Evolving adoption language…

28 Aug

For the last while I’ve seen some first mom’s refer to the child they placed as their birthchild, one word.  I haven’t said anything, not my place, just hope it didn’t come about because their SW said that is how they should refer to them.  I also recognise I don’t like the use of birth in adoption terminology because it is reductive to me, so my reaction, may be over-inflated.

Today, an adoptive parent used it in a very reductive way to a first mom.  Has the adoption language evolved and I missed it?

Will a child adopted only be a birthchild to their first family?  Never just a child in their family?

Do we really need to apply another label?  Especially on the child?

Shouldn’t this move to openness and transparency be working on removing titles and labels, and accepting, that adoptees can and do have more than one family they are part of?

Please discuss, I’m listening…


Posted by on August 28, 2016 in Uncategorized


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46 responses to “Evolving adoption language…

  1. Laksh

    August 28, 2016 at 6:21 pm

    I haven’t been following adoption groups in a while but personally I refuse to label. My children are children to both families and I refer to them that way. Same as the two of us being mothers. No first/birth/original.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      August 28, 2016 at 6:23 pm

      Thanks Laksh – that’s how I was raised to.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. belleinblue

    August 28, 2016 at 6:29 pm

    My mother is my mother. My brothers and sister are my brothers and sister. My son is my son.

    We are adopted, not imbeciles. We can understand complicated relationships, we grow up in them.

    Liked by 2 people

    • TAO

      August 28, 2016 at 6:33 pm

      It seems some of the adults coming to adoption can’t grasp what they see as complicated isn’t – it’s just our norm. Missed you recently btw…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. ginny09

    August 28, 2016 at 7:29 pm

    I cant wait until the word “adoption” is abolished, only associated with past practices, and new public policies are written and passed to insure biological families are preserved. Then there would be fewer complications…


  4. L4R

    August 28, 2016 at 9:33 pm

    These reductive labels seem to be defense mechanisms. Probably with some territoriality thrown in for good measure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      August 28, 2016 at 9:48 pm

      I get the defense mechanism, it’s pretty understandable, just wish I could fix it. The bad is that it allows for less overt put-downs…


  5. cb

    August 28, 2016 at 10:48 pm

    “For the last while I’ve seen some first mom’s refer to the child they placed as their birthchild, one word.”

    I’ve also seen some of them refer to their subsequent children that they are raising as “their own children”.

    “I haven’t said anything, not my place, just hope it didn’t come about because their SW said that is how they should refer to them.”

    I think also that some social workers also encourage those first moms to emotionally separate themselves from their child and to see their child as entirely belonging to the APs – I remember once a long time ago, a bmother considered it to be the “miracle of adoption”, that after a few years, she thought of her adopted out child the same way that she did about her neighbour’s children.

    Some adoption professionals may feel that it is more “emotionally healthy” for a bmom to separate themselves emotionally from their child, even with today’s open adoptions. However, to me, the most emotionally healthy bmoms from any era are whose who have allowed themselves to love their adopted out child.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. eagoodlife

    August 28, 2016 at 11:55 pm

    Daniel writes – My view is that if you are an adoptee you get to decide the words you use.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Tara-Anita Brown

    August 29, 2016 at 12:10 am

    When explaining to someone for the first time that I am adopted and explaining who is who. I use the word biological referring to my biological family and adoptive for my family who adopted me. But later when they’ve become familiar with my family ‘dynamics’, I just refer to my adopted family as my mom dad my family here in Nassau and then for my biological family I say my family in Canada or use their names depending on who they know.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Cindy

    August 29, 2016 at 12:18 am

    They are attempting to completely dismiss mother and child from the language in adoption. Except of course in the family the child is raised in. We mothers have been called every dismissive term in the book, breeders, egg donors, sluts, birthing vessels, bir** mother, etc. Anything to say that we are NOT mother and child.

    They do not want another mother out there. We can’t use; real, natural, true, or just plain ole mother. NOPE. Not allowed. Birth child?! It is all a matter of completely dismissing the bond of mother and child. That’s it, nothing else. That is the intent and purpose of it. And when adoptive parents hear and see all the comments of “I know who my real parents are, they’re the ones that raised me”, that gives fuel to the fire to forge ahead with the minimizing or dismissing of any other mother. Since adoptions and records are opening they (ap’s, agencies, promoters have to find some other way to ‘stay on top’. Taking our children and raising them wasn’t or isn’t enough it seems.

