The Myth of Birth Mothers as a Hot Mess: Debunked

5 years ago

I am a birth mother. Most of you know this, but if you don't: I had a child when I was 15 and placed my daughter with an adoptive family. She will be 16 this November.

There is a re-occurring theme for birth mothers that, quite frankly, is exhausting and just a tad infuriating. And that theme is: all birth mothers are a hot mess.


This hot messness can delve into two main topics: addicted and poor. Or a combination of the two. Sure, there are more but we will only focus on these two because they are the most common themes perpetuated wherever you find a mention of a birth mother.

It's not an exaggeration to say that birth mothers only garner a mention in adoption stories.

It's a rarity to 1) find a birth mother, 2) hear her, 3) not have her portrayed as a woman ravaged by addiction and poverty, 4) find an adoption story that doesn't spew rainbows, white fences and means. If perfection lives, it resides with the narrative created by the adoption industry for adoptive families.

I am here to tell you that I am a birth mother and I was never a hot mess.

I was young, yes, but addicted and down-and-out poor I was not. My daughter, had I not relinquished rights, would have been amply provided for by her birth father's wealthy family. In fact, I was a member of my high school's student council and an Honors student. I have never had an addiction problem unless you count cheeseburgers, and I have a college degree.

I am intelligent, educated, and creative. While no one would ever hire me to be a financial planner, this is due to a lack of opportunity not for lack of trying. I have a nine-year-old now, and I have been with the same man for more than a decade. You know, just in case you were wondering if I ever turned tricks.

I don't. And haven't.

Last weekend I heard a woman speak about her adoption story and I cringed. Her birth mother was addicted and "lived a hard life" and the woman tried desperately to "not be her."

Hey, I don't want to be my mother either, so I get it. I also do not want to attack anyone's personal and unique experience, but it felt like more of the same vilification. Because it was.

Here is the truth about adoption: it sucks. I am not going to sugar coat anything. The adoptive parents are not gods and the birth parents are not messed up assholes who couldn't get it together. It's more complicated than that, but you can't put "adoption is a spectrum of good, bad, ugly and indifferent" on an 8 x 11 family profile or within a scrapbook or sell it to whoever is buying.

And within that spectrum there are horrible people who should never, ever be parents.

Adoption is more than marketing. Or PR. Or Teen Mom.

More than white fences and perfection and addiction, honor roll, scrapbooks and smiling two-parent families. Adoption is real people with real issues. Which makes it just like life. No better, no worse.

With that being said, birth mothers are not a monolithic group of Hot Mess.


Photo Credit: vocabulicious.

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