Who Really Has the Right to Judge Birth Mothers??

Judgement. Choices. Lack of True Choice.
Variations of this theme have been running through my head for a long time.

To some the birth mother is a saintly figure.

Wise. Sacrificing. Selfless. A builder of Families. A deliverer of dreams come true. Adoptive families want to thank her. Poor girl, she is just in a sad situation, but through her wisdom she can make the best of the situation and all will be better off. That is, as long as she stays in the box where her title decrees she stays.

Often the birth mother is the slut, the whore, the one who caused her own lot in life to begin with by spreading her legs and being irresponsible.

How hard is it, they ask, to know that having sex causes pregnancy? Stupid girl isn’t smart enough to care for a child.So selfish, she is, by only thinking of her own pleasure and not planning for her future.

After all, all the evils in this world are caused by the single unwed, mother.

Every Birth mother I have ever met has reported of the amazingly insane stereotypes and statements that were thrown at them by both friends and foes, in all sincerity and hate.

You know how it plays out. You are at that point in a conversation with some one, it could even actually BE about adoption, and you think this person has the ability to “get it” somehow, or maybe you are just side swiped by something thrown out in midair, but out of no where they throw out some super loaded statement and, no, you cannot catch it and volley; it’s such an atrocious hing that you have to physically step back. And it hangs there for a quick second, time stands still and you both realize the sudden awkwardness, but it’s to late.

And it falls; this awkward phrase, this stereotypical repetition of something you know to be generated and propagated by some profit through adoption corporation like Gladney or Bethany or the National Council for Adoption, this pure rush of hate and judgement, this snide underhanded comment that might sound like a compliment and you might even say thank you and mean it until a second later when it hits you, this pure ignorant banter that shows such a true lack of uncaring – it smacks down hard in the middle of the floor. And stands between you two like a sudden new Great Wall.

This Judgement is not, purely, in Adoption.

I think women are very judgemental of other women.

I think that by nature we are more libel to actually empathize with the horror of a mother and child being separated . I mean, if you have a child, or even if you can just imagine having a child and then imagining that you HAD to be separated from that child. And think about how you would feel. You don’t have to go far into it and you feel pretty freaking awful. Luckily, you are only imagining so you can stop feeling this way. Because that is all you want to do is to stop feeling this way. That’s a natural reaction.

So really, yuck. Who wants to actually have to think about the birth mothers as real. It’s easier that way, to differentiate ourselves from someone who truly suffers for something that on many levels is not necessary, is practiced unethically, essentially trades the parental rights of children for huge profits in “fees”, has poorly defined risks, is riddled with false advertising and is based on a legal system that forges documents of lies and calls it legal. When you actually think about it, really try to wrap your arms about what it actually means to live the life of a birth mother, no, most will not be able to do it.
Wait, let me rephrase it. I think most be COULD do it, but they either don’t want to or they have just never ever even for one second thought about us like that. I mean none of us what to think about feeling like that. I know there are many times, that I have trouble imagining what it is , what it feels like..and I lived it. I do live it. I am a birth mother and I am horrified by feeling too much and have to remind myself that I know, I am living it. The desire to dissociate is so very strong.

I don’t want it to be real. I don’t want this to BE my life.
But it is and all I can do is live it.


But getting back to really thinking about it and how that turns into judgement…, adoption has some pretty bad practices currently occurring, expected and sanctioned by general society. And that hard stuff to recognize and realize that you are basically powerless against. It’s like the light bulb going off and hitting the brick wall all at once. Blink!BAM! I could quote my favorite Al Gorism:

“There are good people…who hold this at arms length for if they acknowledge it and recognize it, then the moral imperative to make big changes is inescapable”

So, women.. they really don’t want to think about how it might feel to lose your child.. coz then you have to think of ways that you truly might lose your child and really, it’s horrifying to think about, even for a second, we just don’t want to. No one does. It feel really wrong. Who even wants to be reminded of the possibility?

These women, these unwed girls, this slut, that whore, this child, the selfless; they are not like all the other women. They have to be separated out. Something, whether it be up bringing, or education, or money, or location, or social status, or looks, or choices, or drugs, or character; there is something that these people, these women, who suffered such a loss, must have done to bring this thing upon themselves. They cannot be on the same playing field as every one else or else the reality is that it could happen to you.
I was looking for the quote, and found it with lyrics that fit…

“….Lost was the child, we all once did hide

There for the Grace Of God Go I”

It’s so much easier to judge something that is utterly foreign to us. Well generated propaganda can conspire to keep suspiciouns aroused and provide fodder for the masses. It provides someone to point a finger at. Plus we are more likely to accept even poorly placated sugar coated candy crap if the alternative is to feel pretty yucky and worried about our own children.

