As a birthmother and the friend of many birthmothers, I frequently hear comments and questions that make me cringe. These comments are often made by random strangers, friends, colleagues, and so on. They are made about birthmothers and directly to birthmothers regarding their status as a birthmother, their (placed) child, or adoption in general.
I think, for the most part, people are good hearted and don’t intentionally mean to be hurtful. Honestly, people probably don’t know what to say, so they just say something.
Let’s take a look at five of the most common statements or questions and talk about why they are painful.
“I could never do that.” This is probably the most common remark birthmothers hear when sharing the fact that they placed a child for adoption. Typically, I don’t think this statement is made to be hurtful, but it does sting many birthmothers. Those little five words make me feel so judged. I feel like the speaker is probably thinking something such as, “How COULD she do that? Give her child away like that?”
“Didn’t you want him/her?” A birthmother doesn’t place her child for adoption because she doesn’t want him/her. I can assure you, all the birthmothers I know wanted their children. Just because they weren’t prepared at that moment with the resources and support needed to raise a child, doesn’t mean that child is unwanted or unloved.
“It’s been a year. It’s time to move on now.” When I made the decision to place my son for adoption, I lost the privilege of being his everyday mother. There is a lifetime sentence of grief for birthmothers. Though we all move forward with life, we never simply move on. Our children are always a part of us. We will always have hard days, especially our child’s birthday, Mother’s Day, and other holidays and significant dates throughout the year.
“You can always have more children.” While this is meant to be comforting, it’s not reassuring in the least. No child can substitute for another. Telling a birthmother she can have more children implies that her placed child is replaceable. Also, there are birthmothers who end up unable to have more children due to secondary infertility and other issues.
“What are you going to do with future children?” I’m not sure why people think that if you place one child for adoption, you’re going to place all of them for adoption, but some believe this. Countless birthmothers have heard this question during subsequent pregnancies. There are a few birthmothers I know who have placed more than one child for adoption because of dire circumstances. But most birthmothers will do just about anything to keep from going through the heartache and trauma associated with placing a child for adoption more than once.