Why So Many Names for Mothers in Adoption?

I am a mother. I am a birth mother. It is interesting how people prefer one or the other with a passion, which poses the question: Why are folks so fixated on names in adoption?

It seems to me that in today’s society everything has a name—very specific names. Some names cut to the chase, and others only confuse and irritate people. Let me break it down like this…

Long ago it was customary to call women who had children and did not raise them (another family raised the child), a biological mother. Then, when that term was deemed too cold and politically incorrect, it changed to birth mother. That was used for a while until people found it offensive, too. So started a bevy of other names to describe those of us who gave birth such as natural mother, life mother, first mother, relinquishing mother, mother removed, just to name a few.

All of these contain one word in common: mother.

In my opinion, I think a mother can call herself what ever she wants. Sure, it may offend other people, but we are not going to make everyone happy all the time. Besides, in any other realm would we allow someone else to choose what we want to be called and accept it so easily? No. Why then, in this case, are we compliant about changing who we are in order to accommodate others?

I did it in this post; I already accommodated others in this very writing. Notice how I chose to word this sentence: “Long ago it was customary to call women who had children and did not raise them (another family raised the child), a biological mother.” I did not use the words, “gave up a child for adoption,” and I did not use the words “placed a child for adoption,” nor did I use the words, “I was coerced into giving my child away for adoption.” I am very, very careful in what I say when I write. I have learned along the way that no matter how hard I try to make a point, often there will be more outrage about HOW I said what I said, as opposed to WHAT it is that I said.

Let me throw this out there. Have the names for the other two sides of adoption changed dramatically in the last decade, century, or, oh, let’s just say since the beginning of time? No, they have not.

The child is known as an adoptee, and the adoptive parents are known as adoptive parents. No other names. No fighting over what they are referred to in conversation. I do not often see complaints in online chats about what those two sides of adoption are named, but go on a site and use birth mother, and there will be at least one who comes into the conversation to say, “You are NOT a birth mother!” Others school you on how inappropriate it is to use that name when adoptees are present. Or better yet, other mothers want you to know that you just “slapped them in the face” for simply using the words birth and mother together. For me, it is a sure bet that I will see at least one person say, “You are not a B MOMMY!”

Uh, yes I am. I am a mother who gave birth, but did not raise her child. I am a birth mother. Personally, I use this because a) that is what I have been using quite comfortably for many years, and b) when I say this, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind where my voice is coming from. In other words, no one speculates as to who I am when I say those two words together. Natural mother? Relinquishing mother? When I say birth mother, people automatically understand what I mean.

So, I ask: Why are there so many names in adoption?