“Dear Birth Mother: Screw You.”

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

I agreed to do more “adoption” reading earlier this year. As part of this, I have been trying to read more about adoption from an adoptive mother’s point of view in an effort to understand all the different parts of the…whatever this relationship is between me, you, and your adoptive mother. Triangle? Constellation? Train wreck?

I found a book that looked interesting, Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother by Jana Wolff. It has a four star rating over on amazon.com. Betty Jean Lifton said, “Jana Wolff takes the myth and denial out of adoption and uncovers its real secrets.” I guess I wasn’t prepared for this secret. On page 17 & 18, the author shares what she wanted to write for her “notorious ‘Dear Birth Mother’ letter.”

The blood drained from my face as I read it. Granted, I haven’t read the rest of the book yet but did she really just say that is what she wanted to write????? Here it is in its entirety.

Dear Birth Mother:

Screw you. Do you think I want to beg a complete stranger for a kid whose own mother doesn’t want him? You messed up and now you get to sit in judgment of the perfect parents for your baby….What do you know about parenting? About perfection? How will you choose, anyway? Will it be the prettiest couple? The richest? The hippest? The most devout? We wouldn’t win on any of those counts.

If, by some fluke, you do us the great honor of pronouncing us fit to be adoptive parents, what will we owe you? Will we have to support you for the rest of your life? Name the kid after you? And what will happen once you realize what you’ve done? Will you come back and reclaim your child, rip her away and change her name? How could we ever trust you? How could we ever believe you?

Who are you, anyhow? What kind of person would get herself knocked up by a scummy guy who runs away when he hears the news? Haven’t you heard of birth control? Of AIDS? Of abortion? Of OB/GYNs? Of monogamy? Of love?

I don’t want my kid to be your mistake.

[Wolff, J. (1997). Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother. Kansas City, MO: Andrews & McMeel, a Universal Press Syndicate Company. Original emphasis.]

In her defense she does go on to include the actual birth mother letter they submitted to the agency and concluded the chapter with, “Thankfully, the first letter never made it past my head.”

Uh….it didn’t? Then why am I reading it? And if I am reading it now, then did the mother of that “mistake” you call your child read it too? I haven’t finished the rest of the book…maybe she redeems herself at some point and I will allow room for that to occur. I know that people do have a change of heart and maybe she does but…how many other adoptive mothers harbor these same kinds of secret thoughts but simply are not brave enough to voice them?

Before I finish the book though, I need to go gargle with bleach to get this nasty taste out of my mouth.  I hope it gets better.

Much love,


38 thoughts on ““Dear Birth Mother: Screw You.”

  1. That is the most horrifying thing I have ever seen. I guess at least she is honest.
    A woman like this was allowed to adopt a child?

    I am a “birth mother”. I was in love. I was monogamous. I had heard of abortion but I loved my baby from the moment she was conceived so that was never an optoin. I “got myself” knocked up by a scummy guy who was nineteen and terrified, just like I was.

    If this is what she thinks of mothers, why would she want our children anyway? Oh wait, babies are a blank slate and genetics don’t mean anything. Sigh.

    Do you have any bleach left for me?

    • Yes, Eileen, she was allowed to adopt because she didn’t share this particular version of her “Dear Birth Mother” letter with the social worker. I’ve read a bit more of the book – it looks like she might pull her head out of the sand and become one of the adoptive mothers who “get it” but the jury is still out.

      But still…can you imagine being “her bm” and reading that 1st version of her “Dear Birth Mother” letter in the book? She ended up going with an open adoption so you *know* “her” birth mother read it. Ouch.

      Sending the bleach your way –


      • That would be “gets it” as in comes to understand that adoption carries with it a tremendous amount of pain along with the happy parts.

    • So why would you leave a child to some strangers, where you sure they were going to love him ? Or that maybe it is going towonder all his/her life why was it abandoned. Why because of a mistake it was brought to the world an later selled, gifted as a piece of furniture? Or maybe you were sure the famiily was going to accept him/her as one of their own, you know what they are usually rejected by everyone.o and.that is othing new for him/her because it was rejected from the beggining of its life and it was not its faul. Dont just say it

  2. I know my a Mom has nothing but contempt and disdain for my first Mother, for many reasons. Reasons like she wasn’t enough. She could not replace my first Mother. I am not bonded to my a Mom like I was and still am to my f Mother. I am nothing like my a Mom…and that alone made her feel inadequate.