    One comeback for those that use such terminology is, -Would they be plain old mother and child IF they ended up MARRIED? Or since you* have dismissed and minimized the connection down to only the time of birth, does that mean they are strangers now? NOT related? What kind of screwy kool-aid are these folks drinking?

    I so sick of their twisting of truth and reality. So weary of being forced to live trapped inside their nightmare fairy tale. They can’t murder us legally so they go about murdering us through closed records, and twisted, abusive language and mutilation of reality. That’s what the whole game is all about. This child is ours, never was yours, you just popped it out, so ha ha take that you nothings. Adoptees are and will continue to be used in this as well. It will be a very sad day if adoptees end up reduced down to being called egg and sperm, wait a minute, they already are when we mothers and fathers are referred to as only egg and sperm donors, so I guess it’s only ‘natural’ for the birth term to get plastered to the child as well.

    I laugh sometimes thinking about how when I read comments from some adoptees and a lot of adoptive parents, the language goes like this, “My/my child’s bm (yeah, that’s a nasty one. What does that make the adoptee? a little s***?), or my /our birthmother, but then the language switches back to plain ole’ father, grandparents, sister, brother…the one that got the b title was the mother, and now the offspring are being labeled as b children.

    * The terms you and yours being general.

    So many were perfectly ‘ok’ with the term bir** mother. Why not bir** child? The bir** term hurts, it doesn’t help, not the father, mother or adoptee. Who does it ‘help’? Personally I think it all needs to be stopped but hey, I’m just one of those ole b mothers.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. yan

    August 29, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    I recently had a long chat with my partner’s mother, just a lot of things about family. She asked — and I respect her for her straightforwardness — who I meant when I said “mother” or “mom.” I told her that I meant either or both. I prefer “first” and “adoptive” to clarify when I need to, but “first mother” confuses most people who aren’t directly involved in adoption. I have two mothers (and no fathers to talk about). I am sorry that my family is confusing and complicated to other people, but *I did not make it this way*.

    I think language is one way we cope. Everyone copes differently. As long as I’m allowed my way of telling my story, I try to allow others their own.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. onewomanschoice

    August 30, 2016 at 1:27 am

    I’ve used “my son” and “my birth son” (only because this is adoption lingo that most people seem to understand). In the beginning when I was telling my story, I needed to clarify so it wasn’t confusing, whether it was on the blog or in person. But especially in person because people will begin to assume that I have two sons at home and when I talk more about the activities I have been doing with my one son that I am parenting, they become concerned about my other son that I am not physically involved with because he lives 12 hours away. One time, a couple years ago, I got hammered by someone for referring to my son that was adopted as my birth son in a comment on a blog. I meant no disrespect. I am involved in his life too so I want to be sure that I am respecting our relationship. I think “step” is similar. There will be times when someone may need to clarify. But it should not be a label to define who we are all the time. I don’t go around telling people this is my biological son when talking or introducing my son that I parent. But due to his mixed race, people have “assumed” he was adopted and I have needed to clarify that I did give birth to him and he is in fact my biological son.

    I will tell you that my love for my sons is deep and we have a special bond. When we are together, there is no birth, biological, adopted or however society wants to label us.

    The way I see it, birthing and adopting or actions, not titles.


    • TAO

      August 30, 2016 at 3:45 am

      The way you speak is perfectly normal, clarify when needed. And you don’t create one word birthchild reducing the child to I haven’t figured out what yet… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Tiffany

    August 30, 2016 at 9:01 pm

    I only use the words online when trying to be clear who I am referring to (such as instead of saying, my daughter’s mom, I’ll say , sometimes, but for me, it’s mom and dad, or to be clear in grammar when I’m also speaking of myself, other mom and dad. My daughter is also their daughter. She is only my daughter who is adopted online, not in real life. My daughter who isn’t adopted is my biological daughter, again, only online when I need to be clear in these conversations. In real life, there are no qualifiers for me. Family is family is family.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tiffany

      September 2, 2016 at 6:05 pm

      Goodness, I don’t know what happened to half of my sentence up there. I had typed:

      I only use the words online when trying to be clear who I am referring to (such as instead of saying, my daughter’s mom, I’ll say her first mom mom because it’s shorter and grammatically clear) but for me, it’s mom and dad, or to be clear in grammar when I’m also speaking of myself, other mom and dad.


