Saturday, August 28, 2010

"Birthmother" Continued

My thoughts 72 hours after my last post I Call My Child’s Birthmother “Birthmother”

Thank you for all of your feedback and different points of view. You’ve given me a lot to think about.

My intent in asking the questions I posed in my last post was to create an open dialogue between all sides of the adoption triad in an attempt to lead to increased awareness and understanding. Even if we don’t agree with each other we can certainly learn from each other.

With that in mind, here’s what I learned from your comments:

•  Not surprisingly, It’s a toss-up: Of the respondents* so far roughly half found the term “birthmother” to be offensive while the other half found the term to be non-offensive . There is also a definite pattern here . . .

• The women who see the term “birthmother” as degrading are women who placed babies for adoption 20 or 30 years ago, whereas the women who have no problems with the term “birthmother” are those who have placed babies for adoption in the past decade.

• Many of the women who placed their babies for adoption 20 or 30 years ago felt like they were coerced or shamed into doing so. Furthermore, more than one such respondent reported that her baby’s adopted parents had resentment or ill feelings towards her- How terrible!

One conclusion is that birthmothers take a much more active rather than passive role in the adoption process than they did in the past. Thank goodness for reform!

•  It appears that the majority (if not all) of the newer generation of birthmothers have open adoptions and feel valued by their baby’s adopted parents.

One conclusion is that open adoption is not only beneficial for the child but for birthparents as well.

•  Of those who responded who were adopted, none call their biological mothers “birthmother”.

•  NONE of the adopted parents who responded consider the term “birthmother” to be derogatory. This is the case with my husband and I. (Besides, the term “Birthmother” takes up a lot less syllables than “the woman who, after much consideration and prayer, decided it would be in her child’s best interest to make an adoption plan and chose us to be the parents of her child.” Or “The woman whom we honor and revere for her selflessness and mercy in giving us the chance to build our family”.)

•  If I’m not mistaken, all of the adopted parents who responded (except for one who adopted internationally and has a closed adoption) appear to have semi-open to open adoptions.

•  NO MATTER WHAT TERM IS USED SOMEONE IS BOUND TO TAKE OFFENSE. Therefore, the best thing to do, as mrs. r. suggests, is to simply “ask them how they feel about it”.


•  I sincerely hope that those of you who have had traumatic experiences from adoption can gain support from one another. Adopted or not, if you view your parents as “monsters” or if your family thought you were “bad” that sounds downright heartbreaking. For those of you who feel like you were coerced or shamed into placing your babies (or coerced and shamed into doing ANYTHING, for that matter) I commend you for speaking out. Your voices need to be heard as awareness is the first step to change.

•  Adoption being an industry solely motivated by money and making more of an effort to help unwed mothers and their children stay together was a common theme in some of your comments. I’ll have to chew on those thoughts for a bit and let them digest before sharing my thoughts on the subject . . . perhaps in a future post.

•  One aspect of adoption [as viewed through the lens of a market economy and supply and demand] which has always been disturbing to me is the fact that the "cost" of children varies by race. Furthermore, how do you put a price tag on a human life in the first place? Awkward subject, but money is a necessity in adoption as medical and legal expenses exist and babies and children aren’t handed out for free (at least the last time I checked).

•  In terms of blame, I think it’s important to separate the actions of people (which can be good or bad) from the institution of adoption itself. I appreciated some of your insights on the matter:

“Adoption is not perfect, but it's not perfect because people aren't perfect.”

“Are there bad adoptive parents? Absolutely! But that's a problem of PEOPLE, not adoption.”

“People are not dysfunctional because of adoption. Adoption can sometimes be dysfunctional because of people. That's that.”

•  I’ve heard adoptive couples and prospective adoptive couples refer to the parent of their child as “our birthmother” and I can see how that either makes it sound like she’s literally the one who has given birth to them- (kind of creepy)- or it implies ownership. I’ll steer clear of that phrase in the future when referring to my child’s birthmother so as not to get anyone confused about my dear ol’ mom.

*I am happy to report that the majority of the comments I’ve received stuck to answering the questions I posed. Unfortunately, not everyone is mature enough to express their opinion without attacking others on a personal level and I’ve also received comments which weren’t able to stick to answering the questions without harassing and judging others. Differences of opinion are inevitable but it becomes very counterproductive when someone has an attitude of “This is how I feel and you should feel this way too. If you don’t then you’re stupid/heartless, etc.”

I refuse to publish comments which are blatantly disrespectful and intentionally hurtful towards other commentors or myself. IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR A PLACE TO FOSTER HATE AND JUDGMENT THEN YOU’RE READING AND COMMENTING ON THE WRONG BLOG. Seek elsewhere.

Christina, in answer to your question I don’t believe anybody’s comments here have implied that you should or should not be bitter. (If I need to delete a comment let me know). Although I didn’t coin the term, my definition of a “meanie” is someone who puts down another person simply because they don’t agree with their beliefs.

On an end note, perhaps my favorite comment so far is one that showed great maturity and was an excellent example of a healthy relationship between birth parents and adoptive parents being united in LOVE:

When speaking of her children’s birthparents Sally Bacchetta said,

"No title or label diminishes either their importance in our lives or mine.  Neither of us is threatened by the other.  That's the power of love."

Thanks for the dialogue- I'm going to bed!


LeMira said...

I personally am grateful for the blog post and the discussion it brought out. It's always wonderful to hear all different opinions and discuss a subject. Good dialogue on controversial subjects opens our minds and broadens our understanding of each other and the situations out there. Thanks for posting it!

Carlynne Hershberger, CPSA said...

I just want to say thank you for being open to hearing other points of view. Many times when we comment on blogs we get deleted and dismissed. I think there's value in hearing from people who have been there before - regardless of how many years it's been. I think it's apparent that the difference in attitude can be attributed to the way the industry has changed it's languaging (is that a word?) :)

There's much to be done and much to think about.