' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Birth mother, first mother, biological mother, or relinquisher? Framing the language when we talk about adoption

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Birth mother, first mother, biological mother, or relinquisher? Framing the language when we talk about adoption

Lorraine
Language.

It's an issue at First Mother Forum for even the name irritates some--adoptive parents and adoptees. Adoptive parents object because if we are the "first" parents, what does that make them? You can figure out the answer. It starts with "s." To many of them, we are birth parents, first, last, but most importantly, always. Anything else--save biological--seems to get up their dander but then, biological is still troublesome because it implies DNA, hereditary, ancestry, health history, etc. Biological goes on and on. Biology is real and forever. DNA coding cannot be rewritten.

You can see the irritation on Facebook with the angry comments that pop up on all sorts of pages--for adoptees, for adoptive parents, for all members of the triad--from writers who are angry that birth is replaced by first. Birth connotes a one-moment (hours, actually) in-time occurrence that has us in and out of the baby's life, who by law, becomes someone else's child. No matter what. I don't mean to smear all adoptive parents, because there are many who are accepting and generous in their attitude towards the child's true, biological mother and father and don't get rattled by the term, first mother.


But it is not only members of the adopting class who object. Some adoptees find any use of the word "mother" connected to the woman whose DNA they carry offensive. First or birth, it doesn't matter. Don't even think about natural, the word that an old-timer like me grew up with. More about that later. We at FMF advocate connection and urge mothers whose children were adopted-out to search or be welcoming when contacted by their children, no matter who makes the first contact, the individual herself, or an outsider, whether that be a friend or confidential intermediary or agency worker.

Yet we know that a great many mothers are not receptive to contact with their lost children, and in doing so, compound the emotional consequences of a searching adoptee. Rejected twice is how it must feel, no matter the armor one has put on. So, who can blame them if they refute all claims of motherhood from the woman who rejects them? Poke around the internet, and you'll find relinquisher attached to women who relinquished their babies to adoption. Mothers from the Baby Scoop Era (end of WWII to 1972-73) are generally given a pass and excused. But no matter how you deconstruct it, the demeaning term relinquisher is designed to be hurtful. By ipso facto saying that all women who surrendered children past 1973 are relinquishers is unduly harsh, as well as off putting to those women who might be hoping to be found by someone born and adopted past that year. Discover that your daughter, who you are hoping to have a happy reunion with, might call you a relinquisher, and you might be less likely to search or be receptive when a confidential intermediary calls. The shaming, parental pressure, societal approval of adoption for "out of wedlock" or "illegitimate" babies did not end in 1973. America is a big country, and what might have been tolerated on the upper west side of Manhattan in the Seventies and today is a far cry from what goes down in Peoria. Or Salt Lake City, for that matter.

We've heard stories of women pressured bedside in the hospital to give up their babies, women who have no family or friend support, no financial fall back. Agency workers ask them to consider all that a baby needs, against what they can provide...and to measure that against what a stable, well-off-enough family or person waiting in the wings can supply for the baby you have given birth to. If you are broke and alone, and you've got an outsider pointing out just how broke and alone you are, and if you truly love your baby, you will "do the right thing" and give that child to another. Calling these women relinquishers is anyone's prerogative--just as use of the N-word is. But tell a woman she's no more than a relinquisher, despite what she may have gone through, she's almost certainly going to get her guard up. And be cautious and closed off until she finds she doesn't need to be.

Language has power. None of us are immune to outside influences. Adoptees, mothers, fathers of all sorts. How we frame the discussion influences how we think and act in a particular situation. Personally, the whole birth vs. first argument among mothers who relinquished or surrendered or gave up their children is defeating. When I gave up my daughter in 1966 in a tub of tears and recrimination and guilt, I was called a natural mother. Mothers who kept their babies didn't have to be called "natural" because it was assumed they were. The world has moved on, motherhood can come in many ways, and natural is considered outdated and both too encompassing and limiting. Does it include someone like Nicole Kidman or Sarah Jessica Parker who used their eggs, but a surrogate to carry them and give birth? You get my point.

In my writing, I try to drop using any adjective before the word, mother, if the meaning is clear. There is no need to always add it to adoptive parents as a way to remind them what they don't need to be reminded of; the same is true of birth or first. Since natural seems archaic today (but it is still the term I prefer) I often use other mother--which is what I also called my daughter's other mother--or biological mother. When necessary. I chose First Mother Forum for the blog because I thought it would be easy to remember; in 2008 when I started this blog, I didn't know there was a movement afoot to move away from birth to first. I drop the term birth mother into the blog because that is the term that most people use when they do an internet search about adoption.

