I read a blog post by Dawn Davenport over at Creating A Family talking about perspective adoptive parents referring to themselves as expecting, and how this is sometimes seen negatively from the perspective of birth moms. The blog post referred to comments made by a birth mother’s blog called Monica’s Musings. I understood the birth mother to say that adoptive mothers calling themselves “expectant” was presumptuous, and puts undue focus on the adoptive parent. She goes on to say this is a problem because we should only be focused on the child, and adoptive parents are making a huge assumption that the birth mother won’t exercise her right change her mind after birth.
Now, I usually stay out of these types of debates. I am not a birth mother, nor have I ever faced infertility. I have been blessed with three biological children, and am now being blessed with the opportunity to become a mother through adoption. For some reason this particular issue didn’t sit we’ll with me. After much thought I think I know why.
First, it is true that adoption outcomes are tenuous by nature, but so is any pregnancy. All pathways to parenting are uncertain. Just ask one of the thousands of heartbroken mothers who have endured delivering a still born baby, or who’s baby died shortly after birth. With each of my three pregnancies I held my breath every time a doctor looked for a heart beat because I knew there was no guaranty of a happy outcome. I am similarly acutely await that there are a number of factors that could tear our hopes of adopting from China in two.
Second, for many parents pregnancy is an exciting time filled with joy and anticipation. Women chatter excitedly about nursery themes, baby names, and showers. Moms, and other family members, begin preparing their hearts and homes for the new arrival. Having had the experience three times, and now “expecting” our fourth child through adoption I can say the two are not that dissimilar. I have proudly showed my future son’s picture to everyone who’ll listen just like I did with my sonogram pictures. I have traded reading baby books for reading about adopting older kids, and blended families. I am preparing his room, and making arraignments for my other children while we are in China. I am no less excited, hopeful, overwhelmed, nervous, or prayerful growing our family through adoption as i was with the births of our biological children. By referring to themselves as “expecting” I think adoptive moms are just trying to share in the feelings of joy and excitement while preparing to become parents. This is especially true if a woman has faced infertility. Not allowing an adoptive mom to say she is ” expecting” diminishes her experience, and implies that adoption is a lesser means of becoming a parent. This seems somewhat disingenuous, and slightly mean spirited.
I get that adoption is fraught with loss, and difficult choices on the part of BOTH parties involved. I think that maybe instead of worrying about the vernacular used by someone else to describe their experience we should focus on resolving the individual issues we face.