  12. iwishiwasadopted

    August 31, 2016 at 2:19 am

    I don’t think adoptive parents would use the word “adoptedchild”. I do not like any of the birth prefixes.
    In my non identifying info from the agency, they wrote about my birth paternal grandfather! It seemed like a lot of nonsense to me, he was my grandfather, plain and simple. But the social workers could not let it be that simple. A birth grandfather? Just as crazy as “birthchild”. Like “starchild”. Just yuck.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      August 31, 2016 at 3:19 am

      Yeah that’s weird…very…


  13. pj

    August 31, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    Mom and dad always referred to us simply as their children . Although the lawyer who did their will in the 70’s wrote us as “adopted children.” Dad recently made some changes to his will and the lawyer told him “adopted children” were now referred to as “children”. I thought…hmm, progress.


  14. beth62

    August 31, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    I heard “birthson” and “birthmom” spoken by a stepmom referring to her husband’s ex wife and son… “he’s her birthson” she’s his birthmom” while trying to clarify connections.
    Those words stood out so loudly, I confess, I didn’t really hear anything else she said!
    Got confused thinking about it, didn’t know what to say, or if anything should be said to that, too weird to me.


  15. Cindy

    September 1, 2016 at 6:29 am

    We must use the term ‘birth’ because the children must have REAL parents and they can’t have 2 sets of real parents when only one is the true, real, forever family. Yeah, like the one’s that are written in on the amended birth certificate that says -this is a TRUE certification of name and birth FACTS recorded in this office-makes them the only real parents. It ties me up in knots every time I look at my dad’s fake “birth” certificate. It’s nothing but a bold-faced lie.

    PJ’s comment. “the lawyer told him “adopted children” were now referred to as “children”. That’s great from an adoptee’s point of view. They don’t want to be viewed differently. I get that.. They want to be the real child of …somebody/a family. Until… they get called a birthchild or are not welcomed into their biological family, or reunion falls apart…should anyone be surprised? The biological family has been relegated to nothingness or next to it. i.e. only AT and FOR birth were you a parent. Only at and for birth were you parent and child. They can’t immediately do a 180 and suddenly BE something they were not at all allowed to be for the adoptee’s entire life until reunion. They are/were continually, slammed, shoved, shamed and pushed into *nothingness* by those who rule the process and the language. Somebody had to be less than. It is the mothers who surrender, in particular, who must be relegated to nothing or ‘less than’.

    The view of many ap’s, ‘If we have to endure our children meeting with the people of birth, then BIRTH parents they must be. They cannot be real or natural. And since this is OUR (real) child and only OUR child, they can only be a birth child to the birth parent. Your connection is nothing but the birth. Get it? This prevailing attitude is what adoptees’ biological parents have endured and been conditioned /forced to accept and live and speak the language of or get slammed.

    It’s because there can be no ‘real’ parents but the ones that did all the hard work and wiped butts. (Sure makes me wonder what to call all those daycare workers or nannies, etc. who had the kids for 8 to 10 hours a day.) Look at all the comments on Simone Biles about ‘who are her (REAL) parents’. What I think some would like to see, is an abolition of the word *real* referring to any family, except for adoptive families and maybe step families. ANYTHING but a biological family. Let’s throw that biological concept in the dustbin. Funny though, you can’t create a child without the biological concept. Many would also like to ban the words adopted or adoptive, they’re ‘bad’ words. Just wow.

    Does calling biological parents *birth* parents make adoptive parents *death* parents, the same way that calling biological parents *real* parents makes adoptive parents *fake* parents? (ac-cording to some)

    Don’t you see Pinnoccio, you can only be REAL in your (adoptive) real family. Sad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Von

      September 1, 2016 at 7:43 am

      When will people stop calling us adult adoptees ‘children’?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Cindy

        September 1, 2016 at 8:41 pm

        Maybe when people stop asking conversational questions like, “how many children do you have?”, or “do you have any children.”

        Maybe what’s needed is to change the language to only allow the words, son/s and daughter/s and disallow the words child, or children (no matter the age). That would take care of the infantilizing and ‘trapped in perpetual childhood’ use of the words child/children when referring to adult adoptees or (sometimes) adults in general.