What prompted this piece today is an Oped in The New York Times by Jennifer Finney Boylan, a professor who writes that she lets her students choose what pronoun they will be called by. Some of them make up non-gendered "pronouns" and she honors their wishes. This is a courtesy that we mothers are not granted.

People will call us what they will, not only behind our backs, but to our faces. Despite what we want to be called. It took a long time for the N-word to fade and become so incendiary that largely it has been retired, except in reference to the word itself, as here. (Of course, I'm certain it's still used in some quarters.) But when adoptive parents and adoptees object to calling us what we prefer--first mother over birth mother, or natural mother, say, and I see the angry pushback, or the relinquisher term, I know that we are still the lowly members of the adoption triad.

Adoption may seem like a boon, a generous gift, to adoptive parents, but the execution of it to the adopted is our fault. We do best to try to move the language, but when that is impossible, let us let the slurs wash off.--lorraine
_______________________
RELATED POSTS FROM FMF

'Preferred' adoption language is bunk

Excerpt from hole in my heart: A few words about language

Watch Your Tongue. Sometimes.


On another note, I sent in my DNA test the other day. Stay tuned.

Hole In My Heart: memoir and report from the fault lines of adoption
on September 14, 2017
This heartfelt book sheds light on the often untold, disregarded perspective of the birth mother who lost her child to 
adoption as a result of the cruelty of the times. It has been told that the mothers gave up their children, but many 
did not hand over their new babies through any real choice of their own, and often were left with unaddressed pain, 
loss, and lifelong suffering which for many, has never been remedied- even through reunion. As an adoptee, born in 
a closed adoption in 1976 to a wonderful, loving family, as Lorraine's daughter was lucky to be adopted into, I was 
captivated reading the various perspectives and immediately identified with all of the feelings candidly expressed by 
 Lorraine. I am intrigued to share a glimpse with a mother who was forced to relinquish her child, and Lorraine has 
done an outstanding job at making the reader feel what she felt and giving an honest depiction of what adoption looked
like from her viewpoint, which, in my mind, represents hundreds of thousands of silent voices.





35 comments :

  1. This thread takes me decades back to my most helpless, vulnerable state as a minor child. The tactics used to get my "consent" in my drugged state were short of cruel, hideous and barbaric.

    In the ensuing years, I realized I was more than a birth mother. I was also a:
    Persona non grata, Good little marionette, Fertility goddess, Handmaiden,
    Noble slut, Saintly whore, and a Shadow mother.

    I lost, she won.
    I was shamed, she was praised.
    I was fertile, she was infertile.
    I was the mother, she was a stranger.
    I became a stranger, she became the "mother".
    I lost my natural motherhood status, she stole hers.
    I lost my family, she gained one.

    When all is said and done, and what keeps me going:

    "I smile because she's my daughter;
    I laugh because there's nothing anyone can do about that.
    I am my daughter's mother, biologically, physically and genetically, heart and soul, from the moment of conception until eternity, and no piece of paper will ever ever ever change that."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kassandra, truly inspiring - at low moments I say out loud to myself: I am Joanna's Mother Forever.

      Delete
  2. I was adopted in the mid-80s, surrendered more or less immediately after birth, in a closed adoption. I found both of my birth parents in my 20s and am in friendly, sporadic contact with my birth mother, but contact with my birth father ended naturally and amicably after about a year. I no longer have a relationship with either of my adoptive parents. My (non-biological) adopted brother doesn't think about his bio-parents at all, never wanted to look for them, and does not consider them parents in any sense.

    The concept of calling either of them my "first" parents is completely alien to me, because there was no actual PARENTING done - my birth mother apparently did a satisfactory job of gestating me, but pregnancy is not equivalent to caring for a baby.

    I think that the manner in which we refer to biological parents should rest with the children they surrendered. I could easily see how "first" parents might be more easily accepted if they did care for the baby for some length of time after birth, and only surrendered later. But I don't think leaving a newborn child in a hospital in the care of an adoption agency or temporary foster parents makes you a parent in any sense other than "you gave birth and made the decision that the child would be better off with other parents."

