I've read many adoptive mothers refer to their child's biological mother as "our birthmother." Initially, it sounds so endearing. "Our" affectionately lays claim on a "mother" who will give "birth" or did give birth to a child who will be or is being raised in an adoptive family.
But there are issues with this term.
First, the idea of "our" is disturbing because it's claiming another human being as theirs. As if this woman intentionally got pregnant only to place her baby with an adoptive family---you know, like for fun. Yeah, right. "Our" also seems to impress upon hearers that the woman is solely existing for the purpose of birthing a baby which she might, intends to, or has placed with an adoptive family.
Second, "birthmother" is often used for a woman who is expecting a baby, not a woman who has placed a baby. A woman cannot and isn't a "birthmother" if and until she places that baby with an adoptive family. A match (meaning, if an expecting mother chooses a family prior to the birth of the child or even after the birth but the mom's parental rights are not terminated) doesn't equal a woman being birthmother.
"Birthmother." Really, it's two words, yet it's lumped into one. A slurred word that strips away the emphasis on mother.
Additionally, "birthmother" is a term that offends many women who have placed their babies for adoption for a few reasons. (These reasons I'm listing have been complied by me based on my discussions with women who have placed babies and from my own assumptions and understanding).
First, the term tries to encompass a very complicated, intricate situation into a single event: a birth. What about the months of pregnancy? The emotions? The choices? The bonding? The wondering? The years of loss, grief, and pain that will follow a placement?
Second, "birthmother" is the term many adoption agencies use, and that puts a bad taste in the mouths of many. Adoption agencies, most, exist as businesses, not ministries, and many women do not really understand this until they've worked with one, placed a baby through one, and then are left feeling empty, cheated, manipulated, lost, etc. So to be labeled as something that was driven and designated by an institution that partook in the adoption is offensive, hurtful, etc.
Third, there are better terms. Some women who have placed babies prefer: biological mother, natural mother, or first mother.
(I've had many discussions with adoptive moms and women who have placed babies about the terms listed. Each has her own reasons for using one term over another. At this time, I'm not sure which is "right" for my family, and you will often read that I do use "birth mother" in my posts. I do this mostly because it's a generally understandable term to the general public. However, I do not strongly disagree or agree with the other terms).
I recently read an adoptive mom's blog where she kept mentioning "our birthmother." Now, this "birthmother" hadn't given birth at the time of the blog entry (so yeah, she was really an "expecting mother"). Second, the woman didn't belong to the adoptive family, so the term "our" hardly seemed appropriate. And third, a match means nothing in adoption. Not really. It's a possibility (maybe an adoption will occur, maybe not)---but to claim "our birthmother" is rather presumptuous of the adoptive family. (I think that family needs a good talking to by the social worker!) I've said this before and stand by my claim---the baby doesn't belong to the adoptive family until all legal matters have been fulfilled.
Words are powerful. And no one likes to be labeled as something or someone they are not. So when adoptive families refer to their child's biological/natural/birth/first parent, the "our," in my opinion, should be left out, and the term, whatever it may be, should be chosen with love, caution, and consideration.