10 Things I Wish People Would Stop Saying To Birth Mothers

1. You have given the adoptive parents such a gift.

A human being is not a gift to be given, period.

2. You can always have more children.

Human beings are not interchangeable.  Even if I go on to have more children, they will never replace my child that was given away for adoption.  If you wouldn’t say this to a mother who lost their child to death, don’t say it to a mother who relinquished their child.  

Also, this statement may not be true.  Secondary infertility is a known issue in birthmothers.  

3. Your child will always know how much you loved them.

There is no way to know how an adoptee will feel about their relinquishment.  Some feel that adoption was great, some do not.  Some harbor righteous anger against their birth mothers, some do not.  Some live with pain and anxiety their whole lives.  There is a higher risk of suicide among adoptees.  There is no way of knowing how an adoptee will handle their adoption status.  

4. Time heals all wounds.

Maybe it does for some.  For me, it has not.  For many, it has not.  The grief I experience today is different than the grief I experienced when I first relinquished, but it has never left me.  The wound is more like a festering sore that opens and closes without provocation.  It will never heal. Again, if you wouldn’t say something like this to a parent who has lost a child to death, don’t say it to a first mother.

5.  Take solace in knowing your child has been given a better life.

Adoption can never promise a child will have a better life, only a different one.  Although this statement probably represents the main reason most women give their child up for adoption, it just is not true.  The only person who can promise to give their child the best life is their biological parents.  Once the adoption is finalized, the life is out of their hands.

6. Everything happens for a reason.

Okay, but maybe it is a piss poor reason.  There is no reason that I would be comfortable with that would explain why my child had to be given away to strangers.  

7. Thank you for choosing adoption over abortion.

This has been covered many times, but again, the choice is not between abortion and adoption.  Don’t assume that a I am pro-life just because I gave my child up for adoption.

8. You are so strong, I could never give my child up for adoption.

So wait, am I a better person than you or a worse person because I just can not tell what you are thinking here.

9. You need to move on with your life.

Please do not give me a timeline to grieve.  Moving forward is inevitable, but moving on…well that’s tricky.  I have not moved on, I probably never will move on.  I think what you really mean is that you are uncomfortable hearing about my grief and do not want to talk about it any longer.  

10. Your child’s birthday must be so hard for you.

Hmmmmm, yes it is, but guess what?  So is every single other day since the adoption.  Some are harder than others.  I’m sure it makes you feel more comfortable to believe that I only think about my son on that one day a year, but that is not an accurate representation of my grief.  

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8 comments

    • leenilee

      Generally people say these things to make themselves feel better, not the mother.

      People simply can not understand how a mother could give away their child and tend to use cliches and platitudes to make the unnatural seem natural.

      What they fail to realize is that we are not some superhuman entity. We are flesh and bone, just like them. That makes people uncomfortable.

      • everyoneactdead

        I know. What I love too is that everyone in my life assumes things about me (with regards to my child and the adoption) without finding out from me first. Like i overheard my mother telling her brother on the phone that i am letting go and healing!!! I guess it’s easier to swallow some shit you made up in your head than to ask and get an answer you are uncomfortable with.

      • leenilee

        So absolutely true. Most of my family gets all weird if I bring it up (which I don’t do very often) or assumes that I’m “over it” (whatever that means).

  1. Amy

    I truly feel that most people mean well when they say such things. So often it’s something so foreign to them….and they simply can’t relate…which causes a distortion in messages. I also feel often times people are overly sensitive for whatever reason. So to say, things you should never say…well, I love the post, but everyone is different….and what can be helpful to one is hurtful to another. I do think much has to do with who the comment is coming from and exactly the conversation in progress. People speak before they think…sure…we all do it…but instead of getting defensive or upset, I feel it’s good to use it as an opportunity to enlighten the other person….help them to see (in the nicest way possible) why maybe the comment was not the most ideal. 🙂

  2. rhegankim82

    Thanks for sharing these thoughts. As an adoptee I often wonder if I’m thought about, if the decision was regretted, if I should persue a search. It’s nice to hear a perspective from your side of the story.

  3. Silverwynde

    I know this is way late, but I just found your blog and number nine hit me in the gut.

    My mother was one of the “girls who went away” and was forced to give up her firstborn son at 17. She didn’t tell me about this until 2010. When I was told the truth, I had a hard time processing the information. Even now, I still do. Now, at the time, I had a blog on Blogger and explored some of my grief and anger through my postings; I dealt with the ups and downs, the survivor’s guilt, the feeling of depression and betrayal. For a while it helped.

    Enter my former best friend from high school. That’s when it all when to hell.

    After I made a post on the passing of Bob Hoskins back in 2014, she decided to make a post on her blog about what she had read on mine. In it, she claimed that I was “whining”, as this had happened before I was born and “never affected” me. Oh and the decision(!) to do this wasn’t easy: after all, she had given her ex-husband fell custody of her daughter, so she knew how painful this was.

    Yeah, she has visitation rights. She can see her daughter whenever she likes. My mother had no such option at all.

    I was livid and for the past year, I haven’t been on Blogger all that much. I’ve pretty much abandoned my very first blog because I can’t deal with this woman anymore. She won’t let me grieve and worse, tries to whitewash any pain that I ever felt. It’s maddening. But she’s the main reason I hopped over here to WordPress in the first place. (And if she finds my new blog, I’m immediately banning her from it. I don’t need the drama.)

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