    She still calls my f Mother “That woman”. Oh well…it’s sad, because had she acknowledged that I was indeed someone else’s daughter and was not “as if born to her” it would have been easier for all of us.

    She never wrote a “Dear Birth Mother” letter, though. Although Im sure if she would have, it would have been no different than most of the crap that paps write.

    • Linda –

      Recently, I had a conversation with a man I deeply respect who also happens to be the adoptive father of 5 children. Only one of his children searched for her natural mother and when she found her, was summarily rejected a second time. She would not even let her have contact with her siblings which INFURIATES me to no end. Unfortunately, this happens frequently in the LDS culture, especially with mothers & children from the BSE – there’s a myriad of reasons I won’t bore you with here.

      At any rate, during this conversation we talked about his daughter’s natural mother was the first time I heard a birth/first/natural mother referred to as “that woman.” I was *shocked* to hear the venom in his voice every time he called her “that woman.” It was never “my daughter’s birth mother” or “natural mother” but always “that woman.” It was the first time I had talked with an adoptive parent from children of the BSE. To hear such judgmental harshness coming from this normally kind, gentle, nurturing, loving, and intelligent man was shocking. I guess some of it had to do with the fact his daughter’s natural mother had totally rejected his daughter and shut down any chance of reunion but it was an eye opening experience for me.

      Still trying to process this letter. I had a feeling there were adoptive mothers/PAPs who felt/feel this way about the women “like me” but to see it spelled out in black and white…it kind of sucks. Like Eileen said, at least she is being honest. I also would like to note that at least she called her a birth mother [two words] not a birthmother, BM, or birth woman.

  3. Wow — I’m absolutely shocked to read this. I’m an adoptive mom and can tell you that not all adoptive parents or prospective adoptive parents feel this way. I can’t imagine entering into the adoption process without having respect for any woman who is considering placing her child for adoption — after all if the adoption goes through, this is a person who will be inextricably tied to your child forever because nothing will erase the bond of biology between them. It is so important to me that my children respect their birth mom — how could I ever ask them to respect her if I don’t?

    • Tonya –

      I have been fortunate enough to have known several adoptive mothers and PAPs that have the same belief you do. I am glad I got to know them before I read this book though….if this was one of the first things I had read about adoptive mothers (written by one!!!), I think I would have needed to be medicated.

      I kind of liken this whole “respect the birth mom” thing to what it is like to share a child with an ex-spouse. One of the worst things a child can hear is to have one parent bad mouthing the other (whether it is warranted or not). To a child, when a person says, “OH, I HATE MY EVIL EX BECAUSE OF BLAH BLAH BLAH” they hear, “Oh, I hate that part of you that is from my evil ex because of blah blah blah.” They frequently internalize one parent’s hate/anger towards the other one because after all, they are that parent’s child too and understand that half of them came from that parent. I would imagine it might be the same for adopted children, times ten.

      • Yes! Yes! Yes! Coming to grips with the father of my first born child, getting to a place where I could respect his bonds with HIS child, getting to a place where I could let go of the anger/jealousy/fear and allow the bond between the two to grow was a huge turning point in my pathway to adopt our children. I am so glad I went through that experience before we adopted Evan and Mariah because it allowed me to let go of any anger/jealousy/fear in regards to my children’s families, mothers and heritage.

      • I hope you realize what a rarity you are in this world, Monica. So few people are able to do what you have done for Ethan and his first dad, especially within the LDS culture.

  4. Ugh. That letter sounds familiar… and so does that book however all the adoption books I read in my very early days of losing Amber all rolled into one. I am wondering which book I read it in, but there was this one paragraph which made me literally vomit. It was about this particular adoptive mother getting her adoptling home and peeling off the clothes because 1. she wanted the baby to have the clothes from her and 2. she also wanted to make sure that the cord stump was gone because she DIDN’T WANT ANY EVIDENCE OF THE FACT THAT CHILD WASN’T HERS BIOLOGICALLY. I don’t get why they bother adopting then… because no matter what they want and how hard they try, they cannot get rid of nature and the truth.

  5. That is so terrible! And yet not as shocking as I would have thought it would be.

    Yes, this amom is at least telling the truth about how she felt, and honestly, I know there are amoms out there (not all, don’t want to offend those who would never think or act in such a way) who do express feelings and animosity such as this.

