Those who know someone who’s placed a child for adoption know what that adoption is both an immense gift and sacrifice. The decision to place a child for adoption is never one that is made lightly, and it’s always because an expectant mother believes it’s in the best interest of her child.

Fortunately, most people recognize the incredible love that birth moms have for their children, and treat them with the respect that they deserve.

But there are some people who have never been touched by adoption who don’t understand the journeys of birth moms. These are the people who say hurtful things to birth parents like, “I could never give my baby away!” Or, “So you’re just going to give up and put him/her up for adoption?”

People shame birth moms for being “tricked” into the decision that they carefully and thoughtfully made, and they give unsolicited opinions or criticism regarding a birth mother’s adoption decision. This is especially prevalent when it’s so easy to hide behind a keyboard on social media.

You can speak out against birth mom shaming, and offer your support. Here’s what you can do:

If You’re a Birth Parent

You’re never under any obligation to share your story if you don’t want to, or if sharing details of your story might put you or your child and their family in an uncomfortable situation for some reason. There are many reasons why you might feel the need to stay silent about your status as a birth mom.

Fear of judgment for your decision to place a child for adoption, however, should never be one of those reasons. Unfortunately, there are plenty of people who still remain ignorant about adoption and birth parents. They don’t understand the weight of an adoption decision, nor do they understand the love and loss that is part of adoption. Because of their ignorance, people still make hurtful comments towards birth moms, or pass judgment on their decision.

If you’re open about your experiences with adoption…

Sometimes sharing your story with others can be a good way to open their eyes to the positive realities of adoption, and it can show them that birth moms are people that they know and love. Be sure to honor the privacy of your child and their family when sharing your experiences, and remember that you never have to share your story unless you’re comfortable doing so.

Try to respond with kindness, even when others have spoken to you unfairly. It can go a long way towards changing a person’s perception of birth moms.

If you need to stay silent about your experiences with adoption…

Lean on your emotional support team. It can be frustrating to face criticism silently, so if you have someone you can talk to about it, reach out. Talk to an adoption specialist, friends or family, a support group of other birth moms, or a counselor.

Remember that you’re not alone. You deserve love and support, and it’s always ok to reach out if you need to talk to someone.

If You’re an Adoptee

Some adoptees have a very open relationship with their birth family, while others who grew up in a closed relationship may have never known their birth parents. Depending on that relationship you have with your birth mother, you may have some complex feelings towards her.

But the one thing that remains consistent in all adoption situations, regardless of the relationship that an adoptee ultimately shares with their birth mother is that birth mothers place children for adoption in an effort to provide them with the best life possible. This requires a great deal of love and loss.

Speaking kindly of birth moms when others judge their decision to place a child for adoption will mean so much. Reminding others of the difficult decision that your own birth mother made for you in order to do what she felt was best will go a long way towards de-stigmatizing adoption for birth parents.

If You’re an Adoptive Parent

Like adoptees, you may have a very close relationship with your child’s birth mom, or maybe you’ve only met her once or twice. Maybe you’ve never even met at all.

No two relationships between birth and adoptive families are exactly alike. Some birth parents and adoptive parents grow to become like family, while others have a more distant or even strained relationship.

Regardless of your personal relationship with your child’s birth mother, birth parents deserve respect and support. Without a birth mother’s loss of a child, you wouldn’t have gained a child.

The vocal support of birth mothers from adoptive families means a lot to birth parents, as well as to young adoptees who look to you as a role model, and to those who may not know much about adoption. You can:

As an adoptive parent, you can be a strong advocate for birth moms and show others that adoptive families and birth families have each other’s backs.

For Everyone Else

Your words mean a lot, because it proves to the world how accepted and celebrated adoption is in most circles! When you lead by example, others who may not have been directly affected by adoption will follow suit.

  • Educate yourself about modern adoption, and make sure you have your facts straight.
  • Listen when members of the adoption triad speak, and recognize that everyone’s experience with adoption is going to be unique but equally valid.
  • Use correct adoption terminology, and gently remind others to do the same.
  • If you ask a birth parent, adoptive parent, or an adoptee a question about their adoption, be sure to ask in private and politely. Start with, “Can I ask you a question about adoption?”
  • Remember that there are many different ways to become a family, and all are equally great! Share that non-judgmental message with others.
  • If you see someone making ignorant or hurtful comments about a woman’s adoption decision on social media, or overhear it in conversation, speak up!

It’s through you that widespread acceptance and celebration of birth moms is most quickly achievable. Step up and let others know that before they judge a stranger, they should always remember that they don’t know the whole story.