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Thursday, January 26, 2006



Language is tricky and has so many painful pitfalls. I like First Mother too, but I think that's because it makes me think of First Peoples.

Lifemother sounds really odd to me - I'd never heard it before and actually I immediately assumed it was the term for the adoptive mother so I think it's a bit confusing.

Personally I use 'biological father' for Kieran's absent father. It's a bit unwieldy but it pretty much sums it up. He has never been a father to my son and at this stage I see him as little more than a sperm donor. He chose not to remain involved when he knew I was pregnant, despite us having been in a relationship for about 3 years, so I don't feel he has any rights to claim anything other than a genetic connection. I don't know if he regrets walking away but he could easily find us if he choose to.

I must admit that I'd be pretty furious if someone were to call A. Kieran's 'real dad' - boy, that term 'real' is pretty loaded in these contexts, isn't it!

Other people will occasionally use 'stepdad' in relation to my partner but we always just call him Kieran's dad. That was something we let Kieran choose though, Cat's been in his life for more than 11 years and after a few years Kieran started calling him 'Dad'. It was never something we pushed at all and we've always been very clear about his actual origins.


Away2Me, the woman who gave birth to the child and the child are always part of each other. If you hurt one, you hurt the other. To say that the only person who matters in the whole adoption is the child inherently devalues the women who carried and gave birth to the child, which actually hurts the child, too. Does that make any sense?

Keep rolling with the frustration and anger you're feeling right now. It means you're in the worst part and are starting to learn and sort things out. (FWIW, I don't pretend to understand adoption--I just recognize myself in the frustration you're expressing from times when I've been reading things that were hurtful to me but that eventually helped me to learn and grow in my understanding of different people's experiences.) I hope things start to be more clear and less painful soon.


Wow... it's amazing how complicated it all is... so many legitimately complex feelings to consider if adoption is actually ever going to be a truly humane and equitable experience for mother, child, and potential adoptive parent.

I, for ome, absolutely do not agree that the ONLY person who matters is the child... it saddens me to read this. After what I know you, and my own mother endured... among countless untold others, I could never dismiss a human being like that... particulary a a mother to a child being relinquished for adoption. That woman's feelings, in my mind, are absolutely germaine to the whole humanity of the process.

As far as labels... this is so hard... and as you, yourself said, Kateri... there is no easy answer. But I do know this... your FEELINGS about these labels matter. Imagine if adoptive parents had been dismissed or marginalized by society throughout history... I think they would mind if they were labelled... oh... say... substitute mothers. Or how about... barren mothers... infertile mothers... runner up mothers. Sounds horrible doesn't it. But those are accurate terms... why should an adoptive mother care? What difference does it make? Funny isn't it... how it suddenly doesn't seem ridiculous to be sensitive about labels... even if there's no obvious solution for suitable terminology.

I don't know... perhaps it's all too much for some people... too much for them to assimilate... I just hope those people don't go ahead and adopt without resolving these struggles first...


Posts are allowed to irritate your readers. My post irritate readers of my blog and obviously my comment irritated readers here. I believe that is how we learn, we get irritated enough to respond.

Moxie said: "the woman who gave birth to the child and the child are always part of each other. If you hurt one, you hurt the other. To say that the only person who matters in the whole adoption is the child inherently devalues the women who carried and gave birth to the child, which actually hurts the child, too. Does that make any sense?"

Yes, that does make sense. However, I don't think putting the child first devalues the birth mother, in fact I think it honors the birth mother. In the end we all have to make sure that the child's feelings are number one. They are the only ones that don't have any say in this.

In no way ever would I want to hurt the woman who created, loved and shared her child with us. I will never make a promise I can't keep and I will never lie to her. NEVER. That is just a small part of the way I will honor my child's birth mother.


I think you need to reread my first comment. My point was I, as a hopeful adoptive mom DO care about what to call birth/life/natural/first moms! That's why the orignial post irritated me and I'm sorry if the word irritated offended. I do care and I feel that no matter how much I care, no matter what term is used someone will be offended or irritated, if I didn't use the term they want adoptive families to use. I guess I only need to worry about what works for the woman who chooses us.


Ah, shucks, Kateri. You always make me think. Sometimes it hurts to read the posts, but then I'm always grateful, because you've made me push myself a little bit more and think a little bit harder.

Damn, I'm glad you're here and I'm glad your willing to express yourself.


Why not just call yourself a biological mother? I have 2 adopted children and their parents are not in their life (rights terminated), but they exist and when we have questions or comments about them in our family we call them biological parents. I am the mom to my children. They know they were not born from me. They know they were picked by us because they were in a bad circumstance with their biological parents. I believe my daughter will one day seek out her biological mother, and hopefully, she will not be disappointed in what she finds. I'll support her all the way.

Sarah V.

I like 'first mother' as well, but I don't think 'second mother' would be the best term for an adoptive mother. Not so much because I think it's demeaning to the mother - as someone who may possibly adopt in the future, I really don't feel bothered by the title. To me, it's no more demeaning than calling the child a second child - it's simply a fact. What I'd be worried about would be the way it might sound to the child. If you have a first mother and a second mother, doesn't that imply that at some point you might get handed on to a third mother?

At the moment, I think 'first mother' and 'adoptive mother' is the best combination we're going to get. And I do agree with Kim that a lot of the time, in practice, you can simply refer to the 'other mother', which I like even better in those cases where it can be used.

Thanks, Kateri, for making me think as always.


Just to throw my two cents in, I am adopted and I've never liked the term birth mother either although not for the reasons mentioned. I met my birth mother when I was 23 and we're very close now. I'm so glad that we were able to connect and that she is very much a part of my live and my children's lives. But having said that, she's not my mother. To me my mother is the woman who raised me. Even now 4 years after my mother's death, I still don't think of my birth mother as my mother. I can't really describe how I feel about her. She's definitely a part of me. I remember when we first met, it was like there was this absolute connection there, this "yes, it's you" type of feeling. We have so many similarities, so much that we share. But while she considers me her daughter, despite having been pregnant and given birth 3 times to my own children, I still can't make that leap and feel that she's my mother. So yes, the term birth mother feels strange on my tongue. Not to mention if I tell someone I'm meeting my birth mother, it always sounds like we're having some big emotional reunion you'd see on Oprah. Sometimes I call her biomom, but she says that makes her sound like the Bionic Woman. She says she never really uses any term, if anyone asks her if she has any children she just says yes and leaves it at that.


Do you have a livejournal account so that you could read protected posts of friends? If not it would be a good time to get one... I'm blogging a pretty darn good adoption topic right now and could use some imput.

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