    That's my two cents as an adoptee.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You make good points, Alli. As I said, I chose firstmotherforum for the URL because it was somewhat alliterative and thus possibly easy to remember but I do find being called a "first mother" a little clunky and even uncomfortable. I did enter my daughter's life when she was 15 and she soon was spending summers and later, longer times with me and my husband, a thousand miles away from her other home in Wisconsin. She came up with a name she sometimes used--Ma-Raine--a combination of my name with Ma. But mostly I was Lorraine; Mom was her other mother. I do think that we mothers in reunion have to accept how our children wish to refer to us, what feels right to them, and let it go. But IRL if an adoptee were to call their biological mother a relinquisher, it would carry a lot of negative weight and not foster much of any kind of relationship.

      Thanks for writing your thoughtful comment. I hope it helps some out there who don't understand why being called "mother" by their reunited child is not comfortable.

      Delete
    2. 'Pregnancy is not equivalent to caring for a baby'.

      I completely disagree.

      For me, pregnancy and giving birth were times in which my son and I were profoundly connected. So profound that, despite three decades apart, we sought and needed to find each other for our lives to become meaningful.

      The intense anguish of trying to work out what was best for my son, when what I wanted went so against what I was told was best, is caring beyond what most parents are asked to do.

      Delete
    3. And my son calls me such lovely things - mother of mine, the loveliest of mothers. He has allowed himself to have this truth, that he has a mother like everyone else. I'm not his mum, but I'm his mother. The woman who adopted him is his mum.

      Delete
    4. [my birth mother apparently did a satisfactory job of gestating me, but pregnancy is not equivalent to caring for a baby.]

      I understand what you mean - the actual process of birthing an infant is not the same as literally feeding and clothing a child for 18 years.

      But for most families - and this includes intact biological ones as well - the mother and infant are affected and connected in-utero.

      Mei-Ling

      Delete
    5. I adopted my daughter from foster care and we have been so incredibly lucky to have a good relationship with her family. She calls her mom "Tummy Mommy" (she's only 6)and me her "Heart Mommy." She went to daycare with many other children who were in foster care, adopted and in non-traditional families, so at this point, she really doesn't see anything unusual about being adopted. I recognize that as a parent, I am "writing her story" through my words and actions. I have tried continually to ensure that she has the words to express how she is feeling and to accept her emotions with dignity and respect. Her mom has a place in her life that I can never fill, just as I have a place in her life that her mother can not fill.
      "She is hers in a way she will never be mine, and mine in a way that will never be hers."

      Delete
    6. First of all, I think it is important not to minimize Alli's characterization of how she views her adoptive and biological mothers/fathers (I am using her terms). It is my opinion that, ultimately, it is up to the adoptee to decide what they want to call them.

      Next, speaking from the perspective of our situation, my adoptive son calls his biological mother "mom" or "real mom" when he talks to me (clearly, he knows I would understand he is not referring to me as "mom" or "real mom" in the third person). When he talks to my husband, he refers to his natural mother as his "other mom" - so my husband knows he is not talking about me. He calls me "mom" as well.

      While Alli has every right to describe her relationships as she views them, in my situation, my son's mother (whom I refer to on paper as first mother or natural mother, so people know I am not referring to myself, and I call her "your mom" when talking to my son because he understands I am not talking about myself) definitely had the most important parenting role in my son's life. My son's mother is a drug addict who lost her first child to adoption. When she found out she was pregnant with my son, she was determined to keep him and made a Herculean effort to stay clean. The excellent prenatal care she provided him gave him the start in life which, quite frankly, overrides anything I can give him as his adoptive mother. And I am not saying this to be modest, I think the advantages of good prenatal care are universally acknowledged.

      The fact that my son's natural mother could not remain drug free does not relegate her status to "Tummy Mommy." Sorry, Anonymous (the other Anonymous, not Mei Ling), but that is definitely a term coined by an adoptive parent. The "Tummy Mommy" provided the tummy and the "Heart Mommy" provided the heart? I know that is not at all true in my case, or in most cases. I have had two life experiences where losing a child did a number on my heart. One was when the baby I carried, a little boy, died in utero at 5 months - I don't remember much of the 2 years after he died, I stopped living too. The other was when the foster daughter I love dearly went back to her mother - I don't remember much of my life in the 2 years after she left either, I was grieving too much. So, the heart of a mother gets roped in early on, no matter when you get called on to be a mother. There is no "tummy mommy," only a mommy - and every mommy is a "heart" mommy as far as I am concerned.

      Having said that, however, I believe Anonymous has good intentions and acknowledges and respects the mother who gave birth to her daughter. Sounds like you have an open relationship - and if your daughter's mom has no problem with "Tummy Mommy," then it is not mine or anyone else's place to say otherwise.

