March 1st, 2007
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Adoption Terms and Lingo Part 1
Part 2 Home Studies
Part 3 Relinquishment

You may be noticing a lot of “titles” in your research. Birthmother, First mother, Lifemother, Natural Mother, Biological Mother – What do they all mean? Why are their so many different titles? It can be a little confusing at first.

As mentioned in Part 1, a birthmother is defined as: Refers to the people who biologically created the child.

Before I delve into explanations of the different names, let’s remind ourselves that an expectant mother is not a birthmother. A woman does not become a birthmother until after her rights are relinquished.

According to Bill Bentzen’s Planning an Adoption:


Please note that until there is an adoption, the person planning adoption is referred to as a parent, mother or father. It is only after the adoption that the term birth parent is used. The adoption process changes your role as a parent. Until then you are a parent in every since of the term.

The term “first mother” is kind of self explanatory if you look at it, right? It’s the first mom, the first person who loved the baby, cared for him/her, and made decisions for him/her. In all honesty, this is probably my favorite term, although on a day to day basis I use birthmother. I was my son’s first mother – the first one to know of his existence, the first to hear his heartbeat, the first to see him on the ultrasound, the first to feel him, etc. These are the “firsts” I have. His adoptive mother got the other ones – first word, first tooth, and first step. I treasure the firsts I did have and besides, first mother just sounds more special!

Lifemother is a term made popular by fellow birthmom, Skye Hardwick, who runs a website for birthmothers coined after the term. It refers to the person who gave the baby life and is a mother, if not in the tangible sense, it some form, for the child’s entire life. Skye has a lengthy explanation on her site that explains why she likes the term lifemother for herself. My favorite portion of that explanation says,

‘Life’ in Lifemother represents the continuous role I have in my child’s life – even if my adoption was closed, I will always pray for, and think about my beloved child.
‘Life’ in Lifemother represents the truth that my role did not end at birth, but continues for life.
‘Life’ in Lifemother represents the truth that even though I am not a parent to my child, I will always be one of her mothers; from near or afar.

Lastly, let’s talk about the term “natural mother.” I couldn’t find a whole lot of information about this term, except for the fact that it was one of the more original terms used in older adoptions for the most part. Some people said they didn’t like it because it made the relationship between the adoptive mother and child seem unnatural while others preferred the term because it recognized the natural connection between mother and child.

So, lots of different terms all used to describe one person!

One Response to “Adoption Terms and Lingo Part 4: Birthmother and it’s Many Variations”

  1. I, personally, like firstmother but I also, on a day-to-day basis use birth mother. I respond to either. I don’t respond to natural mother. Lifemother never made my boat float but I get the reasons behind it. If I need extra emphasis, I have referred to myself, in a conversation (or two) with really oblivious people, as her biological mother. (You know, for the ones that you have to S-P-E-L-L everything out to? Yeah.)

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