Welcome to our corner of the web! Here you will learn about our family and our journey of a family member adoption. In July of 2010, after 9 years of trying to add to our family and 5 years after we started our adoption journey, we welcomed baby Emily Rose. Emily's birth mom is Sharon's adopted sister. We look forward to someday adopting more children but for now, we are enjoying our time together as a family of 4!

Friday, November 27, 2009

What NOT to say to a Birth Mom

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We spent the day with my dad and stepmom and a bunch of family in Logan. (pictures to come) It was a wonderful day. I hope you read yesterday's Thanksgiving Post about the Birth Mother Baskets. It really is a great thing.
As for today's post, this is the one I originally had scheduled for yesterday, but the Birth Mother Baskets seemed more fitting. Today's post is actually sharing What NOT to say to a Birth Mom.
I've seen several lists like these two floating around the internet, but these two are my favorite.
(Today's post is long, but in my opinion, worth the read)
So, What shouldn't you say to a birth mom?
Both of these lists are from birth mom's I have already introduced you to.
This first one is from Andee:
(To see Andee's full post, click on the link above)

1. Don't say things like: "Why didn't/don't you just give me the baby? Obviously you don't want 'it'"
There is little that someone could say to me that would offend me more than this statement. The funniest part about this, is that the first girl that said this to me was 18 years old and still senior in high school at the time. I was so angry with her that I let her know how much she offended me and was quite blunt. Usually I don't tell someone when I've been offended by them... She hasnt' talked to me since.

2. Don't say "Well I had my child out of wedlock and parented as a single parent...and they turned out just fine."
in other words you might as well say, "I can't belive you placed your child for adoption in a home with BOTH parents. That was seriously the wrong decision and I have less respect for you because of it." If you do not agree with my decision to place, either ASK QUESTIONS about why I placed...nicely...instead of being downright rude, or keep your opinions to yourself. If you ask me questions, I will be more than happy to honestly answer. I want more than anything to educate those people that are not aware of the miracle of adoption on THE MIRACLE OF ADOPTION.

Anyone that knows the truth about adoption, can't have negative feelings towards it. I don't see how that is possible. However, there is opposition in all things so I guess you never know.

3. don't say: "I can't believe you gave your baby away"
First off, I didn't 'give Avery away' I placed her for adoption. There is a difference. A huge difference. and Second, giving something away means giving it to someone that you (most likely) don't know and never wanting anything to do with it again. That's not the case. I knew Dustin and Andrea well before I placed Avery into their arms, to be adopted by them, so that she could have a family to be sealed to and two parents in the same home that love each other. AND I definitely want A LOT to do with Avery. That is why this is an open adoption. I love her more than anything and I always ALWAYS want to know how she is doing.

4. If you are married, pregnant and parenting this baby, do NOT complain to a birthmother OR an infertile couple, about your pregnancy.
Don't complain about how long you have to wait or how uncomfortable you are because I can GUARANTEE that when you DO complain to these people, you are causing much grief emotionally on their end. When I was pregnant, I complained about how long it was taking because I knew I wasn't getting anything in the end except more pain and heartache. I want more than anything to be able to create my own child and carry him/her for nine months and THEN parent him/her after he/she is born. It's hard to explain, but it's very hard to hear an expectant mother complain to me about how miserable she is. I just want to strangle her when she does and I'm sure infertile mothers feels the same way. I just want to say to her "At least this is YOUR child and you're not going to be dealing with incredible emotional pain after she is born."

5. Don't complain about being a mother
I'm sure this goes for adoptive parents too. I know that when the time is right for me to have my own kids, I will be so eternally grateful that I can be their mother. I will cherish every moment with them. So don't complain to me about how hard motherhood is. It's harder to give birth to your child and then willingly relinquish your rights as a mother. Until you have done that, don't complain.

6. Don't say "There are people out there who have it worse than you"
Frankly, this shouldn't be said about ANY trial a person is going through regardless of what it is. Saying that does NOT make the pain any easier. Saying that to someone is completely belittling their trial and that is SO wrong to do. I'm sure the person going through it doesn't think they have it worse than everyone else in this world, I know I don't. But it still hurts. Belittling it does not make them feel any better in fact for me, it makes me feel worse.

7. Don't treat someone placing their child for adoption as 'not that big of a deal'
I heard a story the other day. A good friend of mine had just BARELY placed and she was showing her coworkers pictures of her. One of them walked up to her and said "Cute baby, too bad you gave her away." and then walked away. WOW. That's SOO insensitive. Apparantly this person has NO idea what she had just gone through.

This next one is by Jill:

How to Irritate a Birth Mom
(To see Jill's full post, click on the link above)

1. “Didn’t you want her?”
“Are you serious?” is how I always want to respond to this. I don’t know a single birth mother who didn’t want her baby. I wanted Roo more than I’ve ever wanted anything in my life. If I had to choose between breathing and Roo, Roo would win every time. I wanted her, and I do want her, and I love her. But this wasn’t about me or what I wanted. It couldn’t be. It had to be about what was best for Roo, and adoption was it.