      Delete
    7. Meh, maybe not the first parent, but definitely the first mother. Never a birth mother or birth parent, but always the first mother and simply...mother.

      Delete
  3. Adoptive parents control the language to shape children's perceptions of their natural mothers.

    "Birth" mother denotes that our primary and only function in the lives of our children is to incubate. We are incubators or birthers of "their" children. Our importance and "use" begins and ends at birth.

    "First" mother denotes a primary importance. Adoptive mothers want to be the most important so they often reject that. It also implies a continuing importance in the lives of our children, not "cut off"at birth, just first. They want us cut off so they don't like that term.

    They may like "biological" or "genetic" mother, as it implies we are only the "genetic contributors". At the same time, they want their own biological children, having only settled for adoption when they fully are fully convinced they can't have that, so they don't like to call attention to the fact that "their" children are not biologically theirs. Moreover, they don't want our shared biology to connect to each other for life. Most want to sever that connection completely.

    The need for current medical histories dictates that it is important to maintain that connection for the adoptees well-being. Yet, some adoptive parents don't care to maintain that connection even to the determinant of "their" child's physical health. They compromise that child's *life* to maintain their claim and hold on them. So much for unconditional love and self sacrifice for the "best interests" or "their" children.

    Most don't even want to connect the term "mother" to us at all. They want that title to belong exclusively to them, thereby severing the natural relationship and all importance of that natural relationship completely.

    They default to our first names. We are just another person in the world with no meaning or significance in the lives of our children. That woman named _______

    Since they shape the minds of our children, they chose the terms to dictate how our children view us.
    Ultimately, the goal is to diminish, demean, or eradicate our function and importance in our children's lives all together.

    (to be continued in another comment)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Interestingly, in the beginning, they called "martyrs", "saints", for making the "ultimate sacrifice" for the "best interests" of our children. We are "beautiful", "selfless" mothers who are willing to suffer tremendous loss for the well-being of our children. We sacrifice for them.

    But, as soon as the papers are signed, we are "relinquishers", "abandoners", self-centered women who drop the ball in raising our "unwanted" kids.

    Tell me, how many of us were not given the "choice" of continuing to remain a part of our children's lives? How many of us were promised continued involvement, and were denied? How many of us fought to get through to our children, but the adoptoraptors wouldn't allow us to be a part of their lives? How many of us would have chosen to be as involved as we possibly could, providing as much financial and emotional support to our children as we were "allowed"?

    Most ALL natural mothers want AS MUCH INVOLVEMENT as we can get. We are denied and rebuffed.

    Adoptive parents DON'T ALLOW us to be a part of our children's lives.

    Then they tell our kids we abandoned them.

    Really?

    It's complete bullshit. People toy with our heads and hearts. They demand we accept and promote their self-centered approach to adoption. The demean and abuse us with titles that don't reflect the reality of the situation at hand, to distort reality to build themselves up and tear us down in the eyes of our children.

    And they certainly don't want us to call *them* "adoptive mothers", because it calls attention to the fact that they are "mothers" *only* by adoption. They want the whole package, as if they were by nature the only mother. This is a clear distortion of reality.

    Generally adoptees, conditioned to the world view of the adoptive parents, use the language their adoptive parents dictate to appease their insecurities and narcissism.

    Personally, I refuse to use the language people demand that I use, to perpetuate whatever philosophy of thought they want adoptees to grasp.

    I call myself a natural mother, because I am, by nature, a mother. It is not just by biology and genetics, but by love. My entire physical nature changed to accommodate, nurture, and bond to that particular child. Their cells still remain in my body. I love that particular child with my whole being, and am bonded to that child for life. I did, and would still, sacrifice my life for him. That is what mothers are supposed to do.

    Our children can call us whatever they want. They usually default to whatever their adoptive parents want and have conditioned them to believe.

    I refuse to play that game, the game of distorting reality to appease adoptive parent insecurities.

    I call them adoptive parents, because that's what they are.

    If adoptive parents win "their" child through lies and coercion, as most do, I call them adoptoraptors, because that's what they are. They prey on young girls in crisis, woo them, lie to them, use them, break pre placement promises, and discard them like a piece of trash to make their dreams come true. They are, in fact, abductors. They are what they are based on objective actions.

    I call it as I see it, and no one can force me to use their preferred language.

    People can call me whatever they want. I know what I am. I am a mother, by nature. The first, the biological, the genetic, the physical, the real, mother. And I love my son, as mothers do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unfortunately some of us first mothers are told by our found children that we abandoned them when we did not.

