I have had the opportunity to share my story on some very public platforms lately. The recurring theme in the comments is "thank you for choosing life". This sentiment makes me cringe for many reasons. This is not something that we tell all pregnant women, so why is it such a popular thing to tell a birth mother? Here are a few reasons why you should never thank a birth mother for "choosing life".
- You don't know what her thought process was. I have talked to birth mothers who did choose abortion, but for whatever reason (it was too late, there wasn't a provider nearby, etc) she could not get one. In this instance your words could cause her to feel ashamed or guilty, even if that is not your intent.
- When you thank someone you are expressing gratitude for something they did, usually something that has affected you personally. My decision to continue my pregnancy and choose adoption had nothing to do with other people, and everything to do with my child and I. It makes me uncomfortable when someone thanks me for my decision. The same goes for strangers telling me that they are proud of me. It is uncomfortable if someone you have never talked to tells you that they are proud of you or thanks you for something that had no effect on their life.
- You are telling my son that he must also be thankful. You are telling him that his life was in danger. This is where the "grateful" adoptee mentality starts. My son does NOT have to be grateful that I did not have an abortion. I don't ever want him to feel as though he needs to thank me, I would prefer that he never had to think about it at all. People who have not been adopted never have to think about the fact that their parents did not choose abortion. I have never thanked my mother for choosing to carry her pregnancy, and my son never has to thank me either.
Even if you have the best intentions, think twice before thanking a birth mother for "choosing life". Say something more like "I really enjoyed your story, thank you for sharing!"