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MarkLaurie

Positive Adoption Language

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This is a particularly brilliant post from elsewhere on the Forum that just has to be reprinted here, because it sums up so beautifully why HOW we talk about adoption truly does matter:

Amanda, I can completely understand what you are saying about the use of "giving up and giving away." The more I hear it, the more it makes me sad. You typically do not hear these terms used with something so precious. I mean, you might "give up" eating sugar or fattening foods. You might "give up" golf or another pasttime. You might "give away" clothing when you clean out your closet. You might "give away" a piece of furniture you no longer need. Using these terms to describe the loving, selfless act of an expectant parent to make an adoption plan for their child just completely minimizes what adoption is. This term is unfair to both the birthparents and the child. It makes it sound as if on a whim an expectant parent just decided to "give away" their child. As if it was easy. As if they just didn't need it. Last I checked, a child is much more precious than any piece of clothing. Certainly not something you could just "give up." I'm pretty sure most people haven't grieved over the last shirt they gave away when they cleaned out their closet. Please people, don't equate adoption with something so trivial.

Sorry for the ramble, but we all have our things that bug us and this is mine. I cringe whenever someone says, "I could never just give away my children." Well, birthparents do not just give away theirs either. It is just not that simple.

What a great post!

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Bumping this up because we can all use a reminder every once in awhile about positive adoption language. Also, it's important to remember that a woman is not a birthmother until she places her child for adoption. If she chooses to parent, she is simply the mother.

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That's true! I remember when we were matched with our birthmom. I was very excited at becoming a mother myself but I had to remind myself we were NOT Yet parents until she placed Jack a few days later. Those 48 hours were very hard but I had to keep in mind that I needed to take care of her needs too!

It all worked out!

Laura

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I really appreciate how much better we all have gotten around here, about not "congratulating" would-be adoptive parents until the paperwork making them parents is done, and about remembering that even amidst that joy there is great pain involved, and reserving the term of "birthparent" only for those who have made that loving sacrifice after a birth, and NOT using that awful B/M abbreviation for anyone as dear as a birthmother! and including support for the Abrazobabes' bio-families in the loving replies to both the baby announcements that are posted and the notes of condolences in response to news of matches that have failed... big hugs to everyone who's ever had to stop and reread what they've written and maybe even make a correction, in an effort to ensure that we're referring to the process in the most loving and appropriate style possible!! Keep up the great effort, y'all!

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Funny I was just talking to my friend about this the other day.

The one thing that irritates me the MOST is when I tell people my son and they say "what a great thing you did". I get this when they see he is black too. It's really irritating and I have actually told people that "To tell you the truth it's not what I did but what his birthparents did, because honestly they could have parented him and they would have been GREAT parents. They chose to adopt not because they couldn't provide for him but because they couldn't provide (IN THIER OPINION) everything THEY wanted for him."

I also get really upset when they say "it's for the best" when they hear we haven't heard from his bmom in a while. NO IT'S NOT!!! Besides, how do YOU know, you don't even KNOW them!! I bet if you placed a child for adoption you might take a couple of years to get your feelings in order also.

Funny how the little things sting with language. Some birthmothers prefer first mother, some natural mother. I for one, dispise the "natural mother" term. I would love for everyone to just be called Mother but it takes a lot to get to that place for aparents (and I will admit some days it stings). I actually don't think I could have gotten to that place had we had contact with his bfamily since he was tiny. Sometimes it takes people dissappearing from our lives to realize how important they are. Not that I think I'm not "enough" for my son...but I just WANT that for him (and for us).

Okay...obviously I have too much time on my hands at work. :P

Natalie

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I have been reading on another forum the past few days - don't be shocked :lol: But I wanted to pass on a term that I found to my liking. ON that board they refer to preganent woman as EMOM's or expentant mom OR Efamilies, again expentant families before they give birth. That reserves the term birth mother for a woman who has been thru the relishuishment process. Does that make sense? What do you think?

I know many of us struggle with what to call people but I thout emom was kinder that potential birthmom

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Heidi thank you for sharing your find. I really like emom it is much kinder.

Char

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Heidi -

I like those terms - EMOM's and EFamilies - seems very respectful.