      Delete
    2. How come no one talks about an adoption reunion where mom says i’d do it again (as in give me up)? Stupid, hurtful words no matter what the circumstances you never say that to so a child given up who already has abandonment issues. Way to go! Great way to ruin a reunion that foolish me thought was going well. It seems your sight is one sided.

      Delete
    3. That's horrible, Anonymous, but you have to understand that many, if not all of the real mothers here, would do something different, if with all of their knowledge and experience they would be Quantum Leaped back in their own young(er)and pregnant bodies, because they know now so much more... But you have to understand that not every mother did develop her understanding of adoption, that some of them seem to be stuck in that situation, She still may not see a way she could have done anything different to escape from a sitituation which could make her behave like a callous, emotionless child abandoner. She may just have switched her emotions of, to survive the birth, the relinquishment, and as quite often happens gone back somewhat to that behaviour pattern. It isn't fun, granted, but in retrospect you should have asked: "Why?"or "Howcome? I would have liked it a lot better to stay with you". It could have been a great oppurtunity to learn more about the inner workings of your mother and the realities she did and does perceive.

      So, please, forgive your mother, as it seems she didn't know what she did. Mothers are people too, and all that A-word stuff can mess them up, sometimes even worse than the adopted victims.

      Delete
  5. I'll add, that I have difficulty calling most adoptive "mothers", "mothers" at all.

    By demeaning us, "their" children's natural mothers, by denying that relationship which adoptees so desperately want/need, to demand loyalty and dictate the language their children use, to toss out their entire natural family so they clear the way of competition for their affections, they use their children to assuage the pain over their infertility, just as they have used us.

    And the kicker is, adoption doesn't "cure" their infertility. They still long for, and grieve, the loss of the idea of natural children. I believe some adoptive mothers would trade in our children for a chance to have biological children of their own, in a heartbeat.

    So they cling on to those who soothe their grief, and deny them the very thing that they want for themselves so badly, a natural family.

    They betray their true motives by what lengths they would go to to make "their" family appear as natural as possible, their motherhood as natural as possible.

    They want that, so, so badly. If they can't have it, neither can "their" adoptive kids.

    A "real" mother will sacrifice her lives for her children. Most adoptive mothers then, by definition, can't be "real", because they are incapable of sacrifice for the "best interests" of "their" children.

    They are nothing more than legal guardians, and often doing a bad job of it.

    They mess with the heads of those they have promised to nurture and protect.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Like a painting your words bring us deeper into and reveal newer meaning to the cruel world of adaption. Mothers like you and Lorraine and all the other mothers have been my only solace in bearing our society's sanctions against unsupported pregnancies.

      Delete
    2. Denise, this is probably the BEST and most accurate explanation I have ever read. All three of your posts hit the nail on the head with the reality of adoption. Keep writing, as you have a talent of putting reality in a nutshell. You just told my story and described the adoptive parents to a tee. Thank you for putting in writing what I have tried to articulate for years. Your posts helped me so much.

      Delete
    3. Denise, I’m an interested onlooker with adoption trauma in my extended family, not an adoptee or an AP, but I also found your posts thought-provoking and well-done.

      As Lorraine and others often have said, adoption is everywhere and they could just scream... well, I found another heart-rending example in detail.

      If this isn’t too O/T, I just finished Joe Hagan’s biography of Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner, titled “Sticky Fingers.” One of the many appallingly detailed details occurs when Wenner and his wife adopt a son in the mid-‘80s (“sharecropper babies,” the facilitator called his sources).

      Nine months later, the then-Mrs. Wenner conceived the first of her two biological sons, who grew up to be the golden, chosen ones while the adoptee became what Hagan called “very unhappy,” in great detail. I was grieved but not surprised.

      Delete
    4. Not all families who adopt have infertility issues, some just want to have children regardless of the "how".
      Also, not all birth mothers and fathers want to be apart of their child's life.
      I've adopted first and given birth second and from my experience the pregnancy and birth itself didn't make me feel that is the only part that makes me a mother.
      Raising my daughter for 6 years since birth definitely gave me the opportunity to grow into being a mother.
      I don't feel that pregnancy and birth totally encompasses all of that ,only part of that, which is why I use the term, birth mother mother,to honor the part she had in my daughter's life.
      She grew her within herself, not just physically, then brought her into this world .
      I don't look at that as a small task.
      But I don't account that either for all the work, love, and dedication I've put into raising my daughter over the past 6 years.
      Two different parts that have different roles in my child's life.
      Both important ,but not the same.
      She can't account for the mothering I've done for years, just as I cannot account for the time she spent and experienced during her pregnancy, labor, and birth.
      But ,I am my daughters mother.
      My biological father was part of creating me, but he didn't raise me.
      My dad raised me, and that's more important to me than him sharing the same blood as me or taking part in creating me.

