Language is important. It shapes how we view the world. Pro-lifers, for example, use the word MURDER a lot when talking about abortion while pro-choicers use TERMINATION or ABORTION. Both groups are talking about the same thing, but the words they use help shape their argument. Their words help persuade others to see things their way.
Over at Birth Mother, First Forum, Loraine Dusky has a great article about the adoption language issue. She writes so eloquently, it is a must read.
Positive Adoption Language: Who Does it Benefit?
“Postitive Adoption Language” helps persuade expecting mothers into giving up their children and I flat out refuse to participate in the industry’s silly reindeer games anymore. The worst phrase is the (insert happy fairytale music here) “adoption plan.” Holy crap, did you just see that rainbow?
Oh silly expecting mother, you are not giving your child away, you are making a plan. Uh say wha? Let’s call a spade a spade. You are giving your baby to virtual strangers to raise and care for. You may be involved in the choosing of who the strangers are going to be. You may choose what agency you will use. Yes, there are many ways to plan to give your child away but it still is giving them away.
The phrase “adoption plan” also conveys that the mother is in control. She is making a choice, a loving one in fact (there’s that pesky rainbow again), and has planned accordingly. She is not leaving the baby in a dumpster. What really kills me about “making an adoption plan” is that this involves the nauseating process of matching with prospective adopters. Meeting the would-be adopters and involving them in her adoption plan is a huge conflict of interest for her and constitutes coercion. I would say that the adopters and agency are making the adoption plan for her unborn baby, not the mother. It’s all smoke and mirrors. Choosing to use the phrase adoption plan makes it seem like the mother is an informed decision maker. Like she is making a plan and has considered and rejected all the ways she could keep her baby. Sure, that is true in some cases, but not all. It’s malarkey, a mother is choosing to give away her baby, plain and simple. It is what it is. Making a plan does not make it different.
Just once I would like to see a parenting plan offered a mother considering adoption. A REAL ONE. Oh but wait! There is a term for a mother choosing a parenting plan, it’s called a failed adoption or a failed match. Holy shitting christ on a cracker, what the fuck is that? I’ll tell you what that is. It’s “positive adoption language.” Actually, saying a mother is keeping her baby is more accurate. She didn’t flunk out of adoption school. There’s no “F” on her life report card. It’s more accurate to say the agency failed to procure a child for the would-be adopters. Or the adopters failed to coerce the mother into giving away her baby.
Birth Mother Means Mother Period
The term “birth mother” is viewed as being diminishing of our role to many of us. I actually agree with that sentiment. When I talk to people in real life, I don’t refer to myself as such, I simply say mother or my son, not my birth son. When I use it here on my blog, I am doing so because it’s less confusing for anyone reading it. I do prefer the term first mother, because I was the first mother in my son’s life. But not everyone knows what that means so I use birth mother here a lot to describe myself. I probably should stop doing that because it makes it seem like I was an incubator. But I think of myself as my son’s mother, period, that’s it. He has another mother as well, I’m not diminishing that by any means. We are both his mother in very different ways. The most truthful thing to me would be to call adoptive mothers the parent and birth mothers the mother, but I’m not sure that anyone would get on board with that.
All of the nonsensical pro adoption speak is meant to invoke a less emotional response for people when they think about adoption. The exception being when it’s the people hoping to benefit from adoption, then words like failure are thrown around. The language is meant to play down the impact of adoption for the mother. It’s meant to convey to the world around us that adoption is a wonderful thing for adopters and not all that terrible for mothers who surrender. I call bullshit. Yup, BOOLSHHEEETTT. Just like the miracle of adoption. phffft.