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I am bumping this up - since this is my personal pet peive with adoption forums in general.

A woman who is carrying a child and thinking about making an adoption plan and placement is not a birthmom until after placement. PIW's should be respectful with their language - these women are not anyone's birthmom during the match process. I love how creative people have been recently with their language and encourage others to find other ways to refer to these ladies beside calling them our "birthmom". PLEASE this is not meant to hurt anyone's feelings - but to help us all remmeber to use positive language

Stepping off my box now! :D

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I am sorry, we are guilty of doing just that. I know we are not supposed to use first names and I thought that saying "our birth mom" was kind of a special way of saying that we formed a bond with her. Not implying any kind of ownership or anything like that... or by any means, anything but positive connotations.

During orientation and in phone calls, Abrazo consistencly uses the term "birth mother" during pregnancy. This is why my husband and I have been using the term.

If using the term birthmom is offensive we would be willing to use emom instead. But it really seems like semantics to me... the underlying intention is positive and loving.

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Oh, and after placement and during his upbringing, to me it seems natural to refer to his birth mother as his "first mom." We hope to continue the relationship with her and want to find an inclusive term for when he thinks of her and refers to her. Birth mom seems like kind of an awkward term for a child to use (?)

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Very good point Heidi!

I have found myself guilty at times...to this day. They are Emma Claire's birthparents not mine and it sometimes is hard to seperate that fact out. So, while I might use the phrase "our birthparents", I should be saying Emma Claire's birthparents. Some time ago a lot of people started using the first initial of their childrens' birthparents, I like that a lot. I think by doing that, it respects their privacy as well.

It is a learning process, that is for sure! We have been on the forum for a few years now and I am still learning things!

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During orientation and in phone calls, Abrazo consistencly uses the term "birth mother" during pregnancy.

Guilty as charged... I appreciate Heidi's reminder, because the more progressive members of the adoption community have really taken issue with the concept of calling an expectant parent whose contemplating placement a "birthparent" before any adoption occurs; they feel it's coercive, and I can see why they find it offensive, if using that term is intended to keep expectant moms "in their place" and influence their decision before their baby arrives.

On the other hand, as we've discussed HERE previously, I personally believe that "parent" should be a title earned by those who do it, and to some extent, it is a confounding matter of semantics-- while the more militant members of the adoption community irreverently refer to prospective parents as "adopters" they certainly would call foul any reference to prospective birthparents as "birthers" or "placers."

But how we refer to anything shapes our definition of it, and that of those around us, so this is a very important issue, however arbitrary it may seem.

I know some expectant moms who find comfort in being able to identify themselves as "birthmothers" prior to placing, because it relieves them of some of the emotional weight of the motherhood mystique. (And if a woman who's placed before makes subsequent placement plans for another child down the road, is she still a birthmom, or just a "former birthmom now expectant"?)

Sometime ago, I made a reference on the Forum to a "former birthmother" and raised the ire of a Forum member who previously placed and told me that a birthmom is always that and never "former."

I have a personal issue with the labelling of those who have adopted as "adoptive parents" after the fact (although I, too, am guilty of this!), just as I flinch at the term "adoptees", as if what once happened to a baby on one day of his/her life forever marks them, objectifying them for eternity.

Yet, as human beings, we make sense of our relationships by terms that identify who's who to us, so it stands to reason that we need some labels to qualify our relations with those within our family circle. For prospective adoptive parents to refer to an expectant mother as "our birthmom" (when she will only ever truly be "my birthmom" to the child that she births) strikes me as an endearment-- the claiming of someone as a relative, of sorts.

The urban community has taken on the terms "babymama" and "babydaddy" as a means of sorting out who's who in reproductive relationships not recognized by law... it amuses me, somewhat, because one would intuitively shorten that to "bmom" or "bdad" and that's not really all that far off from some of the wording we've fallen into, in adoption, is it?

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But how we refer to anything shapes our definition of it, and that of those around us, so this is a very important issue, however arbitrary it may seem.

Yet, as human beings, we make sense of our relationships by terms that identify who's who to us, so it stands to reason that we need some labels to qualify our relations with those within our family circle. For prospective adoptive parents to refer to an expectant mother as "our birthmom" (when she will only ever truly be "my birthmom" to the child that she births) strikes me as an endearment-- the claiming of someone as a relative, of sorts.