        Maybe all that should be allowed is the name of the person (youth or adult) in reference, no titles, no labels at all.

        Maybe it will be when respect is across the board for ALL human beings and we’re all endowed with perfect understanding and compassion. It’s a hope. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  16. Deb

    September 1, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    I totally agree with all your comments on this topic Cindy. As a fellow b mom, I find your honesty refreshing and totally relatable. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

    • ginny09

      September 1, 2016 at 8:59 pm

      I just heard that the director of the film “loggerheads” (I never heard of it) is considering making a movie about women who lost children to adoption during the 50s-60s-70s. Anyone know of this?


    • Cindy

      September 1, 2016 at 9:16 pm

      Yikes Deb, puh-leeze, I don’t know what to feel when someone agrees with me. Anxiety attack! Meltdown! HELP! Snicker, snicker. Seriously, I don’t know how to react or respond when someone ‘agrees or relates’ to something I’ve said. It so rarely occurs that when it does I just panic and don’t reply or go into a frenzy of activity or shutdown IRL, but that is avoidance and childish so I’m going to try to grow up and reply. I don’t know what to do with a …support system(?) (what is that anyway?). But I thank you and you’re welcome. 🙂

      So sorry that you are on this road.

      Thanks too, to the moderators of this blog for allowing this b-mommy to make some uncomfortable noise.


      • Cindy

        September 2, 2016 at 5:02 am

        Hi Deb, to clarify, “Yikes, Deb, puh-leeze..” was said playfully in little kid voice. It looks awful without explanation. I’m sorry.


        • Deb

          September 2, 2016 at 5:42 pm

          I understand, and when I read your comments, I felt like I was validated for once. As time goes on, I truly feel that I don’t want to reunite. I have been frozen on a shelf, and I don’t fit on that tiny shelf anymore.

          There is no other human to human relationship where we are expected to relate to or endure the same emotional torment that b moms are expected to tolerate or endure. I would challenge anyone out there to visualize how b mom’s are required to behave and what they are expected to endure through those 18 years and beyond. Then apply those requirements to any other relationship between two people on the face of this earth who are not involved in adoption. It’s sick really. People are not light switches.

          Of course Cindy, we can only speak from the b moms perspective because that is who we are, and our perspective is just as important as anyone else’s.


  17. kristamarie6518

    September 2, 2016 at 12:33 am

    I too have no idea about this. I placed my daughter up for adoption when I was 17. I am 19 now. It’s an open adoption so I do get update and I can see her but I have no seen her yet because it will be too difficult for me to see her calling the women raising her mom. Which I will have to accept one day so… Am I just her birth mother?


    • TAO

      September 2, 2016 at 3:15 am

      Kristamarie – you will always be her mother too…not parenting her doesn’t take your motherhood away.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Tiffany

      September 2, 2016 at 6:12 pm

      Hi Krista, as an adoptive mom, I would say you are her mom. You aren’t “just” anything. You are always going to be the mother who gave her life, and that never goes away or changes. It might be a challenging experience for your daughter depending on how her adoptive mom views you, but other people cannot and do not have the right to take away your feelings and your perspective.

      We are also in an open adoption where we rarely see our daughter’s mom and dad even though they can visit anytime they want. It is very hard- something I don’t think anyone ever tells moms.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Cindy

        September 3, 2016 at 12:02 am

        Hi.Tiffany. You said, “It is very hard-something I don’t think anyone ever tells moms”.

        I would add to or I guess counter that with this. Agencies and others, with their ‘sales pitch’ for the adoption ‘option’ go to the opposite extreme in telling moms everything –but– that. They may say ‘yes it will be hard, for awhile’ or ‘yes, you will have grief, for awhile. However they minimize it greatly the reality. They go so far to the other side of that with ‘how it’s best’, and ‘how beautiful’ it all is in their attempt to erase any doubts /overcome normal mothering emotions that are already present in the mother. It’s totally wrong. There should be *no* mother who loses /places her child in adoption except those that absolutely, positively do not love and do not want their child. Anything else is too filled with painful complications for all involved.

