June 1st, 2007
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As an expectant mother considering adoption you may be reading letters addressed “dear birthmother,” looking at areas on agency websites that say “for birthmothers,” and hear the word birthmother used in regards to you. I imagine it might all be a little confusing to you.

Are you a birthmother? No, not yet! And you may not become one at all if you do not follow through with an adoption plan.

Technically, you do not become a birthmother until you sign the relinquishment papers terminating your parental rights. Until that moment, you are simply a good mother or a good expectant mother considering the adoption option for her child.


Some people may think that insisting on not calling an expectant mother considering adoption a birthmother is “splitting hairs” or being nit picky, but I don’t necessarily think so. In this day and age, I find it politically incorrect. I think that calling an expectant mother considering adoption a birthmother implies that she has already decided upon adoption when she may have not decided for sure and it can also unconsciously put you in the state of mind as having already relinquished.

It can also lend false hopes to a potential adoptive couple for the agency involved to constantly be referring to an expectant mother as a birthmother before she has signed over her parental rights.

A positive thing that I am noticing lately is the more we speak out about this the more people are beginning to make changes and call expectant mothers just what they are, expectant mothers. When researching online the other day, I ended up on an agency website and noticed that they had changed their “birthmother section” to a “pregnant section” so at least people are beginning to understand and realize that an expectant mother isn’t a birthmother before birth.

Related posts:
Birthmother, First Mother, Natuaral Mother – What do they all mean?
Adoption Terms and Lingo Part 4: Birthmother and it’s many variations

3 Responses to “Are you a Birthmother?”

  1. Faith Allen says:

    “Technically, you do not become a birthmother until you sign the relinquishment papers terminating your parental rights.”

    In a state in which a woman can revoke this relinquishment after signing for a prescribed period of time, would it still be appropriate to call her a “birthmother” during that time? For example, my son’s birthmother signed the relinquishment papers when he was two days old and placed him into our home, but she had 10 days by law in which she could have chosen to parent.

    As the “Hoping to Adopt” blogger, I struggle with how to refer to a woman in this situation on my blog. I put together a series, which will post later this month, about the first week of adopting a newborn, and I talk about writing letters to the “placing mother,” meaning a woman who has signed the relinquishment papers and placed the baby into an adoptive home but who could still choose to parent. Is “placing mother” a respectful term in this situation? I am struggling with this because neither “expectant mother” nor “birthmother” seem accurate to me, and I want to be respectful in the manner in which I discuss this.

    Thanks for your help with this.

    - Faith

  2. lahdh4 says:

    I was J’s mom until the point I signed those stupid papers. Then I became a birthmom. :(

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