“I come to the meetings…to be in a safe space of understanding and true compassion for what we bear in the depths of our being.”
– Birth Mother, 1975
“After placing my daughter in an open adoption, I felt alone and like no one knew what I was going through. When I found Ohio Birthparent Group, I immediately felt a sense of family and a connection.”
– Birth Mother, 2010
“The monthly meetings and one-on-one support from members helped me gain the courage I needed to tell my other children about my relinquished child and to reunite with my son in person.”
– Birth Mother, 1988
“Ohio Birthparent Group helped guide me
during the most challenging times of my life.
I’ve learned so much about myself
and the complexity of adoption.”
-Birth Father, 2005
- We believe that what birthparents know about their own experiences is expert knowledge.
- We believe that adoption has a profound, ever-evolving impact in the lives of birthparents, often in ways that are unanticipated at the time of placement. Birthparents need access to substantive, long-term resources to support them in negotiating adoption issues across their lifetimes.
- We believe that peer group support is one of the most powerful resources for birthparents. Our synergy as a group of peers creates new perspectives and connections that can exceed other forms of support. We believe that peer support is central to building a substantive and sustainable landscape of post-adoption supports in our community.
- We believe that the diversity of our experiences should be valued, validated and explored. From our diversity we begin to develop a more complete understanding of what it might mean to be a birthparent. By sharing our diverse perspectives, our community builds collective and individual understandings that can contribute to making adoption a more just social practice.
- We believe that we must be the central agenda-setters in our own post-adoption support. Organizations and programs that do not hold birthparents at the center of their mission and do not have birthparents in positions of leadership are inadequate to the task of maintaining safe and open spaces for us to explore our experiences on our own terms.
- We believe that systemic change at all levels of adoption law, policy and practice is necessary to make adoption a liveable experience. Adoption reform must emerge from the leadership and perspectives of birthparents and adoptees, as these groups have been historically excluded from the policy-making processes that shape their lives.
- While we claim our position as agenda-setters, we believe that birthparents should not be made to carry the sole burden of sustaining post-adoption support services. Meaningful investments in the support of birthparents must be made by the State, by those that grow their families through adoption, and by the professionals that participate in adoption practice.
- We recognize our embeddedness in a larger community that includes adoptees, adoptive families, birth families, and many others whose connections transcend traditional boundaries. We are committed to nurturing these relationships of kinship, connection and coalition. In particular, we support the efforts of adoptees to articulate the experience of adoption on their own terms and to become agenda-setters in adoption law, policy and practice.
- We understand ourselves to be a part of a long, rich history of birthparent activism in the United States. We honor the visible and the silent struggles of many generations of birthparents; it is through their efforts that Ohio Birthparent Group is made possible.
What Does 'Birthparent' Mean?
Throughout this site, we use the terms ‘birthparent’ and ‘birth parent’ to describe women and men who have elected, been coerced or forced to terminate their parental rights through adoption.
There is little consensus in the adoption community regarding the appropriate language to describe this experience. One objection to the use of a term like ‘birthmother’ is that such a word may imply that these women are somehow not mothers worthy of social recognition. Many women believe that ‘birthmother’ unjustly reduces their experience to the act of gestation. As such, some women prefer terms like ‘first mother’ or ‘original mother’ when describing their own experiences.
Like all words, the terms ‘birthmother’, ‘birthfather’ and ‘birthparent’ are embedded with histories, politics and meanings. We do not uncritically deploy this term. We have chosen to use these words in order to maximize our visibility as a post-adoption resource. Arguably, ‘birthparent’ is the most culturally recognizable term for this experience; it has widespread use in the media, law and social services.
We recognize the descriptive limitations and controversies inherent in the use of these terms and invite the participants in our support groups to use the terms that they prefer for themselves. While language is regrettably limiting, we hope that the work we do speaks clearly to our belief that birthparents are indeed mothers and fathers deserving of recognition.
In The Media
“Adoption Records Unsealed.” NPR’s All Sides with Ann Fisher on WOSU 89.7fm- Mar 25, 2015
“New Law allows adoptees to request once-sealed birth records.” Columbus Dispatch Mar 21, 2015
“Adoptees claim their right to birth certificates.” WCMH NBC4i.com Mar 20, 2015
“Ohio Adoptees can unlock their past on Friday.” Cleveland.com / Cleveland Plain Dealer Mar 19, 2015
“Birth Records to be unsealed after 50 years.” WCMH NBC4i.com Mar 19, 2015
“Ohio law makes birth records available to 400,000 adult adoptees.” Washington Time Mar 18, 2015
“Mother & Son Reunited years after she surrendered him for adoption.” WBNS 10tv Eyewitness News Feb 10, 2015
“Woman from Akron searches for daughter she gave up for adoption 35 years ago” ABS News 5 Cleveland Feb 6, 2015
“First Person: Reunion fittingly linked with holiday.” Columbus Dispatch Nov 21, 2014
“Ohio’s Adoption Records Unsealed” NPR’s All Sides with Ann Fisher on WOSU 89.7fm (feat. OBG member) – April 17, 2014
“Difficult Dialogues: What First Moms Want Adoptive Parents to Know” – Creating a Family Radio podcast (feat. OBG members)- April 18, 2012
“Workshop helps Parents on Both side of Adoption“- Columbus Dispatch Nov 13, 2011
“Birthmothers Answer Questions from Adoptive Mothers” – Creating a Family Radio podcast (feat. OBG members)- March 30th, 2011
“Birthparents Break Silence, Share Stories in Support Group“- Columbus Dispatch Nov 9, 2010 (Front Page!!)
Ohio Birthparent Group is a community organization committed to supporting the life-long needs of birthparents through peer support, advocacy and community education.
Founded in 2010 by birthparents themselves, OBG was created to address the historic lack of services and significant barriers to social recognition faced by women and men who place children for adoption. We are a diverse, multi-generational community of birthparents representing a broad range of experiences with adoption. Our perspectives are unique, yet we share a common understanding that adoption is not merely a personal decision or a legal process; it is a lifelong experience that deserves lifelong support.