Adoption Terms: What is the Difference Between an Expectant Mother, a Birth Mother, and an Adoptive Mother?

By Elle Kerrigan

When looking into how to put a child up for adoption, you come across many terms that may seem unfamiliar. It can be confusing! For example, there is a difference between expectant, birth, and adoptive mothers. One of the many great things about an adoption agency like Adoption Choices of Colorado is that we can help you keep track of this terminology. Our adoption counselors have been assisting families with adoption in Colorado for 21 years. We are knowledgeable about everything from the language surrounding adoption to each step of the adoption process. Our goals are to clarify the process and make you feel confident and comfortable in seeking adoption. 

If you need adoption help now, please call or text us at 303-670-4673 (HOPE) or visit us at Adoption Choices of Colorado.

What is an Expectant Mother?

An expectant mother is a pregnant person who has yet to give birth. You can be an expectant mother with either a planned or unplanned pregnancy. We often use this term to speak to individuals seeking help creating an adoption plan. While an adoption plan can be created at any time, many mothers choose to do so while pregnant. Expectant mothers use adoption plans to organize the details of their pregnancy, birth, and adoption. This is done with the help of our skilled adoption specialists, who can direct you toward what needs to be covered. 

Who is Considered a Birth Mother?

If you have already delivered your baby, you are a birth mother. An expectant mother eventually becomes a birth mother if the pregnancy leads to birth. This term is used in the adoption world to refer to the child’s biological mother. We use the phrase “birth mother” to ensure that it is known that they are mothers. Many who place a baby for adoption can struggle with their identity. They wonder if they can call themselves a mother. Placing a child for adoption does not mean you are not a mother. The birth mother’s identity also helps individuals identify their rights in the adoption process. Both expectant and birth mothers have financial assistance rights that vary by state laws. If you are pursuing adoption in Colorado, there are protections in place for you. You may qualify for financial or legal assistance. Of course, you always qualify for support through an agency such as Adoption Choices of Colorado. This is completely free to a birth mother. 

What Role Does the Adoptive Mother Play in an Adoption?

Lastly, an adoptive mother is an individual who gains legal custody of the child through the adoption process. Adoptive mothers are an important piece of the adoption puzzle. If the birth mother chooses an open adoption, many birth mothers and adoptive mothers have a close relationship throughout the child’s life. The child may differentiate the two by thinking of them in their respective terms, but it’s important to note that they are both still mothers. This is usually only relevant when speaking of the child’s adoption in legal terms or specific conversations. Typically, the child’s adoptive mother is simply their mother. 

Using the Right Adoption Term

It’s important that we use these three different terms so we know exactly how to help. For example, expectant mothers have different needs than birth mothers; birth mothers have different needs than adoptive mothers, and so on. When you know how to best refer to yourself and to others, you can better communicate with our specialists. These terms also give a degree of specificity and respect to each individual, which is important throughout the process. Each person should know that they are a valued part of the adoption. Once you have become well-versed in adoption language, you can communicate your needs with Adoption Choices of Colorado effectively and continue to learn more about the process.

The Importance of Using the Proper Adoption Term

Adoption Choices of Colorado provides private adoption services to anyone who is in need of support. We can help you pursue adoption in Aurora, Denver, or anywhere you’re located in Colorado. As a non-profit organization, we are extremely passionate about providing educational resources, emotional support, and adoption services to those who need them. We know that it can be overwhelming trying to keep up with all the steps and new terms that come with adoption. The difference between expectant, birth, and adoptive mothers is not too hard, but it’s important. We like to use these terms in order to highlight different needs, show respect, and encourage identity. 

If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy and want to learn more about your adoption options, contact Adoption Choices of Colorado by email, phone, or text: Email Us, Text us: 720-371-1099, Call us: 303-670-4673 (HOPE). If you are hoping to adopt, please contact us here.

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