In a perfect world, adoption wouldn’t exist; adoption arises out of brokenness. Even though I know it to be true, that fact weighs heavy on my heart as one of my sons was adopted. Because of all this brokenness, it’s easy to pass judgement and have preconceived ideas about birth parents. Unfortunately, we’ve all seen adoption poorly dramatized on television and movies, but reality tells a different story.
It’s challenging to gather large amounts of data on birth mothers because there isn’t a central source collecting date like a census. Most research is limited and offers a small group of participants. So, even though there aren’t often exact statistics available, we do know a few things based mostly on anecdotal evidence that can break stereotypes about birth parents, specifically birth mothers.
1. Stereotype: Birth mothers are teenagers.
Fact: Despite what Lifetime movies want us to believe, not all birth moms are teenagers. In fact, most birth moms are between the ages of 25-35 years old. The older an expectant mother, the more likely she is to make an adoption plan. Younger expectant moms tend to romanticize motherhood.
2. Stereotype: Birth mothers are women of color.
Fact: In a very limited study, 57% of birth mothers were Caucasian, followed by 22% Hispanic, 14% Biracial, and 7% African American. This suggests that adoption knows no racial bounds.
3. Stereotype: Birth mothers are uneducated.
Fact: In the same study referenced above, the opposite proves true! More than half of birth mothers reported having some college or an Associate’s degree. This is because birth mothers have higher aspirational goals and are more likely to finish school than mothers who choose to parent their children.
4. Stereotype: Birth mothers are drug users.
Fact: While it’s true that some birth mothers may struggle with addiction, it is most often financial or emotional reasons that cause birth mothers to make an adoption plan. Other external struggles such as homelessness and no partner support may also contribute. There is no one reason why birth mothers choose adoption; it’s a very personal decision.
I’m sure there are many more stereotypes about birth mothers, but the reality is they are all individuals with different circumstances, backgrounds, hopes, and dreams. When you meet a birth mother, I encourage you to keep an open mind and refrain from making snap judgements. Treat her with the respect she deserves and admire her bravery.
Are you considering placing a child for adoption? Not sure what to do next? First, know that you are not alone. Visit PregnancyHotline.org or call 1-800-GLADNEY and speak to one of our Options Counselors to get compassionate, nonjudgmental support. We are here to assist you in any way we can.