Adoptimist Adoption Blog
February 4, 2016

A Birthmother: Who is She? Why Does She Choose Adoption?

As a hopeful adoptive parent, a mother considering adoption, or even someone who is just curious, you may be wondering who is a birthmother? How old is she? What is she like? Do we have anything in common? 

The media often portrays birthmothers in a negative light. Society has sometimes viewed birthmothers as women who “gave away their children.” Movies like Juno, storylines in soap operas, and television programs like Glee often paint birthmothers as a stereotypical teen mother. But often that is far from the truth.

And just to clarify, when referring to a birthmother I’m talking about a woman who has already placed her child for adoption. An expectant mother considering adoption is not a birthmother until she signs relinquishment papers terminating her parental rights.

Perhaps in previous generations, such as the Baby Scoop Era, a birthmother placed her child for adoption around a certain age, during her teens. But nowadays that is far from the truth. 

Birthmothers who are placing their children for adoption today do not fit into a cookie-cutter idea of a birthmother. Today’s birthmothers come from all walks of life, different backgrounds, and are all different ages. They choose adoption for a multitude of reasons.

Today’s birthmother may be a teen, in her 20’s, 30’s, or even her 40’s. She is married, divorced, in a steady relationship, or single. She has a high school diploma, a college education, children, or a successful career. She may have been adopted, raised by two parents, or she may be a single mom. She has sisters, brothers, she’s an only child. The child she placed for adoption could be her first, second, third, fourth, or even her last. She may have chosen an open, semi-open, or even closed adoption- though most birthmothers today typically choose some form of open adoption. 

She could be anyone: your sister, classmate, mother, daughter, neighbor, colleague, your best friend. 

My point is that anyone could be a birthmother. She doesn’t fit into a stereotypical mold. I think the most important thing you should know about today’s birthmother is that she loves her child unconditionally. The motherly love she feels for her child didn’t fade away when she placed her child for adoption and became a birthmother.  

About The Author

Coley Strickland

Nicole “Coley” Strickland has become a strong voice for expectant mothers and birthmothers. At the age of 25, she became a birthmother, lovingly placing her three-day-old baby boy into an open adoption and the arms of his adoptive parents. She and fellow birthmother Leilani Wood went on to found BirthMom Buds, a website and nonprofit organization that provides support to birthmothers.

Coley has further given a voice to the bittersweet turmoil of birthmothers, becoming an active member of the adoption community, writing, speaking and sharing her story with others. In addition to her numerous blogs, she has also been featured on a number of radio programs, magazine and newspaper articles, as well as in the books: How to Create a Successful Adoption Portfolio by Madeleine Melcher and A Personal Touch on Adoption by Peter Berlin. In addition to her many other roles, Coley has been blessed to parent her special needs son Noah, who along with the son she placed, is the love of her life.

Visit Coley's site at
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About This Adoption Blog

The Adoptimist blog features advice, tips, and inspiration for adoptive parents who are actively pursuing adoption connections online.

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