Questions to Avoid Asking Birth Mothers
If you are a potential adoptive parent, or you have a birth mother in your life who is considering adoption, the conversations you have with her need to be handled with the utmost care. Placing your child for adoption is a tremendous act that needs to be acknowledged and respected. If you are a birth mother, you deserve to have your privacy respected. The degree of which you are willing to share is entirely up to you, and nobody has a right to contradict that.
If you are an adoptive parent meeting a birth mother for the first time, it can be productive to plan out what kind of questions to ask. This can be an anxiety-inducing experience, so it’s important to know what kind of questions could be offensive to the birth mother, who is streamlining the adoption process for her child.
Are you sure about your decision?
This is not anyone’s business but the birth mother’s. If she wasn’t sure about her decision to place her baby for adoption, she wouldn’t be doing it. However, if this question is more a question about whether she’s going to change her mind or not during the process, be sure to word it that way. Until she signs her parental rights away, she has the option to keep her baby. Even so, you shouldn’t ask about that either. As a birth mother you have a right to your privacy, and your process, as well as how much you want to share about each of them.
Placing a child for adoption can be extremely grievous for a birth mother. For many of them, it is a labor of love because they know that their child will be living a better life than the one they can provide. Asking her if she’s sure, or if she will change her mind at some point, only serves to remind her of the massive, gut-wrenching loss that she’s enduring, which only heightens her pain and stress.
Are you using drugs?
This is definitely a question to avoid asking birth mothers, especially during a formal meeting. By asking her this, you are making an assumption and imposing a stereotype on her. Even if there is some validity to your assumption, implying that a birth mother might be abusing drugs because she had an unplanned pregnancy is very insulting. It’s not treating the birth mother with the respect and consideration that she deserves.
If you are a birth mother and have been asked this question, you can absolutely refuse to answer and end the meeting. You are not obligated to share any information you don’t feel comfortable with, or feel is too private. Be sure to let your adoption caseworker know, so that they can find you a more suitable match.
Are you choosing adoption because you’re poor?
Birth mothers choose to place their babies for adoption for a variety of reasons. Each and every one of these is hers and hers alone. If you are a birth mother and you get asked about your financial situation, you absolutely have the right to refute this damaging assumption.
Adoption Choices of Colorado helps birth mothers from all walks of life and has resources available in case she needs financial assistance, temporary housing or transportation during her pregnancy and adoption journey. We don’t let birth mothers inhabit an unsafe environment. It is not healthy for them or the baby. However, not every birth mother requires this level of support from us. For those who do, that is entirely their business and not something you should ask about. If you need to know anything specific about your child’s adoptive parents, that information will come from the adoption caseworker.
Where/Who is the birth father?
Typically, as a birth mother, you take the lead on the adoption process. The birth father certainly has a voice, and we fully support that. In fact, there are many instances where a loving and supportive birth father is present with a birth mother throughout the adoption process. Unfortunately, there are just as many birth fathers who are not.
If the birth father isn’t present during the adoption process, it is likely that he is no longer a presence in the birth mother’s life. However, this doesn’t mean that the birth mother is incapable of seeing the adoption process through, or that she should be judged by making this decision alone. Quite the opposite, actually. The relationship, or lack thereof, that you have with the birth father is for you and him alone. Asking a birth mother this question does her a disservice and shows her an overwhelming amount of disrespect. It is an invasion of privacy and should be avoided.
Have you been pregnant/chosen adoption before?
This is another question to avoid asking birth mothers, simply because it’s irrelevant to the journey of an adoptive family. As a birth mother this may be something that you are willing to disclose, but it also may not be. The only reason that this question could be relevant is in terms of the birth mother’s overall health during the pregnancy. However, these details will only be revealed to you through your adoption caseworker if it’s absolutely necessary in regards to your specific birth mother. Otherwise — you don’t need to know.
Treat Birth Mothers with Respect and Gratitude
As a birth mother, you deserve all the respect and gratitude possible. You are doing a tremendous thing for not only your child, but also for your child’s adoptive family. While you are giving your child their best chance at life, you are also helping fulfill the adoptive parents’ dreams of having the family they’ve always wanted.
We understand that you may be experiencing grief and a well of other emotions because of your decision, and we want you to know that we are here for you. Our adoption counselors are ready to talk to you and help you process in any way they can. If you’ve ever been asked the above questions, don’t hesitate to let us know and share your thoughts and feelings about them. If there are any other questions that you feel should’ve been included — let us know that too!
Everything you are experiencing is valid. It’s natural. There is no shame in it. You and your baby are our top priority, and we want to make sure that you have the most positive, empowering and empathetic adoption journey possible!
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.
Meet the Author: Katherine Burns is a journalism student at Loyola University Maryland with plans to pursue a career in the news and magazine industries. With over three years of experience writing for the Greyhound Newspaper at Loyola, Katherine specializes in Op-eds. However, she has recently branched out to cover a variety of topics, including education and sports journalism. She also has ample experience with travel blogging.
Katherine has conducted a variety of interviews in her time at Loyola and has displayed her stories through differing forms of media. In addition to her studies at Loyola, Katherine spent the fall of 2019 studying communications at the American University of Paris.To learn more about Katherine, be sure to check her out on social media.