If you’re an adoptive family, there are many different ways to share the exciting news that you’re adopting with your friends and family. One term that you might have heard used in the adoption community by other adoptive families is “paper pregnancy.” In today’s post, we’ll go over all you need to know about this term, why the movement is so important to some adoptive families, and some things to consider before you use it.

What is a “Paper Pregnancy?”

Woman havinbg herat shape on lower stocmach“Paper pregnancy” is a term used by adoptive families to signify that they are in the final stages of the adoption process and have filed all the paperwork needed to finally become a family. At this stage, the adoptive family is officially ready and waiting to meet their child — similar to how an expectant mother might feel during her pregnancy. Using the term paper pregnancy gives an adoptive family another new way to announce that they’re “expecting” like traditional new parents.

In addition, the “paper pregnancy” is a busy time and transition period for the adoptive family, the same way it is for a traditional family. They’ll be getting the nursery prepared, making a checklist of everything that they’ll need, and more. The term “paper pregnancy” can be just another opportunity to show just how excited they are for the newest member of their family.

Why Paper Pregnancies are Important to Hopeful Parents

The time before a child joins a family is important — including in an adoption. The adoption process itself is a demanding experience, and not just anyone can adopt a child. It’s not easy to meet your state requirements and all of the demands of your home study. And, depending on which type of agency the adoptive family is using, it could take up to a year or even longer to welcome a child into their home.

So it’s clear why approaching the home stretch when the wait to become parents will finally pay off is an exciting moment for every new family. They may not be experiencing a physical pregnancy, but getting ready for parenthood is still a stressful endeavor for hopeful adoptive parents. That’s why any adoption announcement is something to celebrate, and the term “paper pregnancy” helps some adoptive families do that.

Adoption has its ups and downs — but the wait is always well worth it. For an adoptive family, finally having a term that describes the transition period that they’re in can be extremely helpful when they’re explaining their situation to friends and family. Using the term paper pregnancy also helps describe the joy and excitement that the adoptive parents feel after waiting so long to become a family.

Debates on Paper Pregnancy

Although “paper pregnancy” has gained traction and is used by many adoptive families with good intentions, there are plenty who find the term offensive. One of the biggest arguments against the term “paper pregnancy” is that it invalidates a prospective birth mother’s experiences. She is the one who is physically carrying the child, along with the all of the struggles that come with it, so having the adoptive family refer to their experience as a paper pregnancy can rub some the wrong way.

Many also feel that the term tries to imply that “adoption” and “pregnancy” are the same thing, which dismisses the birth mother’s experience entirely — almost as if her experience carrying the child didn’t exist.  To them, the term “paper pregnancy” should not be used in any circumstances.

If you are connected with a prospective birth mother already, this is a good time to get her perspective on the term so as not to unintentionally offend anyone. It’s important to respect her feelings if she would prefer that you don’t use the term at all. For families that are wondering about better terms to use in their adoption announcements, simple phrases like “we’re matched” or “we’ve been chosen” still focus on the prospective birth mother’s experience while not taking away the adoptive family’s excitement. Language is a powerful tool, especially in adoption, and it can sometimes have unintended consequences.

Paper Pregnancy and Your Adoption

All adoption relationships require open communication. If you’re thinking of using this term, it’s a good idea to get a perspective from a birth mother or an adoption specialist before you start using it. If you have any questions about paper pregnancies or other ways to announce your adoption, talk to your adoption specialist for ideas.