5 Adoption-Related Things Not To Say To A Woman With An Unplanned Pregnancy

If you’re hoping to adopt, you’ve likely come across your share of rude and insensitive comments. Some of them may have come from strangers; perhaps others from your own family members. Either way, they can be devastating, even if in most cases they stem from ignorance rather than maliciousness.

But if you think you’ve got it bad, consider what a woman with an unplanned pregnancy has to go through. Caught in a crisis situation, she has to make a life-altering decision that will affect two futures: her baby’s and her own.

One of the options she may be looking at is adoption. Adoption isn’t something that anyone takes lightly. And yet judging by the way some hopeful adoptive parents speak to women with an unplanned pregnancy in conversations or in their adoption profile, you would never know it.

Your profile is your best chance to reach out and make your adoption dream a reality. What you say and how you say it could make or break your chances of success. In order to make a connection with a woman with an unplanned pregnancy, you not only need to know what to say — you need to know what not to say. Here are five things you should avoid saying in your profile and in your conversations with a woman with an unplanned pregnancy that will allow you to increase your chances of finding a match.

“Dear Birthmother”
If you’ve researched adoption profiles, chance are you’ve come across this term. In fact, there are sites and books devoted to it. “Dear Birthmother” are the words that hopeful adoptive parents have used for years to open their profile. A “Dear Birthmother letter” is also a synonym for an adoption profile — as are the terms “parent profile” and “adoption resume.” Problem is, your letter isn’t written for a “birthmother.” A woman doesn’t become a birthmother until after she relinquishes her baby. Until then, she’s simply a pregnant woman who may be considering adoption.

“Why are you giving up your baby?”
This statement is problematic for many reasons. First of all, prospective birthparents don’t give up a child. They make an adoption plan. This isn’t about semantics or about being politically correct. No woman goes to the trouble of carrying her baby to term, caring for it, undergoing a heart-wrenching search for a loving home — only to “give it up.” Woman with an unplanned pregnancy place their babies for adoption. And only after a period of deep reflection that involves exploring all of their options.

“Do you think you’ll change your mind?
Until an a woman with an unplanned pregnancy places her baby for adoption, she not only has the option of changing her mind. It’s her right. That’s why calling her a birthmother before the relinquishment can be risky. For some birthmothers, referring to a woman with an unplanned pregnancy as a birthmother is a form of coercion that robs her of choice. I wouldn’t go that far. But I would argue that calling a woman a birthmother before the placement takes place could cause problems by giving you a false sense of security.  Remember, up until the day of relinquishment, an expectant mother can change her mind any time and there’s nothing you can do about it.

“A baby would complete our life.
Having a baby may very well complete your life, but that’s not something you need to share with a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy. As hard as it may be to understand, her decision isn’t about you. It’s about what’s best for her baby. By providing her baby with a loving home, you can help her with her decision — if she has an adoption plan. Her priority is to make her baby’s life complete. Not yours. To avoid heartbreak and disappointment, keep yourself busy. Don’t put your life on hold after you’ve found a match. Treat the prospective birthmother with the same dignity and respect that you would treat any pregnant woman. And remember, if she does change her mind, don’t take it personally. Chance are, it had nothing to do with you.

Your baby would be a gift to us.  
This is another comment that at first glance may seem innocuous. But it could cause headaches if you’re not careful. Some adoption professionals and websites refer to adoption as a “gift,” a “noble and selfless” act on behalf of a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy. Birthparents place their baby for all kinds of reasons. But offering their baby as a gift to adoptive parents isn’t one of them. There are easier ways to do that. Relinquishing a baby for adoption involves pain and loss. By referring to a baby as a gift to you, you’re essentially minimizing the suffering that a expectant mother experiences as she goes through the placement process.

Making a connection with a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy who’s considering adoption doesn’t come overnight. It takes time and careful consideration, especially in regards to the words you use in your adoption profile and conversations. Using respectful language won’t just help you create a connection. It could help you create a solid foundation for you, the birthmother and your baby to build on in the years to come.