Good Mothers Don’t Even Think About Adoption!

Adoption is not a gift!

Welcome to the Catch 22 of the “Good Mother”

Adoption agencies such as Bethany Christian Services tell us that

Exploring your options and considering or even placing your baby does not mean that you don’t love your child. It means that you love your child and want the very best for him or her, whatever your ultimate decision is and are considering those options out of that love.

Other websites tell us that women choose adoption because “Adoption is a courageous and loving decision.”

The same message is said over and over again on various adoption agency websites and within the adoption community message boards, repeated by eons of adoptive parents; the birthmother made a wonderful loving decisions to place her child for adoption.

Is the Birthmother a Good Mother?

We think we are.  Like I have explained the choice of adoption is made by mothers who believe that they are doing the best thing for their child at the time. We want to believe that we take the hit, sacrifice ourselves, for the betterment of the child. We remind ourselves of our reasons when we are alone at night. We wrap ourselves in the feel good fantasy of a happy child and often, pride ourselves for being “better”, stronger, selfless, smarter. In Adoptionland, as long as we are happy compliant birthmothers, we are hailed as the same. The adoption agencies ask us to write positive letters as testimonials to the beauty and love in adoption. They ask new birthmothers to speak to high schools and wanting-to-adopt classes. In Adoptionland, we are the unsung heroes that build families and make couples dreams come true.

In contrast, we see the messages that mother who keeps the child that she can ill-afford is considered irresponsible. The mother who needs public assistance is considered a freeloader. The mother who gets pregnant again too soon should “know better how babies are made”. The mother who is too young and unwed should have “thought about the consequences before she spread her legs”.  The single mother raising her children is “breaking the fabric of the American values”.

The message says that placing a child for adoption is smart and loving. However be warned; thinking about placing a child for adoption, even the act of gathering information from an adoption agency, makes you a bad mother.

Enter reality.

If you Consider Adoption, then You are Not Ready to be a Parent

If you haven’t lived it or allowed yourself to be very exposed to cultural views on adoption, and more specifically birthmothers, then I expect that you think I’m often full of baloney. I expect that anyone who has read general comments made by “regular folks” will be nodding their heads in agreement when they read the comments below. These were just a sample of comments pulled from my recent post in the New York Times but I have heard the same message repeated over the years.

“People who are good parents are ready to become parents and make that steadfast decision when they decide to adopt. If you are considering giving your baby up for adoption, perhaps you are not a suitable parent since you’re not convinced.”

“I was born as the result of an unplanned pregnancy to young, lower-income parents. My folks never once considered relinquishing me. They made it work somehow. And I know others who have children under similar circumstances. I think if someone is really, truly ready for a child, they will make it work.”

“But if I let that stop me from being a parent, then I guess I didn’t want to be a parent very much after all.”

These folks didn’t read the ‘Birth Mother Equals Good Mother” handbook. Of course, we can dismiss their opinions as irrelevant and uneducated. We can toss our heads and huff, “Well you don’t know how adoption has changed”, but that would be stupid. It is very important to observe and note how our general society still sees the act of infant surrender. That Adoption Kool-Aid can only provide a certain level of protective force and, eventually, a harsh comment comes through.

What these comments tell us about societal views on birthmothers is:

  • IF a mother choose adoption, then she didn’t really want to parent.
  • IF she allows herself to be convinced, then she is not ready to parent.
  • IF she cannot find a way to make it work and parent, then she doesn’t have the stuff to parent.
  • IF she lets herself be coerced by an adoption agency, then she does not deserve to parent.
  • IF she even CONTACTS an adoption agency, then she must not want her child.

But then she is hailed as a selfless family-building angel. Are you confused by the mixed messages? Me, too.

Now here’s the clincher.; despite all their claims of gratefulness and the pride of the wonderful loving birthmothers, some adoption agencies actually AGREE with the GENERAL POPULATION that if you even consider adoption, then you have lost your right to become a mother.

I often talk about my collection of Adoption Agency Informational booklets. Sometimes, you get better insight with the private information they send to expectant mothers than what they leave online for everyone to see.

One of my favorite things to check out is the FAQs. “What if I change my mind?” Of course, the ability to change one’s mind after signing the relinquishment consent is null and void if you are in a state that has no revocation period such as Massachusetts, Texas or Florida, so we need to look at the procedures for states that do provide for some revocation period in adoption surrenders. You’d be surprised at how many adoption agencies have a clause that states “if you change your mind, we will determine if you have suitable resources and the ability to care for your baby” or some such equal crud. It’s all in the fine print, but well worth checking out.

In the end, it’s a Catch-22. You are a pariah to society if you parent outside the “acceptable” guidelines and you are a lousy mother if you relinquish or even think about doing so.


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About the Author

Claudia Corrigan DArcy
Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy has been online and involved in the adoption community since early in 2001. Blogging since 2005, her website Musings of the Lame has become a much needed road map for many mothers who relinquished, adoptees who long to be heard, and adoptive parents who seek understanding. She is also an activist and avid supporter of Adoptee Rights and fights for nationwide birth certificate access for all adoptees with the Adoptee Rights Coalition. Besides here on Musings of the Lame, her writings on adoption issue have been published in The New York Times, BlogHer, Divine Caroline, Adoption Today Magazine, Adoption Constellation Magazine,, Lost Mothers, Grown in my Heart, Adoption Voice Magazine, and many others. She has been interviewed by Dan Rather, Montel Williams and appeared on Huffington Post regarding adoption as well as presented at various adoption conferences, other radio and print interviews over the years. She resides in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband, Rye, children, and various pets.

2 Comments on "Good Mothers Don’t Even Think About Adoption!"

  1. I also think the truth comes out if a parent tries to stop or revoke an adoption. Before that point, they are selfless and “know” that parenting is a privilege and not a right. Yet if the adoption becomes contested, all of a sudden the aparents are screaming about the rights they received through the adoption! It really shows how much it is all about them and their need to have a family instead of finding a home for a needy child.

  2. I read those comments on your article as well. It is grounding to know that this is how people feel. It’s why they call it a “failed adoption” or a “failed match” because, of course, now the mother who kept her baby has a giant F on her life report card.

    “If you change your mind, we will determine if you have suitable resources and the ability to care for your baby” –THIS sent a rage filled wave of disgust up my spine and out the tips of my toes.

    They really do think that if a mother even contacts an agency they have already given up some of their rights. Eye opening does not even begin to describe what this quote has done. I’m off to go scream profanities into my pillow now.

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