“What are you going to say when he asks why she gave him up?” It’s a question I get frequently, from friends and adoptive moms alike.
Why she gave him up.
Never once have I been asked why his father gave him up. Because, be honest, you don’t expect the same from fathers. You don’t expect a man to want to parent just because a child shares his DNA. But you do expect it from a mother.Stop to consider this: When a woman donates her eggs to help create a family, she’s considered a hero. And when a woman donates her uterus to help create a family, she’s considered a hero. But when a woman unexpectedly finds herself pregnant and chooses to create a family for her child through adoption, she’s considered callous. Heartless.
When are we going to stop expecting woman to want to be parents simply because they experience pregnancy?
I’m not raising my son to believe that his mother “gave him away” because I’m not raising him to assume that all women who give birth should want to be mommies. I’m not raising him to believe that choosing not to parent is a bad or shameful choice.
If my child ever asks me, “Why did my birth mommy give me up,” I’ll simply explain that she didn’t. I’ll explain that some babies grow in their mommy’s tummies, and some babies don’t. Some babies have two mommies because their mommies are married. And some babies have two mommies because they have a mommy and a step mommy. Or a mommy and a surrogate mommy. Or a mommy and a birth mommy. Some people visit their birth mommies and some people don’t. Some babies don’t have a mommy at all, but only a daddy, or two daddies.
A birth mother’s choice to not become a parent is no more callous than a woman choosing not to have children at all. Adoption is not abandonment. Adoption is a way some families are born. It is worthy, wonderful, and meant to be. And that is what I will say to my child – and anyone else – who asks me the question.
Jessica Butler is the co-founder of Raise, stepmother of two, and adoptive mother of one. Prior to Raise, she was a writer on USA’s "In Plain Sight" and TNT’s "The Last Ship." She and her husband, writer/producer Warren Bell, co-created the Nick at Nite series "Instant Mom," based on her life as a stepmother. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and six-year-old son, Levon.