      Delete
  6. Lorraine, you have reminded me of my own insistence, to myself that if only the proper title were used to identify me as, in fact, the only mother without whom my daughter would not be born and suffered being "handed over" (my latest dark term)to another women in "need." Suddenly, I realize nothing would change. I am still grieving for my lost daughter to another woman and another world that rejects any possibility of my inclusion in their lives. Use of a proper title has not closed the wound, not relieved the grief and sorrow, nor the current daily reminder that my first daughter, Joanna, will be "celebrating" another birthday on January 29, and she will again be absent.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I was never too politically aware or correct and so I never minded the term birthmother I actually like it "Birth" is a good word and "Mother" is a good word- so. I do respect and appreciate the mother who raised my child, but I disagree strongly with those who say that "gestating" a baby doesn't make a person a mother. If it didn't, I wouldn't have gone through the hell I did after giving my baby up and the unreality that ensued for years until I searched This damn connection is just a mystery and cannot be undone by any laws of man. Just my 2 cents-from my own experience. I never forgot and went on with my life like the idiot social workers said. They're probably happy I suffered so much. That'll teach me to be so young and happy when my baby was born

    ReplyDelete
  8. From my own experience, the most common term used to describe first/birth/natural mother is "real mother." This nomenclature is preferred by almost everyone who is not a member of the adoption triad. It's used by all ages and classes.

    This really irritated my adoptive mother. She taught me a memorized script to repeat to anyone who referred to my natural mother as my real mom. It happened a lot because I often told people I was adopted, to which they would respond, "Do you know who your real mom is?"

    The memorized response was "My adoptive mother is my real mother." But no matter how often I repeated that, people didn't change their thinking. I felt misunderstood.

    ReplyDelete
  9. The odd thing is that many people (specifically those who use the term "birth" mother) in adoptionland will say that they are not using the prefix "birth" to denigrate the mother who conceived - rather, it is an honour to identify her by using the prefix that indicates what her role was - she gave birth, but did not actively raise the child, so there is no malicious intent.

    To which I point out "Think about a situation where the mother died when saving her son. Let's say her son is a toddler. When we talk about her death, we refer to her as a mother. Not a birth mother. A mother. Period. Because she is recognized as the boy's mother even if she physically died, she did not stop being his mother."

    Another argument is adoptees who insist the term "birth" mother is not meant to mislabel, do not seem to have observed that literally every mother out there who conceived her child is by definition, a mother by birth. They say "We're not defining her by the act of giving birth, I only use 'birth' mother to differentiate her from the mother who raised me."

    But if that were the case - shouldn't we be saying every mother who has given birth is a "birth" mother? They all gave birth, correct? But what the difference is, is that they didn't RAISE their child, so they HAVE to be differentiated.

    Couldn't we all just use context and our brains instead of getting hung up over prefixes? I've never understood this.

    Mei-Ling

    ReplyDelete
  10. I understand the disparagement inherent in the term "birthmother" now that I am older and much more aware. The last few days I've been in flash-back mode which doesn't happen as often anymore. Anyway, it's very unpleasant and I've been trying to trace it back to the beginning and I think it was signing some legal documents This is the time of year I signed the surrender papers. Anyway I've been sending weird e-mails to all kinds of political groups- Democrat and Republican alike As far as language goes I think a lot of girls are tricked by the name "Planned Parenthood" -because I think most girls really want their babies but are scared and conditioned by society to think they're supposed to do the right thing and have an abortion. In a haze of youth and panic and semi-consciousness, "planned" is a good word and "Parenthood" is a good word. Maybe they should change the name to women's clinic or something. Maybe this flashback mode was just the weather It happened when the temperature went from 60 to 28 in 3 hours Yeah, I'll just blame it on the weather Thank you for this blog -I think I'll stop sending weird e-mails now

