Balancing On The Tight Rope Of Adoption Political Correctness

I was reading an adoption forum today and was some what offended by a statement regarding racial selection and more specifically the lower number of Caucasian babies available for adoption, the statement  in question was one pertaining to “The supply is very low and the demand very high”. While I understand what the writer was trying to say, I do believe it is important to be mindful of using sensitive wording when making such statements. Babies, after all, are not commodities to be bought or exchanged, it is not the same as standing in a shoe store, trying to decide between a black or red pair of shoes, where perhaps the supply of black shoes would be in higher demand.

This got me thinking about the varying types of adoption terminology out there, it really is a balancing act, requiring us to be sensitive and yet still able to be direct with the point we’re trying to make. It is a minefield of political correctness but in order to be sensitive to all those on the adoption journey, from adoptive parents (AP’s) to adoptee’s to Birth Mom’s (BM’s), it is necessary to educate oneself on what is and what isn’t acceptable terminology.

One of the interesting terms for me, and this pertains mostly to American adoption blogs, is the argument over the terms Birth Mom versus First Mom and from there leading to the argument over First Mom versus Second Mom. I went and googled this topic and was astounded how many hits that search got. You can read an interesting article on this topic here.

Frankly, I try not to get all hung up on the terminology used. Adoptive Mom, Second Mom, call me what you like, I prefer to just think of myself as Ava’s Mom. The only time I do get a little hot under the collar is when uninformed people refer to Ava’s BM/FM as her REAL mom because then by definition I am not her REAL mom. I find that both hurtful and insensitive.

As for the debate over BM/FM, I’m not exactly sure I understand it completley, or why referring to Ava’s BM/FM as her Birth Mother should or could be considered offensive.  Ava’s BM herself refers to herself as Ava’s tummy mummy, Lordy, I bet the anti-adoption lobbyists would have a heart-attack if they heard her calling herself that. A name she chose by the way, not one we assigned to her.

One thing I know for certain, and with all the reading I’ve been doing into the hotly debated topic of adoption, is this: when you embark on the adoption journey, or when you have a family or friend who is embarking on the adoption journey, it’s important to educate yourself, it’s important to read as much as you can, from all angles of the adoption triad, to better understand the fairly unique circumstance of adoption.

As an Adoptive Mom/Second Mom/Root-of-all-evil according to some anti adoption blogs, I have learned that whether I like it or not, whether I want it or not, whether I’m up for the challenge or not, I will always be an ambassador for adoption, I will always need to be well informed about adoption and I’d always need to be able to answer all questions pertaining to adoption, even the most inappropriate of questions.

If you or someone you know is embarking on the adoption journey, I’d encourage you to read these posts:

How To Irritate A Birth Mother & Adoptive Parents

Adoption Etiquette and Adoption Etiquette Part 2

And lastly, think very carefully about what you say when speaking of the subject of adoption, babies are not commodities to be traded, do not fall into the trap of believing all the stereotypes which abound about adoption.

Get informed and most importantly, do so with a willing and open heart.




  • Sian

    February 29, 2012 at 9:11 am

    I appreciate it when people ask questions so they can educate themselves instead of just making assumptions, and that is where the difference lies. The last line of your post is so true……and it should be applied to all life experiences, not just adoption.

  • Tan

    February 29, 2012 at 9:55 am

    Taylor’s’ parents call me her “other mummy”
    This is not something I chose to be called Taylor’s parents decide to call me that and you should hear how everyone goes ballistic about it. In all contact, Cards emails and in person I only call myself by my name. Tanya. but I respect that its her parents decision. and if they are comfortable then so am I. but she can call me what ever she feels comfortable with.

    And My thoughts are that you are Ava’s Mom just as Taylor’s Mom is. I am Morg’s and Em’s Mom Not Taylor’s’. But she is my child. I don’t believe just because you give birth means you are a “Real Mother” I believe that a Mother is the one that is there for the child. The one who tucks you in at night. Who cries because you are hurt, who hurts because someone was mean to you, Who prays that they could swop places with you when you are sick. Who knows what you like best and what you hate. who knows that they wont sleep unless you leave the light on.

    I don’t tuck Taylor in to bed
    I don’t know when shes hurt or sad
    I don’t always know when shes sick
    I don’t get up 10 times a night because she has a tummy bug.
    I don’t know what she needs or wants to go to sleep
    I don’t know what she doesn’t eat

    Its not because I don’t want to know but that is what the reality is. I am not her mom, I am not with her enough to know all these things. Her parents are!, that’s what makes them her real parents.

  • Pandora

    February 29, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    The article you mention above is intersting and has some good points. But it is the writer’s own preference to use the term first mom. Here is the thing that bothers me about these ‘politically correct’ terms. why does some group get to decide what we need to call ourselves and others involved in our circumstances.? I like the term birth mom or tummy mommy, and I don’t much like first mom, not because I don’t want the label of second mom, as, like you, I am just mom.
    These terms have a bit of a ring of first wife, second wife about them. (Yes, my parents are divorced and my dad remarried) I don’t like these trerms at all, they give me, personally, a very negative vibe. But that is just me, I think people should be free to just choose their own labels without judgement. If we had met our BM and she had told us she wanted to be referred to as ‘Blue Moon Godess Living Here On Earth’, that is what I would call her happily. and I would defend her right to have that name.
    There are just so many other things for people to be more sensitive about regarding adoption, and life in general, thrather than worrying about what to call people. Like how to not ask ‘Where is her real mom?” (another lable, I know)

  • TJ

    March 1, 2012 at 10:10 am

    I’m really enjoying your series of posts around Adoption. I have learnt a great amount. And I think there are those of us that do want to use the PC terminology but not sure on what is PC. And as you have blogged about it seems there are varying thoughts and feelings about this. Which just complicates things. I agree with Pandora – let people choose their own labels – and focus on educating those of us not in the know.

    PS. I don’t like the term First Mom/ Second Mom either. It just doesn’t sound very loving. It would also imply primary and secondary – in which case the Primary Mom would be the second Mom? I mean do people really even think these things through?

  • To Love Bella

    March 1, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    I CRINGE out loud (!!) when our BM is referred to as her REAL mom.. and this usually comes from our paed!! It’s not that I want to detract anything from our BM .. but I am Isabella’s real mom. In every sense of the word. I just didn’t carry her in my tummy.
    I must say, I have REALLY been so tentative at reading adoption blogs. Truth is, I am chicken. I end up taking to heart so much of what is said by these people. As I said to you – they are voicing the fears that I have; things I am scared that Isabella would one day say or feel. Poop scared, in fact.
    Will the judgement of and nasty stigma attached to adoption EVER end?


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