Wednesday, May 15, 2013



"Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother"

I came across a pendant on Etsy inscribed with this quote, which I believe was originally from Oprah Winfrey (though I don't know the context in which she said it). The piece of jewelry was obviously targeting mothers who were adopting, but it left a sting and a desire to write about it.

Mothers who fall outside the traditional definition of motherhood often need a lot of comfort and support, whether they're stepmoms, birthmoms, adoptive moms, single moms, etc. As a birthmom, I needed to hear the opposite of what this pendant proclaimed: I am a mom. My decision was not loveless or selfish. And there is a love, motherly love and mother-child bond that is significant and should be acknowledged.

I understand that this thought is often voiced when we look at biological fathers and mothers who were absent in their children's lives emotionally, physically. There are so many unfortunate cases of both fathers and mothers who abandon their children, not in the context of adoption, but with cruelty and disinterest. Or perhaps more subtly, providing for their children physically and financially, but never showing their love or support, never truly developing a relationship.

But this is hardly the story I've heard when I talk to birthmothers. They don't choose to carry their child, often with social and familial shame, find a stable, loving family to provide for him, and choose to bear the burden of loss so that both they and their child can have a better chance at opportunity and change, because of neglect or selfishness. Birthmothers don't abandon their children, and they don't need to to be further shamed by others who belittle the importance of biology and what the mother of that child endured.

Adoptive parents are wonderful, special, essential people. I am beyond grateful for my son's parents, and so many adoption stories of those I know just warm my heart because of the genuine love and care and desire they have for these children in need. They are absolutely mothers and fathers - biology doesn't exclude them from that significant name.

And I recognize that because of the limited understanding of many in our society, they unfortunately run into hurtful comments that seem to segregate them from "real" parents. They certainly face many hardships from others due to ignorance, much like birthmothers.

So, what I wish I could see more of is support for both sides, education for both sides and comfort to both. But, not at the expense of others.

I don't wish to magnify birthmothers over parenting mothers or adoptive mothers or to cruelly crush the importance of someone else in order to make a case for whatever role I identify with.

And adoptive mothers, or stepmothers, don't have to degrade biology to prove the legitimacy of their family and their role.

Let's educate, let's use facts, show a loving example of who we are - whether a family brought together by love or a parents getting on their feet after choosing adoption - without crushing those opposite us.

Have you heard comments that you found hurtful as a birthmother? How do you react?


  1. Well said Amber. Very thoughtful. Thank you.

  2. I am an adoptee. I think your writing is fantastic. I have deduced the identity of my birthmother, but she is ashamed of the situation, so I have not yet decided how or if I will ever approach her. I feel she is owed a certain degree of privacy, so I have to find a solution that preserves her privacy and yet satisfies my surprisingly powerful urge to reunite with the woman who brought me into this world. Thanks for your work!

  3. I'm an adoptive mother and I just don't feel that I'm degrading biology in any way by acknowledging that I am every bit of a mother to my child as a birth mom would have been. I have a great respect for our BM and honor her as the BM but I'm no less my child's mom..