Elizabeth -

I disagree ..respectfully of course. I do think that every single person on the forum that has refered to the woman they have been matched with as "our birthmother" has their heart in the very best place- and are searching for ways to express this new and developing realtionship. I think claiming them as "our birthmom" is presuming alot and struggle with better "labels". I think the forum family understands the endearment part behind the phrase but not everyone is part of the family - <_<

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I love that our friendship is authentic enough to disagree, Heidi, and I thank you for your candor.

I think the forum family understands the endearment part behind the phrase but not everyone is part of the family.

Knowing you as I do, I think what you're saying here isn't that you don't believe birthparents don't have a right to belong to the family system into which their child is adopted... but that unfortunately, many people who are all too quick to "claim" an expectant woman as "our birthmother" prior to the birth are shamefully unwilling to continue genuinely embracing her as family once she's signed her child over to them... is that right?

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....I personally believe that "parent" should be a title earned by those who do it, and to some extent, it is a confounding matter of semantics--......

Yet, as human beings, we make sense of our relationships by terms that identify who's who to us

Elizabeth, I appreciate the point of view you expressed on this topic and I agree with many of the points you have raised especially when looking at labels that are placed upon all persons involved in adoption ). Semantics do certainly come into play IMO.

For me, there is a difference when using the term Mom versus Mother. To others there may not be much difference.

I think it is great that people keep open minds when discussing these issues and that we continue to reflect as to how to best present our meanings while giving those we speak of, all the respect they deserve.

I appreciate Heidi lifting this particular topic as I know in many instances, my 'adoption language' has changed (for the better) in regards to our adoption journey and adoptions in general. It amazes me how a simple rephrasing of a sentence can have a big impact on how others interpret a statement. Thanks Heidi for keeping us thinking :)

-Adam

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Hold on everyone, I have found the solution. It came to me whilst typing a PM to Heidi, with whom I have been holding a lively discussion :)

How about this:

Dear Woman Who Chose Us To Match With But Will Not Be A Birth Mother Until She Gives Birth, And Will Not Be Our Son's Birth Mother Until We Take Placement

or DWWCUTMWBWNBABMUSGBAWNBOSBMUWTP for short.

(okay, I'll go put on my helmet now)

:P

Linda

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Hold on everyone, I have found the solution. It came to me whilst typing a PM to Heidi, with whom I have been holding a lively discussion :)

How about this:

Dear Woman Who Chose Us To Match With But Will Not Be A Birth Mother Until She Gives Birth, And Will Not Be Our Son's Birth Mother Until We Take Placement

or DWWCUTMWBWNBABMUSGBAWNBOSBMUWTP for short.

(okay, I'll go put on my helmet now)

:P

Linda

DWWCUTMWBWNBABMUSGBAWNBOSBMUWTP it is!

:lol:

Thanks for that oh brave woman! Good laugh :)

-A

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I must say I fully agree with Heidi on this one...respectfully also. :P Although I never thought about it until someone corrected me a while back on it...so yes guilty here also!

To me, claiming a birthmother OR expectant parent at any point of the relationship makes me flinch. To me when you "claim" someone you (without even knowing) automatically puts yourself "above" them...like you "own" them. Or they "owe" you something. At least...to me this is how I would take it as a birthmother. Also...I believe that while some birthmother's wear that badge with honor (as they should), it is because they are that CHILD'S birthmother. So in a way, you are taking away some of that by claiming she is "our" birthmother. I hope this is making sense. I know if Christopher's birthmom said "my adoptive parents"...well...that would just be awkward to me, and it most certainly would if she said "my parents". But by saying "My son's adoptive parents" (or just parents even, though I do believe sometimes labels are needed to clarify) to me that respects my place even more, and puts us at an equal playing field. I guess "our birthmom" makes her sound like...well...sort of a puppy or something to me! LOL

I understand some people do it as a term of endearment, and as a way to welcome them as not only thier child's birthmother, but part of the family. I would say to talk to your child's birthparents about this. If they love it, go with it!

