Dear Ms. Feverfew –
Someone found my blog by searching “what should a dear birthmother letter look like.” I am sure previous letters didn’t exactly answer their question, so let me try my hand at it now.
“Dear Birthmother” letters should NOT exist. Period. And I don’t care what agencies, social workers, or internet-famous adoption advocates say about the “importance” of having one on a potential adoptive parent’s cutest-adoption-blog-on-the-block. It’s wrong. It’s distasteful. It’s coercive.
These “Dear Birthmother” letters are the beginning of the grooming process to subtly (and not so subtly) coerce an expectant mother to terminate her parental rights and relinquish her child into the adoption system. Call it “making a plan” or dress it up how ever the adoption industry wants: The end goal and aim of these kinds of letters it to convince an expectant mother to willingly terminate her parental rights and let another woman raise her child.
How do these letters contribute to this, one might ask? We need look no further than the very opening salutation, “Dear Birthmother.” By calling an expectant mother a “birthmother” before she has terminated her parental rights. In doing so, potential adoptive parents exert psychological pressure as they “other” the woman with the “birthmother” prior to the actual termination of parental rights. These letters (and the potential adoptive parents who write them) plant the seeds in a woman’s mind that her role is to “birth” and that is all, thankyouverymuch.
There are many other issues with these kinds of letters, issues which lean towards coercion and questionable ethical behavior on the part of potential adoptive couple, but calling a woman a “birthmother” before she has terminated her parental rights is enough of a problem to warrant some serious introspection on the part of these letter writers.
If a potential adoptive parent is truly intent on having an “ethical” (not sure any adoptions in the US are ethical as so much money changes hands, but that’s another discussion for another time), perhaps they shouldn’t waste the time or effort agonizing over a “Dear Birthmother” letter. Instead, perhaps they should write a letter to a mother who is considering adoption. When they write it, they should be COMPLETELY honest. They should show integrity and not make promises they are willing to keep FOREVER, not just when it is convenient or easy for them. They should promise to do the moral things, not just the legal. They should share what they are willing do to help their shared child overcome the loss of his or her original family and identity, an issue many adoptees struggle with for their ENTIRE lives. They should tell the expectant mother, in great detail, the lengths they are willing to go to ensure their shared child and his first mother maintain a healthy and safe relationship, based in love and respect, not fear and lies. (And yes, this is the job of an adoptive parent in a truly ethical and moral adoption, whether the greater bulk of adoptive parents care to admit it or not. Those with integrity know it and live it.)
Wait, wait, wait…here’s a better idea. Why not skip all that and just tell the expectant mother they are willing to do whatever it takes to help her overcome the perceived barriers to parenting? That they will be the safety net for both her and her newborn babe, instead of just her newborn babe.
Oh. That’s right. If they did that, then the potential adoptive parents won’t get the Grand Prize in the adoption world. The wouldn’t get the healthy womb-fresh infant, still smelling of her mother’s amniotic fluid, handed to them by the very mother who nurtured and sustained that child into being.
And that is what “Dear Birthmother” letters are really all about. Fishing for the Grand Prize in adoption.
Cynical? A bit. A realist? Absolutely. And sometimes REAL isn’t very pretty. This is because my eyes are not blinded by baby lust and covetous behavior, because I am not willing to lie any more, nor am I willing to stand by and support the legalized lies that adoption brings into EVERY SINGLE adopted person’s life in the U.S.