When a woman decides it’s best to place her child for adoption, there are important follow-up decisions to be made, emotional hurdles to overcome, and deep soul-searching to make sure what she’s doing is right and that it’s done well. Birth mothers, along with their support groups—whether that be their family, friends, the adoptive family or a plethora of other comforting individuals—always try to keep the child’s best interests in mind while simultaneously protecting the birth mother.
Sometimes, there are people who don’t completely understand the situation and don’t know the best things to say or do. I particularly want to talk about other women who may be pregnant at the same time, but are choosing to parent. It isn’t a secret that the vast majority of pregnant women decide to parent, so it’s not always common knowledge how to interact with another woman who is pregnant, but choosing to place her child. Though it is usually from a lack of understanding and a longing to help, here are some things pregnant women who are choosing to parent shouldn’t say to pregnant women choosing to place:
Nothing at all. Some women think it may be better to ignore the fact that both are pregnant and to act as though neither one is pregnant. While this may be a kind gesture to try and alleviate some pain, it’s not something that can be swept under the rug. Some mothers choosing to place may not want to talk about it, but other don’t wish to be silent; they may not want to be excluded. The best way to deal with this is just to talk about the gift that all children are, regardless of who is going to parent them.
“If you keep the baby, our kids can be friends!” Let me assure you that telling this to a pregnant woman deciding to place is not what she wants to hear. Placing a child for adoption is not usually an easy conclusion to come to. Birth mothers do what it best for their children, and parenting just so your kids can be friends is definitely not high on that list of priorities, if it’s on there at all. While this may be their way of helping give reasons to parent, things like childhood friends are not good enough reasons. May I recommend saying something along the lines of, “If you choose an adoptive family that lives close, maybe our children will turn out to be friends!” instead.
“I’m sorry.” While this may seem like an appropriate thing to say to another pregnant woman, please understand that birth mothers may take that in a different way. Please don’t be sorry she’s pregnant. New life is a blessing and shouldn’t be talked about like she regrets the child’s life. It might be best to elaborate as to why you’re sorry so she doesn’t take it in a different direction. For example, “I’m sorry this is such a hard time for you, but I’m proud of you for your decision.”
“I’m going to name my child ______! What are you going to name your baby, I mean their baby, I mean the baby?” A rule of thumb when another woman is pregnant and she is planning to place, it’s best not to compare your circumstances or situations. If you’re not sure how to phrase something, try asking very general questions, such as, “Has a name been chosen?” or “Have you and the adoptive family decided on a name?”
“Oh, I didn’t see you.” Please don’t avoid or ignore a pregnant woman just because she is planning to place her child and you aren’t. She needs support and comfort, so your neglect may come across as disapproval of her decision. If you do disapprove or don’t know what to say, consider asking questions with the intent to understand. You may even let her know, “I’m not sure what terminology you would prefer I use,” or, “What are some things you’ve heard that you don’t really appreciate? I don’t want to make that mistake.” Birth mothers usually understand that most people don’t know the right things to say, so asking shows that you care about her and her feelings.
This can be an interesting situation for everyone involved. There’s a whole new way of thinking that needs to develop and it may take some time. Birth mothers themselves are trying to figure these things out, but they are often very sensitive and, well, pregnant. They’re experiencing all the same symptoms of pregnancy, but there is an added stress and emotional weight that requires some extra sensitivity. It’s just an overall fragile situation, but showing you care and support them as people is all they really want from you. They don’t blame you for their circumstances or dislike you for choosing to parent. So please, give them the same love you would extend if they were choosing to parent. After all, there’s a beautiful new baby being brought into the world!