Honest Adoption Language

“You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool mom.” – Murphy

Honest Adoption Language

Because of the harmful lifelong consequences of separating family members, we use honest, accurate terms such as “mother,” “single mother,” “parent,” “grandparent,” “son” or “daughter” which do not minimize or attempt to deny familial bonds — most specifically, the dyad. If a distinction between family members must be made, please use the prefix “natural.” The term “natural mother” is reality-based and historically accurate. Natural mother was the medical and legal term commonly in use until the adoption industry introduced the “b” words.

Words like these are dishonest from a number of perspectives including the historical, emotional, and psychological points of view. Because the adoption industry has invested heavily in promoting “Positive Adoption Language”, words such as these have also gained currency with the public at large. When used to describe pregnant women who are merely considering adoption, these words become weapons. They are coercive. Their implicit message is that the outcome of this pregnancy is predetermined, ie, adoption. These words carry the message that people can become former family. You can have an former husband, but you can never have a former child or become a former mother.

Words like these are also dishonest from a psychological perspective. The “B” term is dehumanizing. The word reduces a woman to a function – that of giving birth. Mothers are not incubators. They are not disposable objects, to be thrown away at will. Motherhood is not a class privilege reserved for women who can afford it. Motherhood os not a social privilege granted only to married women. Motherhood is not a moral privilege granted only to those deemed worthy by an authority figure. To create a class of people — “B” mothers — carries the message that not every woman is entitled to her motherhood. It denies the maternity of millions of impoverished women around the globe. It also denies the maternity of many of our mothers, grandmothers, and great grandmothers, who may have come to this country as impoverished immigrants.

BSERI decries the use of industry created and promoted “Positive Adoption Language”. We strongly encourage the use of honest, accurate terms that reflect the realities of both mothers and their children.