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Why Women “Give Up” Their Babies for Adoption – Thoughts from a Birth Mother

I had no idea how frequently the phrase “giving up baby” came up in adoption searches on the internet until recently. Is adoption actually giving up on baby? Is this language politically correct? Is it even true?

As a birth mother who knew little about adoption before choosing this path, I find this phrasing of “giving up” rather heartbreaking. I can promise you that my personal experience with adoption has taught me that adoption is anything but giving up.

Why I Feel So Strongly About Adoption Language

Words have power. Meaning brings power. We should always choose our words wisely. Just today, I spoke words that were harsh, and they brought me nothing but harshness in return. However, when I speak words of love, that is what I receive in return. Call it karma, call it the law of attraction, call it reaping what you sow, call it whatever you want. The bottom line is that words have great spiritual power, and with the tip of a pen and its parchment, creation is achieved.

However, some words we take for granted, and even with the best intentions, we can create something negative. This principle applies to adoption language, as well.

Why I Didn’t Give My Baby Up

I didn’t “give up” my baby for adoption; my decision was so that I wouldn’t give up on my baby. I made my adoption decision because I knew I wasn’t in a place to provide a happy and healthy life for my child. I choose adoption for my baby because I knew that setting my own desires aside also meant thinking about a future that I wasn’t ready to provide.

My adoption decision was truly made with a love beyond my own. In fact, I believe I was led spiritually to that decision and through that process by my God. I relied on my faith during my adoption process, and that took courage, strength, boldness, intentionality and self-sacrifice. So, no, choosing adoption for your baby is never “giving up” your baby.

Society Has Some Catching Up to Do

I don’t typically talk about adoption politics, but once in a while I become frustrated with what I see around me and hear about in modern day society. There is such a lack of resources for healing for the women who choose adoption after they go through placement. I feel that birth mothers often are forgotten after completing their adoption.

In my life and work, I try to address this issue by speaking freely about my own adoption decision and healing journey. Being an advocate for birth mothers is not always easy, but it’s always worth it.

A good friend of mine (also a fellow birth mother) is volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center and talking about her experience as a birth mother. At her talks, the audience will include representatives from a few local adoption agencies. I think this is a great opportunity for her to speak about the lack of resources for healing for birth mothers post-placement. Birth mothers become the forgotten part of the adoption triad for most of modern-day society — a point on which she agreed.

What is My Proposed Solution?

The first step in helping society understand that adoption is not “giving up” is to start talking about adoption with positive language. If we perpetuate the stereotypes, we only reinforce them and enable their continuance. If you have the opportunity to speak with someone about adoption, and you decide in that moment to take it, please consider the language you use — especially because many people don’t understand the true beauty in adoption and its possibilities today.

I believe that everyone who has chosen adoption can have a testimony in healing. I also believe that every woman has her own path to follow and does not owe one single soul around her an explanation or justification.

On the other hand, birth mothers must remember that we are not forgotten. The next woman to choose adoption could be someone you know, and you have no idea who you are influencing in a positive way. In fact, I believe every human has many testimonies that they could share to help others. Adoption as a birth mother is only one of my many testimonies.

My story aside, look at your own adoption decision, and ask yourself: “Why did I choose adoption for my baby?” I’m sure the answer will have more to do with a selfless act of love than anything that could be misconstrued as “giving up.”

Instead of telling yourself or anyone else that you “gave” your baby up for adoption, please consider more positive phrasing.  For example, you can say that, “I chose adoption for my baby,” or you can say, “I placed my baby up for adoption.” Whatever you do, try not to use the phrasing “giving up,” but use the words “place” or “chose” instead.

For any birth mother reading this who feels shame or guilt or both about her adoption decision, please know that you are not alone. Healing is possible. Please reach out for guidance. I encourage all of you to be kind to yourselves for, as a birth mother, you made a sacrifice out of love, and that is the ultimate gift.

-Lindsay Arielle

Lindsay is a guest blogger for Considering Adoption. She placed her son for adoption 7 years ago and hopes to use her experience to support and educate other expectant mothers considering adoption, as well as adoptive families.