I think it’s tough to really care about someone who is going though a difficult time or does something that you feel is internally wrong and not judge them.

We want to judge because it insulates us from other’s failings and misfortunes.

We can’t help but to see ourselves in other’s shoes and compassion is a hard thing to manage and multi task this day and age. So we avoid it all together and drink the Koolaide. We don’t have to feel for them because they are not one of us.
So we make them different.

I saw this act play out outside adoption in real life to mutual friends of mine. Friends for over twenty years and one friend had been going through a very rough time. In the end, the situation played out in a way that was sad and not perfect for all, but at least had come to some kind of closure.
A blamed B for her supposed “choices” which caused the unhappy ending. B knew had happened and she knew how it effected all, it wasn’t like she needed someone else to state the obvious. A seemed to think that B really had a choice and took some lazy or selfish turn when she had the ability to take another.
And the friendship suffer for this judgement.
A acted as if B really had a choice.
She didn’t.
It was either break up a “perfect” family or die.
She did the unthinkable, she did something insane and foolish, she mad situations uncomfortable, and conflicting emotions; this action affected others and caused us all to feel, much like a death, much as a loss.
But I saw how she struggled. How torn. And while I am not her, and I have never worn her shoes ( well that’s a lie, I have physically WORN her actual shoes) I know that this was not a light hearted quick decision. It really, almost killed her.
It was not a real choice. It was life or death.

But we are quick to judge. Even among friends who should be understanding, having known you, having seen your character over time. We separate from their action so we can assure ourselves that this terrible bad thing will never happen in our own lives and we won’t ever have to feel like them.

So, Irresponsible slut or Saintly family builder. Take a pick. End of story.


Of course, that’s not the case at all.
We can list every birth mother known online and I don’t think many of us would fall under either stereotype. Some might, but I am betting that it would be the same rations as the general population. The natural bell curve of human nature if you could imagine, please.
Of course, during my pregnancy with Max there were times when I felt lie a slut and times that I felt like a saint and sometimes the two feelings co-existed and conflicted at the same time when all I wanted to do was feel like a mother, but that neither here nor there.

What kind of women gives up her child to adoption anyway?

Overall, the truth be told is that the great majority of women who do end up relinquishing are, egagds, just like everyone else. We don’t have horns, our DNA is not missing the mom strand since birth, we don’t wear the Scarlett letter, and I have neither stigmata nor a crack pipe.
I could generalize and say that without a doubt, every mother that you know who has lost a child to adoption was caught up in a bad place at a bad time and found themselves feeling powerless and unable to wade against the tide. And that she either fought with all her available resources against it or she was somehow convinced that it was the best thing for her child, but in her soul DID NOT WANT TO DO IT even if she managed to convince herself otherwise.

I’m very comfortable believing that.

I know it to be true of myself and I have heard that same loosely woven and similar version of our birth mother stories again and again. It the theme.

What is different are the individual situations. Where they were in their life when this happened. This pregnancy. And that’s just Joe normal stuff. College, working, just moved, at home, high school, first apartment; regular stuff that we all experience as part of life.

Bottom line, it’s not that hard to be THAT women who places her child for adoption.

Same places in life as you. Same stories.
No one is immune from them. I mean really, think about it for a second…have you ever had too much to drink, suddenly realize that you were in a bad situation, out yourself in danger, make a stupid choice, make a bad decision, trust someone you should have, believed in something foolish, been taken in and played, drank too much? How about been raped, jumped, mugged, beaten, drugged, molested, abused, discriminated, tricked, deceived, cheated, ignored, lied to? Have you ever had the condom break? Forget to take the pill? Lied about it? Give in to the moment?

Just one of the above. Just one instance, one time. That’s all that stands between you and I. Just one single instance. One poor seemingly innocent choice, one falter, once misstep, one broken condom, one wile sperm and that’s it, it all plays out. Are you innocent of everything listed above in every single instance in your life?

I just do not think that anyone who has ever had sex outside of marriage has the right to judge birth mothers.

