- 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 group support is one of the most powerful resources for birthparents. While meeting with individual birthparents is valuable, we believe that our synergy as a group creates new perspectives and connections that constitute a powerful form of support.
- 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 means to be a birthparent. We believe that 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 acting 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.
A note on language
Throughout this site, we use the term ‘birthparent’ 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 terminology that should be used to describe this experience. A primary objection to the use of a term like ‘birthmother’ is the possible implication that these women are somehow not mothers; that is, as ‘birthmothers’ their relevance is reduced to the act of gestation. Many women prefer terms like ‘first mother’ or ‘original mother’ when describing their own experiences.
Like all words, the terms ‘birthmother’ and ‘birthparent’ are embedded with histories, politics and meanings. We do not uncritically deploy this term; we have chosen to use ‘birthparent’ 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.