Adding insult to injury

I spent Friday night doing what I haven't done in a long time: blog surfing. I was at it into the wee hours of the night, and found my mind chewing on four posts in particular, so much so that after my PC was shut down and I was tucked in bed, I booted up again, to leave a comment.

There were several posts that showed in bright red bold CAPITAL LETTERS that APs and PAPs can be downright cruel. I'm trying to put my finger on it - is it pure entitlement? deficient preparation? something else? I just don't know. I do know, though, that this cruelty adds insult to the injury that adoption can do, and has to stop.

First, please go read these posts, and be sure to read the comments, because in some cases that's where you'll find what I'm talking about:

Did you read? If so, the theme should be pretty clear: adoptive parent preaching, and verbal abuse and bullying of adoptees and first parents.

And yes, I chose those words abuse and bullying on purpose.

If you've been reading here for awhile, you know this is a hot button for me, as well as topic of a number of posts - the two that best describe how I feel about this are here and here.

The net of those two posts is that adoptive parents aren't the stars of the adoption show. By and large, our experience is marked by gain - a child added to our family, parenting added to our life experience. Adoptees and first parents, on the other hand, can never live adoption without loss. They may find ways to keep it from derailing them, but it's never gone from their lives.

At any rate, the posts and comments I found this weekend demonstrate a pattern of verbal and emotional insult that have become rampant in the online adoption world, and maybe in some real-life adoption communities as well. The trend is disturbing.

Let's start with the preaching, shall we?

We live in a country that guarantees religious freedom for our citizens. Whatever faith you choose to follow and how deeply you choose to follow it is your personal decision. It should be a private matter, but in our increasingly religiously-charged world, plenty of people think it's perfectly OK to share their beliefs uninvited.

With the "Christian adoption movement" (which makes the, in my opinion, unreasoned case that since there are references to God's adoption of humanity in the Bible, we are all called to adopt children) I'm seeing a lot more overt religion in online adoption dialog. It scares me at the best of times, because I personally believe this notion is way off the theological mark. It's one thing for religious organizations to encourage their members to adopt children truly in need; everyone should have a care for others. But it's another thing entirely for them to try to make the case that God had anything like current adoption practices in mind when He inspired the scriptural passages that speak to huiothesia, the Greek word often translated as "adoption."

Add the Bible's judgment of sex outside of marriage to the belief that you've been "called to adopt," throw in some bad manners, and you've got the perfect recipe for an AP bully pulpit that is increasingly out of control. I don't know where adoptive parents get the idea that they have the right to inform unmarried first parents of their "sinfulness," to judge them, or to offer to save their souls. We have no such right - none whatsoever.

Now on to the bullying.

Language is powerful. It can wound as deeply as any knife, and when used to harm, can drive people to dispair and even suicide. Words can trigger wonderful memories and bad ones. Nowhere is this truer than in the adoption world.

It is simply not OK for ANY adoptive parent or would-be AP to resort to terms like "breeder" or (my jaw is still on the floor with this one) "brood sow" or "uterus" or any other such words to label first mothers. It's cruel, it's wrong, and frankly I'm sick of seeing it.

What utterly shocks me is the fact that you can find APs using this kind of language publicly and with impunity. Do they stop to think of what their child's mother might think if they saw it? Or their child? Worse still, maybe they don't care. I honestly don't get what any AP could possibly think makes this acceptable. No heated dialog, no difference of opinion, nothing justifies it.

Please, everyone, when you see this going on, stand up and say something. We need to send the message loud and clear that adoptive parent preaching and bullying are wrong.


Mei Ling said…
Let's say Person A is not adopted and uses the term "birthmother." Person B is an adoptee and tells Person A about the negative implications, using professional resources to explain the derogatory aspects of the term "birthmother."

What does one say - or should one say anything? - if Person A does not *mean* to be derogatory, even if the term in itself is implied as such?
Margie said…
Hi, Mei Ling, my take is that in a situation like that, it's absolutely appropriate to point out the negative implications. I've been in this situation, and what I typically do is respond using a term that's less derogatory (I use first parent most often, but some first parents prefer others, like natural parent or original parent) with a brief statement to the effect of "I've learned from mothers and fathers who have lost children to adoption that the term 'birthparent' is offensive to them, so I use the term "first parent" instead."