I think by saying "M - my child's birthmother - and our friend & family" is better...albiet longer. LOL I actually would rather say her name more than anything, because she is so much more than just his birthmother to us, or even his first mother (even though I belive these are badges of honor) because she didn't just do one act in his life. She is and always will be his mother that placed yet is continuing to put her child first by remaining in his life & becoming a part of this beautiful open adoption relationship, even though it can hurt at times. Of course...that is WAY too long to post with. Maybe I can put Christopher's MTPYICTPHCFBRIHLNBAPOTBOARETICHAT to shorten it. Hahahaha!

I especially love the term birthmommy, especially when the kids are young. Just my opinion of course, but Mommy is so much more endearing that Mom or "mother".

I also think it's vitally important to watch your language before the mother has made the decision to place. When you are in a fragile or stressful state, every word can sting. When I am stressed out, or beginning a new relationship, I hold on to a person's every word. I think by not referring to them as a birthmom yet, and by reiterating to them that they are EXPECTING, you are telling them that you respect the fact that this decision hasn't been made yet, and allowing them to enjoy that time. You aren't second guessing them, or thier choices up to this point, you are just giving them that special time with that baby.. Of course, this is all my opinion & I know not every person or expectant mom feels the same.

I know I am careful with wording even now after placement. When I talk to M, I don't tell her "my son" this and "my son" that. I say "our son" if I do (which she loves)...or I call him by name. When I talk about his features he is getting, or things he is doing, I ask her if A (Chris' sister) ever did that, or if she has this or that feature. I'm not saying I think this would devastate her if I said "my son" or if I didn't do it...or that I don't take ownership that he is my child. I just know that sometimes we can go a little farther to help include them even just by our words, especially at the beginning when they are having to learn to trust us & what we said before placement.

Hold on everyone, I have found the solution. It came to me whilst typing a PM to Heidi, with whom I have been holding a lively discussion :)

How about this:

Dear Woman Who Chose Us To Match With But Will Not Be A Birth Mother Until She Gives Birth, And Will Not Be Our Son's Birth Mother Until We Take Placement

or DWWCUTMWBWNBABMUSGBAWNBOSBMUWTP for short.

(okay, I'll go put on my helmet now)

:P

Linda

LOL - okay so I was typing as you posted!! Ha!

Although I think the word Mother (instead of Birth Mother)...that would shorten it too! So I would say:

Dear Woman Who Chose Us To Match With But Will Not Be A Mother Until She Gives Birth, And Will Not Be Our Son's Birth Mother Until We Take Placement

or DWWCUTMWBWNBAMUSGBAWNBOSBMUWTP for short.

Okay there. Perfect!

LOL

You see? You can't make ANYONE happy!!! :PB)

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Hold on everyone, I have found the solution. It came to me whilst typing a PM to Heidi, with whom I have been holding a lively discussion :)

How about this:

Dear Woman Who Chose Us To Match With But Will Not Be A Birth Mother Until She Gives Birth, And Will Not Be Our Son's Birth Mother Until We Take Placement

or DWWCUTMWBWNBABMUSGBAWNBOSBMUWTP for short.

(okay, I'll go put on my helmet now)

:P

Linda

No helmet need - but I would like to amend the phrase-

Dear Woman Who Chose Us To Match With But Will Not Be A Birth Mother Until She Gives Birth, And Will Not Be Our Son's Birth Mother Until she graciously signs the required paperwork that will therefore create a family that will honor her always

Much better :rolleyes:

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I love that our friendship is authentic enough to disagree, Heidi, and I thank you for your candor.

I think the forum family understands the endearment part behind the phrase but not everyone is part of the family.

Knowing you as I do, I think what you're saying here isn't that you don't believe birthparents don't have a right to belong to the family system into which their child is adopted... but that unfortunately, many people who are all too quick to "claim" an expectant woman as "our birthmother" prior to the birth are shamefully unwilling to continue genuinely embracing her as family once she's signed her child over to them... is that right?

That is exactly what I am trying to say- I think matching is like a blind date - if it that goes REALLY well - you might know in your heart that this person will be forever a member of your family - but you don't dare "claim" them as "ours" until you walk the walk. Does that make sense? I can't imagine a woman who is making an adoption plan calling me "her adoptive mom". Latonya always refered to me at the lady she choose to be Gabe's mommie - and I loved that.

