I don’t like anyone telling me what to call my biological mother, and when they try, it grinds my gears in a wild ass way! I had a fellow adoptee DEMAND I call my biological mother, MOTHER. If I didn’t, she insisted I was feeding into the adoption industry propaganda and that I wasn’t being honest because she was, in fact, my mother! I get what she was trying to say; however, no one gets to tell me what to do or how to refer to my biological mother.
I will never try to tell anyone how to refer to their BIOLOGICAL MOTHER, FIRST MOTHER, or BIRTH MOTHER. I couldn’t call her mother because she didn’t earn the right to gain that title. I will share more about that in a few.
I have had biological mothers jump my ass in online settings for using BM (birth mother or bowel movement) when describing my biological mother. I let them know I can use BM because it’s easier to describe biological mothers in adoption spaces, and most people know what BM means.
Now that I have been on a healing and growth journey, I try to be sympathetic to this. Not because I have to, but because I want to.
For anyone to tell another person how they should refer to anyone in their life is something I can’t entirely agree with. Of course, we are all free to refer to our biological mothers or anyone else as we wish, but that’s not what this article is about. It’s about using a blanket statement calling ALL biological mothers relinquishers. Many individuals call the entire category of biological mothers RELINQUISHERS for those unaware of it.
Over a decade, I have been in the adoptee community and longer than that in online adoptee spaces, better known as ADOPTEELAND. While several years ago, I since retired from Adopteeland altogether, gladly passing the baton over to those who are better equipped to handle the complexities that come with it. There have been many situations where I learned that all biological mothers are referred to as relinquishers, and I have some thoughts on this.
Relinquish – voluntarily cease to keep or claim; give up.
Voluntary – done, given, or acting of one’s own free will.
This is a loaded topic, and I am only sharing from my perspective because I see an issue with ALL biological mothers being classified as relinquishers.
When we refer to ALL biological mothers as relinquishers, we classify them ALL as voluntarily, of their own free will, giving up their babies for adoption. However, we admit that adoption agencies, adoption officials, churches, evangelicals, the pro-life movement, and adoption advocates have particular ways to manipulate and coerce mothers before they give their babies up for adoption.
In that case, we have to consider this when classifying them ALL as relinquishers. We can not know this and rightfully call all biological mothers relinquishers because many of them had no choice.
Most of us are aware that adoption is a multi-billion dollar unregulated business and that there is a lot of money to be made in this arena. We also know that the coercion tactics used on mothers are very sly and cunning. The exploitation runs deep and raw.
I had the experience of reading The Girls That Went Away, a remarkable book that recounts the experiences of biological mothers through the baby scoop era. They share feelings associated with the lifelong trauma of their babies being separated from their existence. Many of them would have kept their babies if they could. However, they had no choice or options between the era they were in and a lack of support. Many were conditioned to believe their babies would be better off without them, and sadly many believed it. Sadly, this still happens today.
Many of us recognize and acknowledge that not all adoptees have the beginnings of their life, which means they don’t know the truth about their beginnings. We can not assume that all international adoptees or domestic adoptees weren’t stolen. We must acknowledge that many adoptees are stolen and sold on the black market and in other awful ways. When we know this, we can’t assume that the biological mothers relinquished their babies, yet many of them were legitimately stolen from them.
How can anyone call all biological mothers relinquishers when they know this is a part of adoption? Once again, If you know this, and you are still calling ALL biological mothers relinquishers, I believe you are just being cruel and mean. This usually always occurs on the internet because most people don’t dare to be this mean in real life.
There are many adoptees who are referring to themselves as “relinquishee” instead of “adoptee.” I wrote an article about that called, “My Views on Adoptee vs. Relinquishee.” While I sometimes use the term relinquishee, it fits my story but it doesn’t fit everyone’s story. Some adopted people are uncertain if they were stolen or relinquished which are two very significant differrences. I will be writing about this soon.
This topic is quite personal to me due to an exceptional individual in my life who was brave enough to share their story with me, who happens to be a biological mother. She was pregnant in the baby scoop era at 15 years old, and like many other unwed mothers, she was swept away to a mother/baby home to prepare for the surrender of her baby. But unfortunately, her parents wouldn’t support her, and at 15, she had no options.
When her daughter turned 18, she had already found her and sat at her high school graduation from afar, watching the baby she gave birth to 18 years earlier walk across the stage. She slipped out, never to be noticed by anyone. Not long after, she pursued reuniting and a relationship with her daughter, and she had an existing one until her dying days. On her deathbed, she still wept tears from the loss of her daughter.
Even in the hospital, she whispered to her many years later as tears wept down her face, “I wish I would have taken you and ran; I’m so sorry I didn’t.” Even with all the cards stacked against her, she carried the pain of the separation from her daughter to her last breath in her last words.
Knowing that she experienced this, and so many other biological mothers, to put them in a category labeled RELINQUISHERS is something I can’t agree with. But, this is one story of countless that I have been willing to listen to and learn from.
Now, my biological mother, on the other hand, might be able to slide her into the category of relinquisher because I genuinely feel she was old enough to know what she was doing. She made a clear and conscious choice as a grown adult, and even when in 1974, things were significantly different than today. She could have kept me and parented me.
The circumstances around her decision are based on the fact that she had an affair with a married man, and I was conceived as a product of this affair. He was a close family friend, and she kept the whole pregnancy a secret, even from my biological father. I don’t call her a relinquisher because I feel it has a vile tone and a mean connotation attached to the way the word is used. Instead, I choose the word biological mother or birth mother for the woman who gave birth to me because that fits my story and what feels comfortable to me.
I feel it’s exceptionally hypocritical to use a blanket statement calling all biological mothers relinquishers when we know these realities exist and that every single separation from our biological mother is different from the next.
Call your biological mother a relinquisher if you wish! But I feel when anyone refers to ALL biological mothers as relinquishers, it’s fueled by anger and spite resulting from unresolved trauma wounds. As we all know, anytime a mother and a child are separated, a trauma occurs, so every adopted person and their biological mothers carry trauma with them whether they understand it or not.
I don’t refer to all birth mothers as relinquishers, nor do I refer to ANY birth mothers as relinquishers. Part of my journey has allowed me the opportunity to have many one-on-one, heart-to-heart online and in-person conversations with biological mothers. I have been willing to try to understand the depths of their experiences. Everyone has said it was a traumatic experience, and almost all said they had no choice. I’m not saying this is the case for every story because I know it’s not.
Kindness and compassion go a long way. However, being a mean human being isn’t cool at all. When someone is mean, rude, or disrespectful on the internet, or if they have bullying tendencies, I completely tune them out and turn them off. They get no airtime in my world. I encourage you to do the same!
Let’s try to do better and reconsider when we think about using blanket statements by calling all biological mothers relinquishers and let’s handle each experience as its individual own. Let’s take accountability that we legitimately know not all birth mothers have or had a choice. Let’s grow in our journeys to have more kindness and compassion for others.
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Thanks for reading,
*The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of the author, Pamela A. Karanova. Reproduction of the material contained in this publication may be made only with the written permission of Pamela A. Karanova