    ReplyDelete
  11. You beautiful women are Mother. This is who you are. Your child has your DNA, your characteristics, your disposition, your eyes, your hair color, your smile. She/He is your baby. No paper, no amount of money can ever change that. My heart aches for you. I am Grandma. I am the heartbroken Grandma who now cries like I've never cried before. I recently found out that my grandchild was taken from her Mother, my daughter, at birth. Our beautiful granddaughter was taken from her Mother, her grandparents, from her great-grandparents, my Mom and Dad, who will never know this beautiful girl, their great-granddaughter. Mom is dying from Alzheimers Disease and Dad has passed away. Sadly, it is too late for them. Our granddaughter was also taken from her aunts and uncles, from her cousins, from her siblings, from all her family, a loving, wonderful family who have missed out on so much of her life and who are now to her - strangers. Do people who adopt ever think about the great sadness they are bringing to others? We all have things that we "want." But we don't always get what we want and we sure should know that you don't take things that don't belong to you, especially children, especially their birthright. But you Beautiful Ladies - You are Mother. I am Grandma. We cry together.

    ReplyDelete
  12. People not coached in adoption parlance use "real" and "natural" because that, after all, is what she is.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Lorraine, you wrote that some mothers are not receptive to contact with their lost children. If it is the mother herself that refuses that is one thing but how many times has a relative said, "your mother isn't interested" with the adoptee believing that the mother had actually refused contact?

    There is a news story of just such a situation happening now, when in fact the mother very much wanted to reunite with her daughter and is now desperately trying to get the word out to find her.

    *****Jefferson City woman fights to find daughter she gave up for adoption*****

    Her sister had been contacted and told the daughter that her mother didn't want contact. Only she very much did and does.

    Makes me wonder how many times this happens and if wrong assumptions by family members are caused in part by the prevailing narrative on the so-called birth mother privacy /confidentiality that's being pushed to keep OBC's closed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is exactly why I urge everyone not to be silent about their fears simply became no one in the family brings up the subject of the missing child given up for adoption. Speak out! Speak up! Shock your family! Or maybe they will say...I always wondered why you never said anything.

      Delete
    2. Absolutely Lorraine! Even if family members don't want to hear it. Make them hear it. It's that important.

      I like how you say, "shock your family". :) Yup, even if they once gave an unreasonable and unrealistic statement like "we'll never speak of this again". I now see it as, ok, you won't ever speak of it again. I never said I wouldn't.:)

      I said something like, "If my son ever contacts you looking for me, give him my phone number and back off (i.e. no meddling this time)...for awhile. Sounds harsh, but no choice in the matter first time around and I wasn't going to stand by and let a 'meddling interloper' possibly separate me from my son again. I'm sure there was a gentler way of putting it, but when it comes to things -adoption-, this mother isn't always in a gentle frame of mind.

      Delete
    3. I think that happens no infrequently, Cindy. My daughter contacted a relative because she did know how else to contact me. The relative contacted me but did not tell me who was looking for me. There were misscommunications which delayed our reunion by over ten years.

      Delete
  14. Hello, I've been reading this blog for the past several days; I don't even remember how I found it. I want to apologize if this is out if place and for any errors (I'm typing on my phone) I just really need to vent.

    My husband is adopted and we are trying to have our first child. I'm feeling all kinds of emotions that I cant really explain in words.

    I want to have a child with him and it's important to me to know about my child. I never pushed him to learn about his bio parents because I felt it wasn't my place. He's always said he doesn't care to know them but I don't believe him. I've witnessed him get emotional to the point of tears as he watching an adoption story on TV. I think that he feels responsible for his adoptive mom's feelings. She really emotionally manipulates him and always has him feeling guilty about the most trivial things.

    He was told he was adopted at 7. She said he didn't really have much of a reaction and he never really brought it up. He's an only child and not very close to either of his parents extended family as they all live in other states...his entire life btw. His mom recently gave us pictures of his 2 older brothers when they babies. I don't know how long she had them for..i think I remember her saying the case worker gave them to her. She said bio mom was a struggling single mom and couldn't afford another child and gave us a name but not sure if it's correct. I didn't press her for questions because again I afraid it's not my place. I don't believe that's all she knows. Maybe I'm wrong but if it was me I know I'd want to know more info about the bio parents of the child I'm adopting. Well, nothing more was said and my husband didn't ask any questions. He does look a lot like one of his brothers.

    Well, we are trying for a baby and I've already had two miscarriages. When mil found out she said I could always adopt. It really pissed me off! I was just thinking wtf we just started trying and I have no idea why I miscarried! I haven't had the routine testing at that point, and you're trying to control this for me and your son! Just adopt she says. As if it's that easy. With no consideration for the fact that your son wants a blood child btw and I want him to have that connection. If my eggs or body is an issue I have no problem using an egg donor with his sperm. I know this is bothering him and he's an only child with no real family connection besides his adoptive mother. He's such an amazing person that after my 2nd miscarriage he said we could adopt. I know he said that for me. He told me many times before...no adoption, I want my own blood kid.