        I just thought of another of the sales pitches, “you’re not ready/too young to parent”. For their and others information, no matter the age of mothers and fathers they are parents, from this day forward now and forevermore. Separation, time, or erasure from documents does not ever change that. Our bodies and minds were made at conception forever to be mother. Can’t undo that. That is part of what is missing in the understanding and the dialogue. The other is that our children, from conception, were formed and made, in mind and body, to be our children. That’s much of what is not considered or ‘told’ to moms or much of anyone else.

        There are parents such as yourself that see these things and understand them and I really appreciate you for that.

        Liked by 1 person

    • ginny09

      September 2, 2016 at 6:25 pm

      Kristamarie6518, keep the faith you are her Mom.

      At this moment you may have to accept current circumstances.
      If your only 19, return to school.
      May I suggest you earn a 4 year Bachelors degree in Elementary education. Grades K- 6.
      Upon graduating, Apply for and find a job teaching in a public school system with a strong union that includes health care, and a retirement pension. If you have to get loans…do it. Try for scholarships. Do extensive research to find funding. Colleges counselors are available at any school.
      Also, find a job as a teachers aid in an elementary school. The teachers you work with will support your efforts.
      Make yourself “valuable” to your daughters education and life. Make yourself ‘more valuable’ than her adopted parents, and stay well-connected to her. Be aggressive to your education, and you will pull your family back together.

      Liked by 1 person

      • kristamarie6518

        September 2, 2016 at 6:28 pm

        Yes I am 19 and currently learning how to live with a chronic illness. I will be taking online college courses since I am immune compromised. I am interested in the medical field.

        Liked by 1 person

        • ginny09

          September 2, 2016 at 6:41 pm

          Consider majoring in Public Health Education.
          And consider teaching in a public junior or senior high school. Consider financial security.
          A public school teaching position in a union school district, will give you health insurance, a pension plan, equal pay as a women, and your pay will rise as you gain seniority in the school district. Northern states pay teachers a lot more than southern states.
          Be aggressive to maintain your family ties.

          Liked by 1 person

          • kristamarie6518

            September 2, 2016 at 6:44 pm

            My mother is a public school teacher. She doesn’t earn much.


            • ginny09

              September 2, 2016 at 6:57 pm

              To learn what state pay teacher well, contact the teachers union at the federal level. Wisconsin, Minnesota starts teachers at 40K, and up to 88K with 25 years experience. New York is higher. Texas and Arizona top is about 25K. So salary is different in each state. Where are you?


          • kristamarie6518

            September 2, 2016 at 6:44 pm

            And she is always so stressed


          • kristamarie6518

            September 2, 2016 at 6:45 pm

            My family ties have been broken since I was younger. I have no contact with my family


      • kristamarie6518

        September 2, 2016 at 6:48 pm

        I am not trying to get my daughter back by the way. Her parents are raising her and she is doing well.


        • ginny09

          September 2, 2016 at 7:08 pm

          Read the book: The Primal Wound by Dr. Nancy Verrier.

          Liked by 2 people

        • ginny09

          September 2, 2016 at 10:00 pm

          Just a suggestion…stay in her is psychologically best for both of you..

          Liked by 2 people

  18. Cindy

    September 3, 2016 at 12:16 am

    Kristamarie You are mom. Own it. Be it. I know how mind achingly hard it is to see another as mom to our sons and daughters. Something I wish I had done much earlier on is to *claim my motherhood* (if I could underline that I would). Instead of trying to pretend I was not a mother at all. If I wanted to buy a card or a little book that I would like to read to my son or some small little thing, I would. It helped. Of course I didn’t start doing that until after 30 years. … The cards would simply read, ‘thinking of you, with much love, mom’. After reunion found that we were often thinking of each other ..i.e. the date on a card. 🙂

    Even in a closed adoption I had the right to be mom. The ‘removal’ of my parental rights didn’t touch that. And it doesn’t take your right to be Mom either.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. iwishiwasadopted

    September 5, 2016 at 2:10 am

    I was looking into assisted living for my adoptive mother, but decided that she can continue to live with us for the time being. I made an appointment to look at an assisted living facility nearby, but I changed my mind.
    They called me and I said I had reconsidered. The woman on the phone said, “remember the reasons why you were looking into assisted living in the first place”. That reminded me so much of what social workers say to vulnerable expectant mothers. Remember the reason you choose adoption.
    The obvious sales pitch really turned me off.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      September 5, 2016 at 3:18 am

      I wish – it’s so hard at the end, you question everything and there are no easy answers. Hugs



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