Thursday, July 21, 2011

What not to say to a birth mom or adoptee

(This is solely my opinion. The things that I have experienced in no way reflect EVERY birth mother or adoptee)

I've seen a few blogs recently that have talked about the do's and don't's of what to say to someone who has had a pregnancy loss. Having experienced 2 pregnancy losses myself, I could totally relate to the horrible things that people say to you. My favorite remark that was made to me after I lost my first baby at 11 weeks was, "maybe next time you'll be more careful." Yes, someone actually said that to me. It took all the morals and values I had to not slap the girl (luckily she is no longer in my life).

As you can see, there are many horrible things you can say when a person is struggling, but there are also things you can say that you may not even realize are inappropriate.

So, I wanted to talk (or blog) about the things NOT to say to a birth mother AND an adoptee and appropriate adoption language.

What not to ask or say to a birth mom

First, the biggest mistake I often hear in adoption talk is "giving a baby up for adoption." I know this a common mistake. I've said it too....and I'm a birth mom AND an adoptee!! The reason this phrase is such a stab in the heart to most birth moms is because it kind of sounds like we just gave our baby away because we didn't want him or her. Which is entirely untrue! In the adoption world, we use the term "place". I placed my birth son for adoption. This phrase is much more loving and just sounds better. We placed our baby in the arms of their parents. We placed them in a good home. Placing your baby for adoption sounds much better sounds much better then giving your baby up for adoption.

"Birth moms are just lazy."
Someone I know thought this of birth moms before they met me. He said he thought this because he thought they just didn't want the responsibility of taking care of a child. As a mother and a birth mother, I can tell you being a birth mother is MUCH more difficult. The emotions you feel far outweigh the stresses and struggles of parenthood. Choosing to be a birth mom is choosing the more difficult path and the "non-lazy" one. I hope not many people think this, but if you do, DON'T say it to a birth mom. Go talk to one so she can change your mind!

"So, did you not want your baby?"
Yes, people actually ask this. I know for many people, they really can not comprehend why I, or any other birth mother, would allow someone else to raise their child. The reasons are usually very personal. And 100% of the birth moms that I have met all WANTED their children, but for their personal and very emotional reasons, chose adoption for their baby. So, please do ask such a hard and hurtful question.

"Do you think your birth son will be mad at your for what you did?"
Why would he be mad? I didn't have my life in order when he was born. I wanted him to have a mom and a dad from the start. I wanted him to have an eternal family. I wanted his life to be full of WILL's not MAYBE's. This question is to try and make a birth mom feel bad because you are saying that her birth child will be angry with her for choosing adoption. I know every adoption is different, but in my own and in the case of my brothers, we are NOT angry at our birth mothers. We are actually very grateful for them.

"Can you get your baby back?"
I hate to think that people really don't understand what adoption is, but I guess they don't. Adoption is much different then foster care. In the foster care system, most children were taken OUT of the home due to a the parents not doing what was best for their child. Yes, they can get their children back after they get things in order and clean up their life. But adoption is different. An expectant parent chooses a family for their child and when that child is born, the birth mother then signs ALL her rights away to the new parents. It varies by state, but usually the birth mother only has a limited amount of time to change her mind (in California it's 24 hours). I just don't think this question should be ask of ANY birth mother. The choice she made was not easy and a question like this may only rise up painful feelings.

Things not to ask or say to an adoptee

"Do you know your real parents?"
Why yes I do. Parley and Earlene, the two that have raised me since I was just hours old. Yes...I know them quite well thank you.
While I LOVE my birth mother, she is just that, my birth mother. My mom is the woman that raised me, my adoptive mother. So, to ask an adoptee if they know their real parents is thoughtless and can be hurtful. Many adoptees don't even know their birth parents. All they have ever known is their adoptive parents, their REAL parents.

"You know your birth mom didn't love you."
Yes, someone said that to me once. Don't was in someone online, a LONG time ago. But I think a comment like this is completely horrible and heartless. Yes my birth mother loved me. That's why she chose life for me and gave me a wonderful family. Someone who didn't love me wouldn't have giving me the life I have.

"All adopted kids are messed up."
I have heard that my siblings and I are the exception to this rule. Because someone knows ONE family who has ONE adopted kid that has some problems, then ALL adopted kids are messed up right? Tell me how many families you know who have biological kids who are "messed up"? I know plenty! So, I don't think there is any merit to this comment. The kid maybe would have had problems if he/she wasn't adopted. Maybe that's just in their personality. And sometimes when children are adopted at an older age and have experienced horrible things, then yes, they may have some problems. But to categorize all adoptees into being "messed up" is wrong and hurtful.

My LEAST favorite saying on the entire planet, "blood is thicker then water." I have heard this comment hundreds of times throughout my life. And I think it's entirely untrue. When I would hear people say this I would think, "but wait, I'm very close to my family and I'm not blood related to any of them, so this doesn't make sense." And the saying REALLY doesn't make sense if you think about it.
Besides your parents, siblings and children, who is the one person you will be closest to in this life and will grown old with; your spouse. I LOVE Sean. My bond with him is tighter then anyone else on this planet and I am NOT blood related to him.

There are many more questions and comments I could post but then this post would be a mile long. So, just remember when speaking to an adoptee or birth mom, it's OK to ask questions. I'm an open book! But be sensitive. I know you are curious but maybe the adoptee or birth mom is not ready to answer certain questions. Let certain things stay personal. And if the adoptee or birth mom chooses to share, then they will. But just remember, in the end, we are all Heavenly Fathers children and he's "placed us all" on this earth to take care of each other until we can return to Him.


Rachel said...

What a great post - so informative! It's so important to be supportive and understanding. Adopting is on my to-do list, I can't wait to have a big rainbow family! :)

Red Hot said...

I believe after recently becoming a birthmom and post placement. I had a girl who told me that she wanted to find her birthparents. She posted it as a status on facebook and another person commented saying, "because you were given up for adoption doesn't that mean they didn't love you?" I was about to lay the smack down. It just shows how uninformative people are about birthparents, especially this day and age and still look back to the "dark ages of adoption." I didn't say anything but I messaged the girl and I felt like I had to apologize for the ignorant person. That's what people are sometimes when it comes to adoption- ignorant. Like a lot of these questions people have asked you. I agree with your answers 100% :)

Olia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cami said...

Thanks for this awesome post. I hope you don't mind I shared it on FB!

Mariel said...

I love your blog, and have a question for you…

“Or so she says…” has long been a proponent for adoption and foster care. In the coming month, I will be launching my new Adoption and Foster Care page. I am looking for any blog posts, written by women ‘who know,’ to be featured on that page, and possibly the homepage of the blog, as well.

If you are willing to share any of your blog posts about adoption on that page, could you please send me the links to those posts? Also, if you would like to have some of them considered for a front page feature, please include a photo of yourself (with or without fam) and a paragraph about yourself, to blend into the top of the post (written in first person.)

Also, if you know any other women or blogs that are willing to participate to help promote adoption/foster care, please share!