Letters to the Editor

The Expression “Birth Mother” Is Misguided

Dear Editor: I read the story “Pro-Life Family Shows the Adoption Choice,” (Feb. 8 edition) with great interest, for my mother relinquished me for adoption within a few weeks of my birth. I find myself saddened by the report’s use of the term “birth mother,” which, sadly, is widespread.

The expression “birth mother” is, at best, misguided, for once a mother, always a mother, with no qualifiers needed. I had two mothers — the mother who gave birth to me and the mother who raised me. I loved them both to the day they died. Women who relinquish their parental rights don’t also relinquish their claim to the title “mother.”

I suspect the persistent use of the term “birth mother” in the media and in common parlance evolved to ease the work of adoption facilitators in convincing prospective adoptive parents that adopted children will simply and solely become “their” children. Alas, if only life was that simple.

The reality is that, yes, adoptive parents raise the children they adopt, but these children remain, in genetic and even mystical ways, a part of their original families. These mothers don’t deserve the dismissal inherent in the term “birth mothers,” as if they were simply an entrance ramp.

Further, these mothers deserve a role in their children’s lives, if not as a parent, then as a beloved and vital part of the child’s legacy, if and when they are ready to assume that. Words matter. Let’s use them to uplift and not to marginalize!

Gerry Regan 


Editor’s note: Thank you for you letter. The use of the term “birth mother” was not intended to diminish the importance or the role of the biological mother in comparison with the adoptive one, but as a necessary way to differentiate one person from the other. We are sure every adoption case is different and no term will do justice to the myriad of different cases in which a mother gives up her child for adoption.