I will admit that I'm fairly new to the adoption community. Obviously, I am adopted and I have interacted with many adoptees and adoptive families, but it has only been in the past year that I began exploring actual adoption support groups both online and in person. In fact, I had no idea they existed on such a large scale. Every type of support I've seen has been for the adoptive parents, which, no shade, I don't really care much about y'all's feelings. There is little to no support for us actual adoptees going though the thick of it, so I never bothered to get involved. When I ventured into the online groups, it was interesting to see the topics and education being shared. I both love and hate it. They're still overwhelmingly ran and filled with adoptive parents, mostly white women. But the ones I've settled into seem to be doing a decent job with sharing info. It was being in these groups that I was introduced to the term "first family". I had never heard that term used before, and had no clue what it meant. I soon found out that this has been coined the acceptable/appropriate term to use for birth mothers and families. The idea behind it is that birth parents should be recognized for doing more that just "giving birth". Fair enough, I suppose. However, I cannot find myself to accept that term.
I get it, but I will not be using it, or honoring it, and here's why.
I have a few issues with the term. Starting with the fact that it's very birth parent focused. As far as I can tell, this wasn't a term that adoptees chose. It has come from birth parents wanting more credit, which I find very condescending. And as and adoptee and advocate, I always believe the final say should be from adoptees. I will always respect their wishes over any parent. Granted some birth parents are/were great. Maybe they did do more than give birth. Maybe they raised the adoptee for several years. Maybe they went to birthdays and dance recitals. I don't know. But to demand a child, a child they chose to give away, gives them credit for their minimal work...ISSA NO from me. It's no different than adoptive parents demanding adoptees be thankful they were adopted. We don't owe you anything. It's gross and places a responsibility on adoptees to carry their own guilt of giving us up for adoption.
The other reason I do not like the term, is because a lot of birth parents didn't do anything for us. I can think of at least 15 adoptees off the rip, who had terrible abusive, birth parents. Do they deserve the title of "first family"? No. That is not a family. For my own birth parents, my mom specifically, I don't view her as my mother. I have absolutely no problem with her at all. I know her story of why she did it, I understand, always have. I don't hate her for it, I don't hold a grudge or anything of the sort. We talk every once and a while, and I still plan to go visit her and my siblings. However she did not raise me. My MOM, adoptive mom did. Literally from birth, she did everything, even breastfed me. It was my adoptive mom who was there anytime I fell, when I was in pain, every birthday, every sporting event, stopped working to stay home to raise, and home-schooled us for 15 years. It's my adoptive mom who still today, is bailing my grown 25 year old ass out of situations and continues to give her undying support to all of us kids. It's my adoptive mom who sticks her neck out and risks everything for me and her other kids. My birth mom was never that for me. She gave birth and it stopped there. Obviously, that isn't her fault, but it's hard for me to view someone who was never a part of my life, as a "first mother/family" because my first family, is the one I have had for the past 25 years. Do I consider her family? Of course, but not my first one.
I do not like the term, and frankly don't respect it much at all. I really hate when parents adoptive and birth alike, decide to take over and make things about themselves. So I will not be using that term. I do, however, respect my fellow adoptees, if they request their birth families be referred to as "first" I will respect the adoptee's wishes. The rest of y'all just gunna have to deal with being a birth parent.
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