A Word About Words

I’ve been looking at other adoption/birthmother blogs and general adoption sites on the internet.

There is no consensus among birthmothers about what we want to be called.  Some of us think the word “birthmother” is derogatory and implies being used as a breeder.  The word birthmother is sometimes a hyphenate, sometimes a compound word.  I like the word birthmother in its run-on one word fashion. There’s something headlong about it that describes my personal experience–the I can’t believe this is happening, but it is happening and there’s no way I can stop it or change it. Birthmother seems appropriate for other reasons, too. I gave birth to my son. I’m his mother–even if he has an adoptive mother whom he thinks of as more-his-mother than me. The other terms out there include bio-mother or biological mother, first mother, exiled mother. I desire no squabble with any woman who has had a child and relinquished it for adoption–let her call herself by the name she prefers and let us not divide ourselves from one another.
The word “relinquish” interests me.  It was the word used by my social worker in 1970 as I prepared to give up my son and it’s in common parlance today as well. I use it, but I would like to break myself of the habit.
Relinquish according to Webster means to withdraw from, to retreat from, leave behind or give up–and here’s the part that pisses me off.  It “usually does not imply strong feeling but may suggest some regret, reluctance, or weakness.”  I wonder if adoption professionals got together and handpicked this word.  I find it far more insulting than “birthmother” or any of its alternatives.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.