There, I said it. If you have ever had sex, just once, even just a little bit, and you were not married to your partner, then SHUT UP. Because you know what? Even that’s all that makes us different and I the birth mother is that I got pregnant and you didn’t. Unless you have lived a true perfect and saintly existence then you have no right to judge what you would have done in my situation because you were not in my situation. You were in your situation in your life where you, by some luck of the dice, did not get pregnant.
You’re not a better person because your birth control worked and mine failed. Not if you partook of the forbidden fruit yourself because if you did, then no matter how much you try to make your self separated from me and my kind, you are just as guilty as the same sins.

And that’s all it is. Statistical failure in humans and birth control. Neither is perfect. You can’t judge me for taking the hit. Someone had to do it. My sponge failed. That wasn’t my plan. End of Story. Now you don’t get to villify me to make yourself feel good and secure. Nope.

Face it. I am not that different than you.

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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, Adopt-a-tude.com, 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.

14 Comments on "Who Really Has the Right to Judge Birth Mothers??"

  1. great post. Alludes to much of my own thoughts and writings on how mothers like us are dehumanized and why it is done. if you havent, consider reading _the lucifer effect_. you would like it. another good one is _mistakes were made but not by me_.

    The two combined speak volumes to why people treat us like they do.


  2. love it Claud…glad you wrote on your own blog today. I love the sex before marriage SHUT UP…as one who had sex um…errr…young…I think I could have been a slut had I know then that I would not get pregnant. Not really but it is interesting to look back at those years with the knowledge I have now…a lot of that I have you to thank for.

  3. Kick ass post, Claud. And you know what? Nowhere do I find more similiarity in this judgment than in the way people talk about women and rape or domestic violence. For the same exact reason – if you acknowledge how much alike you are with any woman who’s in a DV situation or a rape survivor, you’re forced to confront the fact that the violence could easily happen to you.

  4. But I want to say one more thing, on the basis of your statement about how you have “neither stigmata nor a crackpipe”…

    The same judgments and de-humanizations people visit upon birthmothers extends to the woman who lives with addiction. She is another person who could be any of us, especially any of us who have ever experimented with drugs. So often I read on first/birth mother blogs comment like “I AM NOT A CRACK WHORE!” — and while I understand that moms are speaking out against a hurtful stereotype, it makes me wince every. single. time. Because there are women in my life, good women, who struggle every day to get clean or stay clean. And they too are no different than you or I, and There But For the Grace of God applies to them too.

    Just putting that out there, since you provided such great context. Thanks!

  5. “I think I could have been a slut had I know then that I would not get pregnant.”
    I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here.
    Please elucidate.

  6. Whew.. well I am glad that this ramble was understood.. I felt like I was all over the place and was wondering if anyone might atually get to the end!

    Kippa.. I think what Boys is saying..and correctme if I am wrong.. she WOULD have acted much more like a slut IF the fear of becoming pregnant hadn’t held her in check.
    Fear = behavoral control…and overoad a natural pehant for the sex…

  7. Yeah, still though. slut?

  8. I dunno, I think sluts are like Santa Claus they don’t really exist.

    Having a perjorative for a woman’s sexuality however she wants to express it is well not okay.

  9. This is an awesome post.

  10. You know what’s sad? Even when someone HAS been through this stuff they will still judge you.

    The woman who adopted my son rather than let me have him back, had her son (my ex-husband) taken from her under similar circumstances. Didn’t give her one shred of empathy for me, though. Maybe she thought she was getting even with the universe.

    I had another situation where I was in bad straits with my little girl’s dad and this woman gave me nine shades of shit over it–but her ex had abused her, I mean out and out hit her (I have yet to be in a relationship like that, knock on wood) and her son saw his dad do that to his mom and she still didn’t leave, not for a long time, but she didn’t have a shred of empathy for me either.

    The ones most likely to be judgmental of the poor are those who started out poor and “worked their way up.” Screw you, I got mine, there must be something wrong with you if you didn’t live your life exactly the same way.

    It’d be interesting and instructive to look into the backgrounds and current circumstances of every person who passes judgment about stuff like this.

  11. Hi Dana,

    Yep.. we are the harshest judges of each other…
    Personally I think it is becasue we see how very close the same situation can be applied, and so, becasue it scares us to death, we have to find a was to make the “other woman” different.

    It’s wrong, but it ..as you know.. to damn true. I’m sorry you have to feel it too.

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