    I wrote a blog post a while back titled, Dear Birthmother, and in order to get my point across I had to keep a log of some of the things I came across amoms saying in forums and such about us First Moms and some of what I heard made me so sick to my stomach. That was a hard post to write because, again and again, I came across some terrible things like this writer shared in her book. There were days I couldn’t decide if I wanted to cry or slam my head against the wall until I couldn’t feel anymore.

    • Cassi – I remember that blog post. I was going to dig up the URL and ask if I could link to it. As I lay in bed last night thinking about this one is that the one you wrote was actually a nicer than the one this adoptive mother wanted to write.

      Like I said in response to another comment, I am SO GLAD that I got to know The Enlightened Adoptive Mothers before running into ones that harbor these kinds of sentiments. So to all of those of enlightened adoptive mamas out there who might be reading this…thank you for doing the hard work it takes to be mindful of your child and your child’s first family.

  6. I hate that book and people ask me ALL THE TIME if I loved it (because all adoptive mothers must be alike, right?). I didn’t really like the rest of the book either but that letter cinched it for me.

    • Dawn – Glory be, it is a tough one to get through as a first mother!!! I am almost done and let us just say…it doesn’t get much better. I sound like a broken record but I am so very glad I know that not all adoptive mothers and PAPs are like this.

  7. Aaaaauuuhhhhh! Yuck! My eyes are burning from reading that!

    I recall seeing this book and thinking about getting it and reading it– but something put me off and I never did.

    I am hopeful that this letter is a reflection of the feelings the author had a very low point that she later rises up from. Not that makes it right– and to put in a published book! I hope she is writing under an assumed name. Can you imagine reading that and being her adopted child?

    I feel nothing less than empathy and respect for my daughter’s moms in China. As much as I have read about China, in genera, and from talking with some of my Chinese friends– I know I will never truly be able to contemplate the feeling of oppression in China– especially that inflicted on women in China.

    • I am almost done with this book and had I been the natural/first/birth mother of one of the two children she adopted, I would most likely need to be medicated.

      It has certainly been an insightful journey into this particular adoptive mother’s experience. I will most certainly go to amazon.com and put in my two-cents worth, not that my opinion matters much to adopter mothers of this ilk. My personal opinion: Don’t waste your money. If you really want to read it, I will send it to you free of charge.

  8. And people think adoptees do not notice when their a-parents feel this way, just because it isn’t said allowed or written out to read (until, well, the book was published that is). We know. We can sense it. We can tell.

    And it makes us feel like crap.

    We’re part of her afterall. If our first mothers cannot be accepted, there is always a part of us that will know we will never be accepted either.

    • “We’re part of her afterall. If our first mothers cannot be accepted, there is always a part of us that will know we will never be accepted either.”

      I first figured out this principle when learning how my parent my son with an ex-husband. *All* the child development/divorce specialists admonish us to never speak unkindly of the other parent in front of the child for the exact reason you state, Amanda. Children will internalize the comments as meaning something is wrong with them since they are part of that parent. Why is this rule suddenly non-applicable in an adoption scenario??????

      Those who have (unfortunately) lived the experience of hearing an adoptive parent bash their natural parent can attest it does apply. Adoption papers do not suspend the rules of child development.

      I am still stunned that this woman put this into print. I simply cannot imagine being the mother of the child she adopted and then reading this….I would need to be heavily medicated for years.

  9. “We’re part of her afterall. If our first mothers cannot be accepted, there is always a part of us that will know we will never be accepted either.”

    EXACTLY… I have always said this… how can adoptive parents claim to love their adopted children when they hate their mothers? Adoption does not erase this relationship no matter how much they wish it did. How can anyone feel accepted when they know their mother is not? Great point Amanda.

  10. This woman doesn’t deserve to be a mother to my dog, let alone a beautiful baby.
    IF this was just her thoughts, then she wrote it down for someone. You thoughts become words, your words become actions, your actions become your habits.

    Nope wouldn’t have her….not even for my dog.

    • I have finished reading the rest of the book and let’s just say, it doesn’t get much better. Some of the things she says about parents of children with disabilities are just…atrocious. It is one of those books that will quickly find a new home and if you knew me better, you would understand that getting rid of a book is something I don’t do lightly. I will post a more thorough review once I am done with my dissertation.