Thanks Adam for the shout out - I was not the brightest bulb when it game to adoption and adoption language - I have learned a ton - and gotten my butt kicked a few times around here. I have listen to everything people have said and tried to figure out how I can do better for my boys and for all members of my personal triad. I am just trying to walk the talk...ya know? ;)

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I know if Christopher's birthmom said "my adoptive parents"...well...that would just be awkward to me, and it most certainly would if she said "my parents". But by saying "My son's adoptive parents" (or just parents even, though I do believe sometimes labels are needed to clarify) to me that respects my place even more, and puts us at an equal playing field. I guess "our birthmom" makes her sound like...well...sort of a puppy or something to me! LOL

Oh, but they do. I have heard it on many occasions sitting in birthparent support group. The "girls" will be talking about their chosen families and say "my adoptive parents..." They of course don't mean it literally, but they do feel a sense of ownership. They show off your profiles/pictures to each other so everyone in the group can get to know you as well. I have also heard on many occasions the girls debating over who's adoptive parents are the best, i.e. "I have the best adoptive parents," "No, my adoptive parents are the best parents!" I find this type of conversation quite endearing, not awkward.

Also, isn't calling a woman a birthparent before she places essentially the same thing as calling parents who adopted, adoptive parents after the adoption is finalized? Would this not be just as offensive???

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Dear Woman Who Chose Us To Match With But Will Not Be A Birth Mother Until She Gives Birth, And Will Not Be Our Son's Birth Mother Until she graciously signs the required paperwork that will therefore create a family that will honor her always

Much better :rolleyes:

And honor her we will. I am going to gracefully exit this vocabulary session now. Thanks Heidi for putting up with me :)

Linda

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Oh, but they do. I have heard it on many occasions sitting in birthparent support group. The "girls" will be talking about their chosen families and say "my adoptive parents..." They of course don't mean it literally, but they do feel a sense of ownership. They show off your profiles/pictures to each other so everyone in the group can get to know you as well. I have also heard on many occasions the girls debating over who's adoptive parents are the best, i.e. "I have the best adoptive parents," "No, my adoptive parents are the best parents!" I find this type of conversation quite endearing, not awkward.

Also, isn't calling a woman a birthparent before she places essentially the same thing as calling parents who adopted, adoptive parents after the adoption is finalized? Would this not be just as offensive???

Aww that is too sweet!!! I love seeing that picture of all of them talking.

I can see how it is a term of endearment, I just think (if you do choose to use this) it takes some getting to (as Heidi previously posted), and I just find it a little inappropriate to use before placement, when they are not even a birthparent yet, much less YOUR birthmom. Of course, not every situation is the same either!

Also, I don't think it is nearly offensive when speaking of adoptive parents because of the obvious difference..plus the expectant parent hasn't made thier decision FOR SURE, as most potential adoptive parents have. Plus you are talking about a difficult loss, and a very hard decision...versus for the adoptive parents a happy decision, based mostly on gain...

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Also, isn't calling a woman a birthparent before she places essentially the same thing as calling parents who adopted, adoptive parents after the adoption is finalized? Would this not be just as offensive???

You know, I really have no opinion about this. I have experienced with Teresa, she doesn't like BP - so we call her sister and Tyler calls her now Madre or Teresa. I don't think she liked the Title ever so we never use/used it with her - but she does understand that she is the Birth Mom.

Now Adoptive Parents - seems to not be offensive, because I do live that, and it isn't or wasn't offensive and maybe it is because we were on the receiving side of the greatest gift in the world. The Title has a better public acceptance.

But, I do see your point - Birth Mom is after placement, before placement, she should be titled the Mother, because this is what she really is and really society looks at the pregnant lady as the mother.

Interesting, do you think it is our EGOs - that doesn't like to call the BP - Mother for fear of a potential loss in match. Just remembering Tyler, if there was a way we could have done anything to allow Teresa the opportunity to keep him we would have. It was the most difficult experience in our life, one that she deserved/deserves the title of Mother. Really, I don't think I learned that until the week before and after placement.

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