    I just don't know what to do about his bio family. I don't believe he doesn't care. I have told him what if your mom is waiting. What if she doesn't want to upset you so she's waiting for you, I asked. What if she just wants to know you're alive and well. He never replies really so I just drop it. If i have a child with him I want to know mote about his bio family but I feel stuck. Anyway, thanks to anyone that bothered reading this. Your stories are heartbreaking and I wish you well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Anonymous,

      I just read your story as shared in these comments. I wanted you to know that I am moved by your thoughtfulness as a wife. As an adoptive mother, I find that what works best with my son is to let him initiate conversations and feelings about his biological family. There is no way for me to predict when he might experience certain emotions. For example, during the summer when he turned 7 years old, there were a lot of tears shed and grief expressed over his missing family. Then for almost two years, he didn't talk about them at all. Recently, we were talking about something completely mundane, like going to the beach, and he suddenly said, "It has been 8 years since my mother saw me. That is too long for a mother to be separated from her son." His mother's last communication with us was when he was 2 years old. I have now initiated efforts to re-establish contact; it is something our son fiercely desires. But my point is, we try to let him process his feelings as an adoptee in his own time and in his own way. I think he knows that we are there to promote his well-being in any way that we are able, so we step back and let him take the lead.

      I am sorry your husband appears to be manipulated and guilted into (perhaps) misplaced loyalty towards his adoptive mom. Hopefully, in time, he will arrive at a place where he wants to at least learn more about his biological family, if not have a relationship with them. That certainly would be great for your child (which I hope happens for you) - in fact, becoming a father might trigger a desire in him to know more about his biological family. When you do have a baby, I think it is fine for you to express to your husband that you'd like to know more about his biological family. But as far as what he chooses to do, I think you are doing the right thing by putting your thoughts on the matter out there, then stepping back and letting him process what steps he wishes to take, and when. I am sure he appreciates your love and support. I wish you both contentment and (soon, I hope) the joy of giving birth to your baby.

      Delete
    2. Dear Anon: I often hear from women married to adoptees who do not want to search for their biological parents, but the women, like you, want to know more about the medical/emotional history of their mates. Often searches initiate after that.Like Jay, I hope you can convince your husband that searching is not a slam against his adoptive parents. Adoptees will slam the door shut on their ancestry because they simply "do not want to go there" and open up a Pandora's Box of emotions that may be painful; so they paper over their innate desire with the idea that "it would be disloyal" to their worthy adoptive parents.

      As Jay says, trying to have a child, or having one, is the appropriate time to bring up your own curiosity about the child's heritage--and your husband's. We wish you the best of luck.

      Delete
  15. To see what the proper terminology is lets do a lie detector test: Man is contacted by a woman given up for adoption many years ago who is hoping to make contact. He tells the woman he will pass along the message. He later confronts his wife saying "You told me you didn't have any children, why did you lie to me?" and her response is "I didn't lie, I said I don't have any children, you didn't ask me if I had any birth children". Or say he's contacted by a sibling group representative looking to make contact with their mother who had donated her eggs many years ago..."I did not lie! You asked if I had any children! I would have told you I have 45 or 50 donor offspring but that's not what you asked me!"

    Bottom line is that if someone were to ask a woman with offspring is she a mother or does she have any children of her own she'd be lying if she said "no I'm not a mother" or "No I have no children". A woman can't reproduce and make a son or daughter for another woman. Her offspring are her sons and daughters like any other piece of her body is hers. It's a lie for people who adopt to refer to the people they adopt as "their son" or "their daughter". If a person adopts and they don't use the prefix adoptive before using the title mother, it's lying by omission and leading the listener to believe that she's referring to her offspring rather than to someone else's offspring that she's raising. Now maybe it is not everyone's business but on the same token that is a strange lesson to teach the person your raising that some people simply don't need to know who they actually are is different than who they represent themselves to be.

    ReplyDelete

COMMENTS AT BLOGS OLDER THAN 30 DAYS ARE UNLIKELY TO BE PUBLISHED

COMMENTS ARE MODERATED. Our blog, our decision whether to publish.

We DO NOT post comments that consist of nothing more than a link and the admonition to go there.