  11. It is a work of art, that “First Letter”, I am translating a book about Jews in WW II who had to give up their children to let them survive in hiding and returning some of them encountered reactions like “Our neighbours had more luck, those parents are dead”, that preying on people’s children, going as far as to be wishing decent, loving, beloved parents dead, and that were for all the guys saying that knew peerfectly blameless people. And in this text Man has been given a li’l bit of blame, to play with, having made love, and a greater one, abandonment of a fellow soul, and nearest kin into the claws of this.. creature herself, to attack her victim with.

    Ecce Homo, as if this biting sea of sin alone drove nails through both wrists of JC. This is Man awash in all unashamed genuine evil, but driven by love, perferted, corrupted, filthy love, but love nevertheless… Man, not a fallen angel, or a walking ape, but a true fullfledged devil, with still that little bit of divine mercy in its ink black soul.
    There is in all the hateful deception still the awe, the knowledge of love, and the trembling horror at the realization that the birthmom is going to do something worse. And that SWEET loving end

    “Haven’t you heard…of love?

    I don’t want my kid to be your mistake”.

    Such a harsh, broken victory of the good impulse, such a sublimed message: “Get out of this trap. Flee this nightmare NOW!!!”
    Bit of a pity, that her conscience shown so strongly in the text did not seem to penetrate her actions as strong as well. In my unashamed opinion, the composition could nevertheless still be improved a bit by putting “I’ll” before the screw. All in all a great work, which could serve well as propganda in the battle against unnecessary adoptions and relinquishments, would the author object? Is there any place where it is needed and anti-adoption-activists are active?

    Writer acknowledges being the kind of poet who writes a 12 line poem with haiku-like effect about toy boxes, which can also be read as a sad ending impression of a militay cemetery, without even ever TRYING to reach that latter effect. So forgive me if I am a bit too enamored of the text.

    If the rest of the book is garbage, I’ll believe it, but the letter is a masterpiece, in its kind. It contains, though hidden, the best message to put in a “birthmother letter”: RUN GIRL!!! It may be that it was just an expression of her feelings, and that the special effects were coincidences, like my cemetery effect, but nevertheless, hidden under meanness, it warns and it ends really great, though in evil tones: KEEP YOUR BABY. Shame it has not really been used.

    • “If the rest of the book is garbage, I’ll believe it, but the letter is a masterpiece, in its kind. It contains, though hidden, the best message to put in a “birthmother letter”: RUN GIRL!!! It may be that it was just an expression of her feelings…but nevertheless, hidden under meanness, it warns and it ends really great, though in evil tones: KEEP YOUR BABY.”

      Yes, well said point. Further, I cannot imagine what it must have been like to be one of “her birth mothers” to have read this letter, in print, for all the world to see. Devastating I am sure.

      • I was rather thinking of her adopted children. They must be old enough to read it now. It is not easy to judge how “birth mothers” fairly from another side of the triangle or from the outside world.

        In different jurisdictions, it is a completely different story, the Oregon discussion about waiting 8 days before signing with a Reclaim period of 30 days, seems downright woman abuse to somebody used to the Dutch system where only three months after birth (in which the mother could visit and take care of the baby and certainly is totally free to decide to keep her baby) before the choice of PAPs and the question whether she really wants to relinquish are even really considered, selected PAPs have to foster a full year (during which the real mother is still free to change her mind) befor they can adopt. Counting from conception with a 9-month pregnancy, a mother loosing her child to adoption has already been at least two years the mother of said child, and her right to try and reclaim her child at the last hour is recognized, don’t know if it has ever been used, changes of mind are usually in the first three month. I do agree that it is a bit over the top towards relinquishing parents, but a first birthday change of mind is still at least three months before the deadline. Let me say it like this, a Dutch Christian Pro-Life site presents adoption as a sort of alternative to abortion, but none of their happy last minute abortion avoider stories is a relinquisher’s…

        And if we others don’t know the story, we do sort of assume that in spite of getting well over a year of considering adoption alternatives, in what seems to be a sort of, you have magically signed away your baby an hour after birth, after having had the time to get in a hormonal balance, overcome a post-natal depression, without being tricked and that you refused to correct that signing mistake, which is so easy… (sarcasm!)

