Thursday, December 8, 2016

To My Fellow (Birth) Mamas,

Can we chat? I've noticed a trend within the adoption community, specifically those of us in newer (10 years and under) adoptions. I'm not sure who first came up with the idea to use the term "birth child" when talking about your child placed for adoption, but I think we all need to agree to stop the usage of it.

Why is this such a big deal? It's just adding an extra word, right?

Well, it's offensive to many adoptees. I'm sure that you can find a few out there who are fine with it, but for the most part it's harmful. It's used to separate the adopted child from any other "real" children you may have in the future, or already have. Here are some comments I received after asking what my adoptee friends thought of it on both FB and Twitter.

"Never heard that before... Ummm I don't care for it at first glance." - HR

"I would find it offensive. Like having a qualifier to show that I'm less." - HB

"I think that would make me feel awful. My mother has never called me that, thankfully. Her sisters call me 'the lost baby.' "- R

" But now that I know she gave up two of us, I wonder what they call my brother. Not rational, but it really plagues me." - R

"Mine said relinquishing me was the 'best decision I ever made'. Broke my heart. No one wants to hear that." - M

"Disgusted... I am my mother's child. She will always be my mom.  Hate those b terms invented by the agencies for coercion." - J

"I am my mother's CHILD - it's a fact- whether or not she raised me. If she'd died, no one would call me her "birth child" " - M

"Hmmm that's a tricky one. I've never been fond of 'birth child'  regardless of who uses it because it can sometimes come off dismissive, or an excuse, or a backhanded insult but it's contextual.
I wouldn't be insulted or annoyed but it almost makes me feel small. Like that's all I am. Genetics only. Even if my birth parent was trying to be respectful.
However it is important to note that my birth parents have never referred to me as daughter or birth daughter. So that's how I imagine I would feel. My [adoptive] mom would say 'well she's not my birth daughter' and I didn't like that." - C

"I think if my birth mother were to use the term birth child when describing me, I would be a little put off by it... but my circumstance is unique in that I was her daughter (in that she was parenting me) until I was 4. If my children's first mom referred to my sons as her birth sons, it would make me sad for them. I feel like it takes the emotion out of that relationship.... which I guess some people need to do to cope with that loss, but it seems impersonal."  - JH

"I'm an adoptee. My (first) mother is in her 60s; I was raised with 'natural mother' (the doctor) or 'biological mother' (my AP's).
I just call her my mother.
If she ever referred to me as her birth child, I'd be shocked and a little taken aback." - A

"I guess another scenario of that would be if my biological mom was talking about me to someone in the presence of her son that she is currently parenting to differentiate between him and I...  I still think I would prefer her to call me 'My daughter that has been adopted' " - JH

" ... oh it sucks big ones. Birth child. Object to be born and handed off to strangers." - A

"I feel like it's kind of redundant and awkward. I don't think I would be offended if my birth mom called me that. At this point, I would be satisfied to be acknowledged." - P

So, do we ignore adoptees? Do we continue to use language that hurts them and makes them feel less than? Do we let adoption agencies tell us that the cutesy and "nice" language is helpful, while silencing those who are affected most? I know that I won't, and I'm asking you to take a stand against the terminology too. If adoption is supposed to be about doing the "best" for our children, we should make sure that we are continuously learning and getting better.