What NOT To Include In a “Dear Birthmother” Letter

This post was originally published on AdoptionBlogs.com on November 9, 2010. Republished here with permission.

In domestic infant adoption, typically, the prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) write a letter to expectant parents, telling them about themselves and why they want and should have a child. This letter is commonly known as the “Dear Birthmother Letter”. Today, I’m going to talk about what not to include in this letter.

First, do not address the letter “Dear Birthmother”. Why not?

  • Until a woman places, she is not a birthmother. She is an expectant mother, just like any other pregnant woman.
  • Although this is somewhat rare, expectant biological fathers do help in making adoption plans for their children.

Second, do not refer to children of your own. For example, “When we found out we could not have children of our own, we knew the Lord was calling us to adopt.” If your adopted children are not your own, then whose children are they? If I were an expectant mother, and I said the phrase “of our own” used in that manner, I’d go to the next letter. And yes, I have seen PAPs use this language, and it makes me angry as an adoptive parent.

Third, do not talk about money. Do not mention that you will pay all legally allowable expenses. It sounds like bribery. Also, bringing money into the equation at this point is inappropriate.

Fourth, don’t mention visitation. If you want an open relationship, by all means say so. However, don’t go into any details. You don’t want to write, “We hope to be able to share holidays and birthdays with you”. If the expectant parents don’t want any contact, the idea of visits may scare them. If the expectant parents turn out to be unsafe to be around, you don’t want those words to come back and bite you. I should note that most expectant and birth parents are perfectly normal individuals, just like any other family members. However, there are some people who are abusive or who abuse substances, routinely break laws, are mentally unstable, etc. I think every family probably has one of those types of people somewhere in their closet. (I know we do!) In the rare case that this describes the expectant or birth parent you’re dealing with, you want to know that you didn’t make or imply any promises.

Fifth, don’t use humor that could be taken the wrong way. If you love to golf, it may seem funny to you to talk about how you look forward to having a son or daughter to caddy for you. However, such a reference may lead Black American expectant parents to believe that you see this child as more of a servant than a family member.

Tune in next time to see what to include a “Dear Birthmother Letter”.

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