        With that kind of mix-up, you can easily become some sort of monster in our imagination, even if we love one or more of you. Please, forgive us our ignorance, our fear and our lack of understanding. And please forgive that LDS-guy, who talked about forgiving his wife, or at least forgive this romantic, in whose native languague there is not really word for virgin, but we certainly have one for mother, my pleading: my understanding is that he said it clumsily, but that he may well be wiser and gentler than you thought, he may just mistake adoption pain for fully self-inflicted pain. And that is SO common among us others, adoption agencies, adoption pushing, coercing, forcing? How do we know? If a book describes the truth, we forget, consider it fiction or we cannot stand its cruelty and stop reading it. The lucky ones live in places where the practice is well kept down, in reality or attention, the unlucky ones are fooled by adoption agency ads and the like.

        Forgive us, we cannot know what we do, but do not fall silent anymore.

      • I was rather thinking of her adopted children. They must be old enough to read it now. It is not easy to judge how “birth mothers” can be hurt from another side of the triangle or from the outside world.

  12. That was horrifying.

    It sounds like she had/has some serious infertility issues that needed to be addressed before she was allowed to adopt. Wow, can I use that bleach for my traumatized eyes?

    • Marissa – I finished reading it but haven’t posted my full review yet. The author of that book really said some horrible thing but not just about birth mothers but about women who chose to parent disabled children and all kinds of other things. It was one of the most repugnant adoption books I have ever read! Like I have mentioned before, I am soooooooooo grateful I know adoptive mothers who are the polar opposite of this woman. If that is what I thought they were all like? Well then, one might be able to call me bitter and I would gladly accept the title!


  13. I just came across your blog and was horrified when I read this post. I’m an adoptive mother and birth mother. While I came to be an adoptive mother in a different way than most I would NEVER call my son’s birth mother “that woman”. She did horrible, unspeakable things to my son. She has scared him for life. I’ve had moments where I hate that she shared the first 8 months of his life with him because she did such evil things to him. I begged and pleaded with her to allow me to adopt him and can’t tell you how many times I was told no because she couldn’t “give away the baby she loved.” If she loved him so much then why in heavens name would she beat him? She finally did allow me to adopt him after choosing not to see him for….. 8 months! No matter how many ill feelings I have toward her I would NEVER EVER allow my son to know that. She is an angel to me because she gave me him. If the Adoptive mother that wrote that stupid book can’t see that… she shouldn’t be an adoptive mother to being with!

    • It’s a pretty craptastic letter, isn’t it? You should read the other things she said about adopting a child with disabilities and a few other choice things. I forced myself to read the whole book and can honestly say it was one of the most revealing books I have ever read. Kudos for her for putting it all out there but sheesh…I would hate to be the first mother of the children she adopted!

      I am so sorry to hear about your son. It sickens me to hear of situations like the one he came from and I am glad that his first mother did the right thing. And yes, there are times when adoption IS the right thing. This is one of them.

      Sending lots of love and healing to him –


  14. Horrible. I’m so sorry to hear this. I’m an adoption social worker and I can tell you that is not how we talk about, make plans or interact with our birthmothers. Our birthmothers are precious and the culture in our agency is to respect and love them. I haven’t read the book and I don’t plan to (yuck), but having worked with couples who have been struck with the total loss and grief that comes with infertility, I recognize the jealousy and pain in this woman’s words. I don’t justify her attitude or especially, her decision to make it public, but I know couples who have spent years trying to prepare for and bring biological children into their homes. I don’t completely get it because I haven’t experienced it myself, but I know they struggle with feelings of inadequacy, total loss, relationship issues, lack of control/ choice, jealousy, crisis’ of faith and isolation, just to name a few. She shouldn’t have aired her poison in public, particularly because of the points you mention above (her children, her birthmothers, other birthmothers etc…), but I can appreciate that the road of infertility is a hellish one.

  15. Ik how all u feel try to put the past with the past it may be very hard at times but try an focus on the present the past is effecting all of u guys future I’m 22 now an my childhood sucked it has so much painful memories but try to go to concealing try to go to new point it will help u all with recovery an eventually make u feel way better just a suggestion for everyone always remember to ur not alone in this world u have god an he ur all his children he loves u so the last thing ima say is try an focus on the present an keep ur head up idk what all u have been through but we r all very strong cause we survived

  16. I am an adoptee and sometimes the above could be my own thoughts towards my bio parents. However since I didn’t have a choice but this woman did, she should not have adopt ed. Noone should be taking some elses baby anyway. Instead more support should be provided to those women who are not in a position to be able to keep THEIR baby.

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