2. “I could never do that.”
This one is infamous in the adoption world. I think this of all statements is the one that most would consider harmless. But when I hear that, I want to ask, “Why? Why couldn’t you do that? Wouldn’t you want the best for your baby?” So often the tone in which it is said implies that the birth mother has erred or acted impulsively or been careless, or that she did it because she doesn’t love her child. Adoption is not a choice made lightly or impulsively, and it is certainly not made because of a lack of love. Adoption *is* love. As my friend Tamra says, if I’d loved my baby just an ounce less, I would have kept her. I placed her because I love her.
I also liked Tamra’s advice to me on dealing with this comment. She said to tell people, “No, you probably couldn’t,” in a tone that implies that I am a much stronger person than they are.

If you would say to a birth mom, “I could never do that” to try to tell her that you admire her strength and courage, consider phrasing it differently. Just tell her that you admire her strength and courage and that you can’t imagine how hard it must have been for her.

3. “I’m sure you did what was best for you.”
Someone actually said this to me and I wanted to hurt them. Does anyone really, truly believe that I chose adoption for my sake? It wasn’t best for me. What was best for me was keeping and parenting the daughter I loved so very much. Placing her was hell for me, certainly not best for me. If it was about me, I’d still be a single mother. I did what was best for Roo. Period.

4. “Will she call you mom when she’s older?”
Of course not. Why would she? I’m not her mother. M is her mother. She can call me whatever she wants to. “Jill” would work just fine.

5. “Won’t she be confused about who her mom is, having you in her life?”
Well, let’s see. One of us will feed her, dress her, bathe her, read to her, sing songs with her, play with her, teach her, give her hugs and kisses and tend to her boo-boos and take her to primary and listen when she talks and make sure she’s happy and healthy and smart, be married to Roo’s father and live in the same home, in short, be her mother; and one of us will … visit from time to time. Nope, sorry, I don’t see any confusion there.

Roo will know that she grew in my tummy before she was born, and that I made sure she got to her mommy and daddy. I don’t think she will ever, for a second, be confused about exactly who is her mother.

Going along with that question, people will opine that openness must surely mess with a child’s identity and sense of self. Well, how on earth does having more people in Roo’s life who love her, mess with her? You can’t spoil a child with love. Roo has two families who love her. She will know exactly who she is. Studies show that open adoption is mutually beneficial. All members of the adoption triad find peace and joy in openness.

6. “Oh, you took the easy way out.”
This is another statement that makes me want to hurt the speaker. There hasn’t been a single easy thing about adoption. I didn’t place Roo because being her mother was too hard. Being a mother wasn’t something I wanted out of! What was hard was placing her for adoption. I have never felt sorrow and despair so deep as I did when I drove home from LDSFS without Roo in the car. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life and the pain nearly undid me. Don’t think for one second that adoption is the easy way out. It’s not easy and it’s not an out.

7. “Well, now that she’s been adopted, you can get back to being young and having fun.”
Oh, honestly. I couldn’t believe it when someone said that to me. Did they really think that I placed Roo because she was interfering with my social life? I would take Roo over fun and youth in a second. But I can’t have Roo. So I go out with friends instead. That doesn’t mean I placed her so I could go out and have fun.

8. “You made the right decision.” (said with an air of judgmental superiority)
Well, thanks. I’m sure glad to know that you thought I made the wrong decision when I single parented for nine weeks. And thanks for judging me and deciding what’s right for me and my baby, too. Because that was totally your call to make.
Adoption was the right decision for Roo, but not right away, and I don’t think that it’s the right decision for everyone. When someone says this to me, I wonder what they say to single mothers, women who chose parenting over adoption. “You made the wrong decision”? How rude and judgmental!

Yes, I made the right decision for Roo. But the rightness of it was for me to determine, and I don’t need anyone else to confirm it for me.

9. “You know, you could have sold her for millions! People will pay a killing for a healthy white baby.”
People will say this jokingly, but it always makes me sick. A child is not a commodity to be bought and sold. I didn’t place her for any kind of physical gain and I never, ever would. No one should. Period.

10. “Will she know that you’re her real mom?”
Sorry, I’m not her “real” mom. M is. And what’s a real mom, anyway? I didn’t place Roo with a family of cardboard cutouts. Calling me Roo’s real mom implies that M is … what, her fake mom? Uh-uh. I am Roo’s birth mother, not her real mother. Same goes for the phrase “natural mother.” What constitutes an unnatural mother? There’s a lot of negative adoption language out there I’d like to change, like …

11. “Oh, what made you decide to give your baby away?”
Excuse me, but I didn’t give her away. I didn’t put up an ad on Craigslist, “I’m giving away my baby, does anyone want her?” I placed her for adoption, but I certainly didn’t and wouldn’t ever give her away. I gave her a family. People who ask this question always want to know when P and M will tell Roo that she’s “not really theirs.” That’s funny. I was under the impression that she was really theirs. Hmm. That’s news to me! Whose is she then?

Thank you Andee and Jill for letting me share your posts. I love What Jill said at the end of her list. She said: " And for the record, I think the best thing to say to a birth mother is, “What a brave woman you are. You must love your baby so much to have done that for her.” And leave it at that, folks, unless she wants to talk."

Both are wonderful posts and you should definately take the time to read them both. Birth Mothers are amazing, wonderful, absolutely incredible women who we as adoptive parents, or in mine and hubby's case, hopeful adoptive parents, owe so much to. Birth Mother's deserve to be treated with respect and love. Everyone does of course, but ecspecially Birth Mother's.

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