A myth, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is “a story that is usually of unknown origin and at least partially traditional, that ostensibly relates historical events usually of such character as to serve to explain some practice, belief, institution, or natural phenomenon.”
Myths develop because not enough is known about a person or situation. Myths about birth mothers are no different. They have been developed from a variety of sources, and society has come to form them into a stereotype birth mother. For our purposes, let’s call her Mary.
If you believe all the myths about Mary, then she is a teenager who has made a mistake with her boyfriend and finds herself pregnant. Because she is pregnant, she has dropped out of school. She has no job skills, so she has to go on welfare because her parents kicked her out. She does not want a baby and does not love the baby. She thinks it would be great to find a situation where she could be a co-parent, letting other people help her but see the baby every couple of weeks, just in case she wants him back.
Are most birthmothers really like Mary? In a word, no.
The picture painted of Mary presents an overview of the six most common myths and misconceptions about birth mothers. Let’s look at the first three this week. We’ll cover the next three in next week’s blog post.
Myth 1: All birth mothers are teenagers.
The ages of birth mothers encompass the range of childbearing years. Yes, some are teenagers, but there are also women in their forties who are pregnant and considering adoption. The majority are in their twenties and thirties.
Myth 2: They are choosing adoption, so they must not love the baby.
The decision to place a child for adoption is an extremely difficult one, often made because the birth mother loves her child. She often could have chosen an abortion, but, because she values the life of her baby, she has decided adoption is best for the child.
There are circumstances when a birth mother does not take care of herself because of a lack of self-love or other factors that may contribute to a self-loathing attitude. Because of this, she does not get proper treatment, and the child may be born with problems associated with alcohol and/or drugs.
Myth 3: All birth mothers are poor.
It is true that some birth mothers are on welfare and do not feel they can adequately provide for the baby. It is also true that there are birth mothers coming from middle-class backgrounds. They may already have children, may be attending college, or may live with their parents. This applies to teenagers and older people alike.
The truth is typically somewhere in between. Often, they feel like they are getting by but simply cannot provide for one more child in the midst of all they are already doing.