live in another part of the country, let us know where and we'll try to find a natural mother for you to hook up with.

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  64. And again, GM, there is no such thing as a "birth" mom or mother... unless you want to be called a "non-birth" one. I've even heard some adopters say that we exiled mothers should be called "birthers." When does the disrespect end??

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  65. KarenWB, I agree with much of what you've written.

    Again, I don't use qualifiers unless they are needed for clarification. And, I have used qualifiers for my adoptive family as well. They are used solely for clarification, not to "other" one side or the other.

    You wrote "It is not JUST about biology. It goes way beyond that. We are the flesh and blood and DNA of each other." I agree. That's why I use biological when I must clarify the relationship. DNA is part of biology. It's huge.

    If I know a mother prefers a certain qualifier (when it's necessary to use), I use her preferred term. I'm just saying that biology is huge. And, when I use that qualifier, it is with reverence.

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    1. Thanks, HDW. At my daughter's wake in her hometown in Wisconsin, a group of people she knew from Toastmaster's approached me and a woman said: Are you Jane's biological mother? It wasn't said meanly or anything and I realized that I preferred that to birth, and that she did need to say something because we were on the turf of the adoptive family, and that mother was right there too. (not within earshot). When I nodded yes, the woman said:

      "She was so proud of you, she talked about you all the time." And the people she was with nodded too, smiling.

      Well, I felt proud to be my daughter's biological mother. And in that setting, at that moment, I must preferred it to "birth." It conveyed so much more.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      Delete
  66. It get so tedious and tiring to hear people say others are attacking or bullying when they are, in fact, sharing and explaining. Look up the definition of attack and bullying. They do not apply here.

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    1. It gets tedious and tiring as well to be told that one's own perception of their own story and family is wrong and not acceptable. You have continuously done this to several people who commented here, adoptees and adoptive parents. It gets tedious and tiring to be called a tool of the adoption industry and oppressor of mothers because of the choice of words to describe oneself. It is possible to explain and disagree without doing that. As to research, you pick and choose what backs up your preconceived bias and ignore anything that does not support what you already believe to be true. Even back in the 70s and before there were some social workers and some adoptive parents writing and speaking out for open records for adoptees and reform of adoption practice. Carol Gustavson, founder of Adoptive Parents for Open records comes to mind, Jane Nast., adoptive mother and NJ activist, H. David Kirk, adoptive father and sociologist, Margaret McDonald Lawrence, social worker, and others. All adoptive parents and all social workers are not child-stealing evil villains as you would characterize them.

      I know you have been hurt terribly, losing your daughter to death as well as adoption, but that does not give you free reign to attack others for feeling differently about their own experience and choice of words. None of us are the ultimate authority on another person's life and feelings. We all have a right to our opinions and they can differ greatly. But we do not have to demean others for not agreeing on every point.

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    2. That makes Mirah, Karen and me who lost our daughters too soon. Are we all 1966 mothers? Or within the Chinese year? The year of the Fire Horse.

      Karen Vedder and Joyce Bahr are also 1966 mothers.

      Worst year ever of my life.

      But whoa! I am not getting that down today. Tony and I worked in the garden, and just making a small patch look better was a good thing. Jennifer sent flowers, we're meeting friends for drinks in a few hours. Life is life.

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  67. Quite the discussion here!

    KarenWB - I don't recall reading that you have found your lost child - have you?

    I was in one of those Homes for Unwed Mothers... yes, I could have raised my daughter, but unfortunately, I was NOT married... I thought of running away with her, but where would I go? I wasn't working, but going to college, so no $$ to run away with her. I thought if I could run away, I'd say her father died in Vietnam, as she was born 1969.
    I found my daughter in 2006, but she wants nothing to do with me. She was a "gift" to her parents from me; yes, she actually said that (thru a letter). She had a child in 2009 and I was "hoping" maybe she'd look me up, but alas, I still wait...
    I like the natural mother designation.
    Julia Emily - I am so sad for you that no one in your family cares about you being adopted. And your frustration in not getting any of your own birth records! Hoping New York will get someone/anyone in there to change the "closed" adoption records.

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    1. Lee, I am so sorry to hear that your daughter wants nothing to do with you. She may change her mind, but I know that doesn't help much. So understand, this is just a mental hug packed with empathy on this day. Take care of yourself.

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  68. Cindy, I would offer that unless a mother spent six weeks post partum with her newborn and THEN approached a potential adopter or an adoption agency for the purpose of surrender, it would be a coerced adoption. So unless the mother makes that decision after 6 weeks with her baby, it would not be a decision she made freely and without outside emotional manipulation and pressure. A "decision" made under duress and without options.

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  69. Yes, Lee, I found my daughter in 1996... thirty years after her birth. I, too, was imprisoned in a maternity "home" facility as an "inmate." It was in D.C. Sent to the hospital by cab and told by the "housemother" to go in and "tell them you're from the home." At the age of 17... no one there with me at all. No instruction about pregnancy, labor or delivery. Oh yeah, that's because they wanted us properly punished and terrorized. This was nothing but flat out ABUSE. Of us and of our babies. They gave our babies to strangers and then never made sure they were being raised with love and safety. Never really investigated well either. We had no "choice." We made no "decision." In order to do that, you have to be given at least two options from which to choose. We were given one = adoption. All carefully planned and orchestrated in order to serve that market of demand by white adopters for white babies from unprotected white, single mothers. Disgusting. And all knew this was happening. It was all over the news: radio, TV, magazines, newspapers. No one can claim otherwise. This was to be punitive. To put us in our place. To make sure we didn't "reoffend." To make sure they (the adoption workers) could serve the demand by mostly infertile potential adopters so that they could fit into society because during the Baby Scoop Era, being infertile, not having children was ALSO a stigma in society. So yes, to your original question. I found my daughter. Our reunion was problematic due to the insecurities and ownership attitude of her female arent. Isn't that, too, disgusting? That at the age of 30 my daughter didn't feel the freedom to know and associate with whomever she chose without recrimination? No words for people like that and sadly, that's what I hear about very, very frequently from exiled mothers when they reunite with their now ADULT "children." Horrible. My daughter was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) and died five years after her diagnosis. Her death was in 2007. She left behind a 7 year old son... MY grandson... who isn't allowed to know his grandmother... ME. I hate infant adoptions. I HATE mother/child separation and what it does to all of us... the lifelong injuries and damages. They take our babies and then our grandbabies and then our great-grandbabies into infinity. For what? The CRIME of motherhood. Since when is THAT a crime? Well, it was when we were pg... and it still is in the eyes of many because at-risk mothers are still being robbed of their newborns, especially because they are labeled "birth" things even before they give birth. Lee, email me or friend me on Facebook. karenwb2@verizon.net Karen Beebe Wilson Buterbaugh. I have nothing to hide. I now have a VOICE and I damn well use it.

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    1. Oh, you are a 1966 mother. There is something about that year that turned many of us into activists. We'd better get those laws changed so we can leave this world knowing we accomplished something to make life better, to right the wrongs that were done to us, to help others not endure the same.

      That year I lost my baby, my love, my home, my job. And I was alone. My family did not know. Sometimes I marvel that I managed to survive at all.

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    2. Karen, it sounds like your grandson is about 15 now. Maybe you can find him on facebook.

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  70. Yes, he would be 15 now, Steve. Thanks, but I've already tried to find him on FB. One day hopefully!

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