Many hopeful adoptive parents wonder what birth mothers are like. They worry about speaking with a birth mother on the phone because they don’t know what to expect. How old are most birth mothers? Why are they choosing adoption? Are they married or single? What’s their background like? Is there such a thing as a “typical birth mother?” Join Lifetime as we share the answers to these commonly-asked questions, and more! There are a lot of adoption myths circulating out there about birth moms. The stereotypical birth mother is in her teens and dropped out of school once she found out she was pregnant. She has no job skills and since her parents kicked her out. So, she has to go on welfare. But the reality is, most birth mothers don’t fit into this mold.
Some birth parents are young adults who are still completing their education, and their current life situation isn’t favorable for good parenting. Most aren’t financially (or emotionally) prepared to parent. Most are choosing to make an adoption plan because of their intense love for their baby or child. Many are seeking a two-parent home for their child, something that they can’t provide at this point in their lives. Some birth parents are married, but can’t care for more children than they already have. For a struggling family, the adoption decision can be heart-wrenching and difficult, especially for a couple whose relationship is strained to a near-breaking point already.
The decision to place a child for adoption is a very difficult one, often made because the birth mother loves her child. She often could have chosen to get an abortion. But, because she loves her baby and values the life of her baby, she has decided adoption is best.
Some birth mothers are on state or financial aid and feel that they can’t adequately provide for this baby. But, there are also birth mothers from middle-class backgrounds. They may be in college, already have children, or may live with their parents. Often, birth parents feel like they’re getting by but just can’t provide for one more child in addition to all they’re already doing.
It’s an adoption myth that birth mothers have no education and no job skills. Birth mothers may be going to school, already have a college degree, or have a stable career. Most all have graduated high school and have held jobs. It’s been said that women who decide to make an adoption plan are likely to have greater educational and career goals for themselves than those who choose to parent. Also, those who placed children for adoption are more likely to complete school, be employed, and less likely to be on government assistance.*
So what’s a typical birth mother like?
A typical birth mother is parenting other children, is in her 20’s or 30’s, and wants a better life for her child than what she can provide. She may have a man in her life, but he’s probably not taking the role of a father to her kids. She knows that adoption is a difficult choice, but she knows it is the best decision for this child. She knows that even though on-going contact may be painful, it’s best for her child to know his or her adoption story. Plus, she needs the reassurance that her child is growing up happy, healthy, and with the family that she selected for him or her.
*Source: The Institute for Adoption Information, Inc.’s “An Educator’s Guide to Adoption.”
As the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Lifetime Adoption, Heather Featherston holds an MBA and is passionate about working with those facing adoption, pregnancy, and parenting issues. Heather has conducted training for birth parent advocates, spoken to professional groups, and has appeared on television and radio to discuss the multiple aspects of adoption. She has provided one-on-one support to women and hopeful adoptive parents working through adoption decisions.
Since 2002, she has been helping pregnant women and others in crisis to learn more about adoption. Heather also trains and speaks nationwide to pregnancy clinics to effectively meet the needs of women who want to explore adoption for their child. Today, she continues to address the concerns women have about adoption and supports the needs of women who choose adoption for their child.
As a published author of the book Called to Adoption, Featherston loves to see God’s hand at work every day as she helps children and families come together through adoption.