There are many stereotypes, myths, and misconceptions out there about birthmothers and expectant mothers considering adoption. This is due, at least in part, to the portrayal of birthmothers in movies (such as Juno), books (like Girls in Trouble by Caroline Leavitt) , and television shows (Glee and several soap operas over the years). These stereotypes of birthmothers often negatively affect the general public and even some within the adoption community. And because birthmothers were forced or shamed into silence for so long, there are many misconceptions regarding them as well. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common stereotypes, myths, and misconceptions concerning birthmothers and women making adoption plans.
• All birthmothers are teenagers. I think this stereotype began as a result of the Baby Scoop Era when unwed birthmothers were often forced into hiding at maternity homes or an aunt’s house states away, then forced by their parents to give up their babies for adoption. Today, things have really changed. Many expectant mothers are in their early twenties or older and often already have a child they are parenting.
• Birthmothers don’t love or want their children. It’s important to remember that an unplanned pregnancy doesn’t necessarily equal an unwanted pregnancy. Just as a married couple facing an unplanned pregnancy can welcome and embrace their child, an expectant mother considering adoption can also love and want the best for her baby too.
• After placing her child for adoption, a birthmother will “move on” and forget about her child. This is completely false! Even those Baby Scoop Era birthmoms still thought of their children often. I assure you that, although he is not with me, I think of my (placed) son every single day. Certain days, like his birthday, Mother’s Day, and other holidays are harder than less special ones.
• If a birthmother hadn’t made an adoption plan, she would have aborted her child. Most of the birthmothers I know and counsel didn’t even seriously consider abortion. For most birthmothers, abortion is a reproductive choice while adoption is a parenting choice. If we hadn’t placed our children, we would have parented them.
• Birthmothers would have been bad mothers. Most of the birthmothers I know, myself included, would have been excellent mothers to our placed children had we only had the necessary resources and/or support. I didn’t place my child because I thought I would be a bad mother. I placed my child because I felt I couldn’t give me son everything he deserved at that time in my life.
• Birthmothers place their children for adoption because it is the easy way out. Adoption is not an easy option or an easy way out. There is a lifetime of pain associated with adoption for a birthmother. There is nothing easy about dealing with that type of grief and pain on a daily basis.