What to Say to a Birth Mother (not a top ten list)

Yesterday, I wrote a list of things I wish people would stop saying to birthmothers.  So, the logical question is: What should people say to birthmothers?  

As a general rule, people really should refrain from saying much of anything.  That’s not to say that close family and friends should sweep the adoption under the rug, but as a person who honestly cares about the mother, listening instead of speaking is the best thing you could offer.  Here are some things I wish people would say more of to first mothers:


 Nothing can replace your child, I am so sorry you are going through this.

 It must be difficult to not be able to express the love you feel for your child.

Is there anything I can do to help you move forward? What do you need from me?

 It is heart wrenching that you were put in that position.

You don’t always need to be strong, I am here for support.

 How are you feeling about the adoption?  

I can’t offer anything to take away your pain, but I can offer you a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen.

I am really struggling with sadness today over the loss of your child, can we talk about it?  (This would be a welcome statement from any of my immediate family)


Most people close to me feel like they can not bring up the adoption, for fear of reopening an old hurt.  The truth is that the hurt is both old and new.  The truth is that NOT talking about it does not help.  




  1. Jackie

    It reminds me of how people are afraid to mention suicide or discuss a person’s suicide plan for fear of triggering them. Like suicide if your suicidal, the loss of a child seems like something that would always be on your mind. Someone bringing it up isn’t going to make you suddenly realize you lost a kid and are sad about it.

    • leenilee

      Absolutely, Jackie. I think it is probably the same with any other traumatic experience in life. If someone has cancer, you give them an ear to listen. You don’t offer up cliches and platitudes to ease their pain.

  2. Amy

    These are very good. I’ve never actually met a birth mother…not yet…that I know of…or at least not one who has shared that part of them with me. I would like to think I I would be more sensitive with my words because I’m an adoptee. Everyone is different. So it’s best to know the person well before even going into this territory of discussion. Even then, I know it is always complex.

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