Now, if the individual continues and even says they're going to continue to use the term "birthparent" because they don't care what the consequences are, then I would simply let them know that I feel their choice is inappropriate. I suspect a person with that mindset wouldn't take anything away from my point of view, but at least I would have tried.

Hope this makes sense
Anonymous said…
The child and his/her natural parents are all objectified by the adoption process and the industry. Taking possession of a life and having that person's biological identity erased and giving him/her a new name and magically new "parents" on a birth certificate is a de-humanizing.

As for AP's and PAP's who have no regard for the feelings of adoptees and natural parents and refer to them derogatorily? It seems full psychological exams would have weeded them out if they were mandated in the adoption process. Psychopaths can easily pass "Home Studies".

Mei Ling...I'm an adoptee and I use "birthmother, birthfather" when talking to people outside the adoption triad because most don't understand "natural or first" parent terminology and it's exhausting to explain it all the time.

Inside the adoption community, I do use first or natural mother or just simply mother to describe my biological mom. My adoptive mom is deceased, but I also refer to her as Mom and sometimes "adoptive mother" to differentiate between the two of them.

Marg-Thank you for speaking on this. You ROCK!!!
Jenna said…
You'll pardon me if I don't read those posts. I hear it enough, that I'm less than adoptive parents and won't ever be a good mother. These people know nothing of my story, my journey, that we supposedly share the same God but certainly not the same faith. I am so tired of being cut off and told that it is all my fault because I'm a whore. If that was remotely the truth, I'd accept it.
Margie said…
(((((((Jenna!!))))))) I know you have experienced what I'm talking about and probably worse from some of the jerks out there - it's just plain wrong. I hope this post wakes a few folks up.

Anon, I LOVE this: Psychopaths can easily pass "Home Studies". And it's true.
Jenna said…
My comment got cut off in the car, so I came back to finish!

"I am so tired of being cut off and told that it is all my fault because I'm a whore. If that was remotely the truth, I'd accept it."

I went on to say, "Accepting a part of my story (if I had been whoring around, which I wasn't) doesn't mean that I am not worth of grace, forgiveness and compassion from other human beings. More over, these are the same groupings of people that will cut down a woman who considers abortion. They will berate a single mother. And they will bully birth mothers. You can't win with these people.

And I'm tired of it.

(Or some variation thereof since I can't remember exactly what I typed out on that little keyboard! HA!)
Christina said…
Hi Margie...So glad you stopped by and began commenting on my blog :) And I appreciate the link love here.
osolomama said…
Ye-ah! Ye-ah! Ye-ah!

I can't think of anything else to say.
a Tonggu Momma said…
Amen. I am amazed at some of the people who call themselves Christian. It's embarrassing.
Myst said…
Hi Margie,

Wow, I just want to say a huge thank you for being a compassionate human being! You DO exist!! I am not implying all adoptive parents are not compassionate by the way :) I have had the chance to meet a few through my blog and now you...

Thank you for the understanding you have recently shown in your comments on my blog and now here in your post... it means alot to have someone just understand...

Anonymous said…
Thank You! That is pretty much all I can say tonight because I am in that deep dark bad place. It does mean a lot when people stand up for us

Aislin (who isn't in the mood to sign into her blog tonight)
Margie said…
Christine, Myst, Aislin: Thank you for leaving your comments, I really appreciate it. And I apologize for what you all, and many other mothers and adoptees, have experienced at the hands of cruel, rude PAPs and APs.

Christine and Myst, I hope linking was OK - I really felt it was important for others to see what's going on out here in adoption internet land. And I'm glad to have found your blogs.

Aislin, I've had you in my reader for a long time, but I don't think I've ever commented, or if so, not often. I'm very glad you added your thoughts. Thanks!
Christina said…
Linking was absolutely okay. I am very honored that you found my words linkworthy! I'm looking forward to reading more from you as well. :)
maryanne said…
To get back to Mei Ling and the word "birthmother", I am a birthmother and the term is not insulting to me.I have been using it for years, have been active in adoption reform since the 70s, and will continue to use it. I do not care if others prefer "first" or "natural" or some other prefix to differentiate which mother they are talking about. I do not correct others of good will, and do not appreciate them correcting or lecturing me about politically correct terminology.

To me it is not the same as calling a mother a breeder, a breed sow, a uterus or a c--t. It is a little better than biological mother, but I do not take offense at the one either.

What I think is most important is the intent. Some words that are universally seen as insulting leave the intent clear; to belittle or insult. Other terms are more ambiguous and mean different things to different people. Sometimes correcting a well-meaning person's choice of words is just rude, and stops any meaningful discussion with that person.
kantmakm said…
Margie - Thank you for speaking to this issue. The sense of entitlement and obligation to "save" children by a fringe vocal minority of APs/PAPs does cast a shameful pall and it is important to point it out. Being a good parent, even a good person, requires empathy - if an AP cannot be empathetic with their child and with their child's natural parents, I deeply question their fitness to parent.
John Byrnes said…
“Bullying” is a topic that is on the hearts and minds of individuals in position of responsibility whether in the workplace or our schools. With the most recent incident where a young 15 year old girl hangs herself due to what is described as “relentless bullying” and by prosecutors as statutory rape has gone well beyond the parameters of “bullying.”

It is only when we realize that this bullying behavior is “intent-driven aggressive behavior;” that there is a Continuum of Aggression, of which Bullying is an element, that we can actually prevent bullying. Through this continuum we can learn the “precursors” to bullying, and through this understand and application we can actually prevent and stop this culture of bullying. Until we learn the Continuum of Aggression we are relegated to reacting to bullying, not preventing it.

I am writing the definitive book on “preventing bullying,” and I need your help. I will illustrate how “bullying” is an element on the Continuum of Aggression and through this continuum we can foresee the precursors of bullying and therefore can prevent bullying and stop bullying behavior. However, I need as many examples of bullying as possible. I would like to read about any accounts of bullying you have experienced or observed, whether in the workplace or in education. I would particularly like to understand how you responded to this bullying and how and why it worked or didn’t work? Please go the my blog and share your account. In return, I would share excepts of the unique approach for your review and comment. My blog is located at
Yoli said…
Margie thank you for this post. You and MamaD are a beacon of light in blogland. I read the links and I thought, this is yet another wave of adoptees who will suffer like the ones before them. We cannot stand silent in this onslaught, innocent lives are affected by this mindset.
Raina said…
Oh geez. This just makes me feel tired and sad. It's exhausting - as a former orphan, adult adoptee, adoptive parent, and "breeder". And the disrespect towards birthmothers is appalling. I agree - any culture that equates love with relinquishment is destroying its own families. Margie, it's good to hear your voice again.
Margie, I'll be off to read the links as soon as I'm done with this, but have to say I'm shocked...shouldn't be, but am. I just can't imagine. I'll be posting about a letter I was recently asked to write to the ministry in Korea for another family that gives a short summary of the loss for our kids. I just can't imagine just thinking of my children's Korean mothers as something like these awful words. I do dread the convos that may come up with us having siblings and do not intend to discuss with anyone who thinks negatively of my children's Korean mothers. They have no idea what these women sacrificed. Neither do I, but never would they ever deserve a horrible adjective to describe what they did.

DENISE said…

I read your post and my finger hovered over the clicker to go to those links. But I couldn't do it. I believe you. Don't need any more proof of the disrespect exhibited these days.

Having not read those posts, I still must say that I think our society in general has become more and more adversarial than it's ever been. This group against the other. Whose rights are more worthy. And not just as regards adoption.

Not a good path and I honestly don't know how we're going to correct it.
I laugh at my sinfulness - ha!ha!

But I never laugh about adoption and its fallout and some of it's followers. Like the "Christian" adoption movement.

I just set up a Twitter account for my blog because I'm going to a conference and I want to tweet about it.

On my first and only tweet thus far I added the hashmark #adoption and then I went and looked. My lord Jesus was everywhere. I wonder how He feels about it. I hope He's unhappy. I believe He would be.

And Margie - you are on a roll - such great posts - fantastic.


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