Please Don’t Call Me an Adoptive Mom. I am Mom.

I am a mom.

When I am at the softball fields or swim lessons with my girls, I introduce myself as either Penelope’s or Pandora’s mom. The fellow parent introduces himself or herself as so-and-so’s father or mother, and then we have a conversation.

When I attend Meet The Teacher, I introduce myself as Penelope’s or Pandora’s mom. The teacher then says, “Nice to meet you,” and we exchange pleasantries.

When I volunteer at school, I am introduced as either Penelope’s or Pandora’s mom.

Mom. It is a word that seems simple … but can be incredibly complex.

For whatever reason, the above scenarios are few and far between for a group of women called “adoptive mom.” {And just so we’re clear, adoptive mom goes in the same sentence as real mom.}

I am fully aware my girls were adopted. But here’s the thing… I am also fully aware this is past tense. I am their MOM, no additional descriptors needed. And while I have a laundry list of things that irk me, this is at the top of the list. Why must I be identified differently from other moms? And why do children who were adopted have a real mom? Am I fake? What is not real about me?

When a child comes into this world via IVF, IUI, or surrogacy, the woman that is up all night with the baby, changing dirty diapers, and stressing about the child is called mom. The woman crying from lack of sleep, the woman kissing her toddler’s boo boos, and the woman beaming with pride is called mom. It does not matter for these moms how their baby was created. But somehow, my participation in all of this affords me the title adoptive mom and leaves people asking where their real mom is.

I am their real mom. Yes, they have a birth mother. Birth mother refers to the selfless woman who gave my child life and then placed her in my arms and called me mom. Neither of the girls’ birth mothers called me adoptive mom. In fact, their families gathered around my husband and me on placement day and congratulated us on becoming mom and dad. They told us we would be amazing parents. They told us thank you. We, of course, thanked them. We are 100% mom and dad due to the most selfless and courageous acts of two young women.

Please do not diminish my relationship with my girls by giving my mom title an adjective. When they make a family tree in school or write a story about their family vacation, they do not write my adoptive mom, my adoptive sister, my adoptive uncle, adoptive aunt, etc. They use the same familial names your child does: mom, dad, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, cousin…

My girls know our family was created through adoption. When you ask about their real mom or call us adoptive parents, you make us less than in a child’s eyes. It is hard enough growing up in this world, why make a child question their parents’ love and loyalty?

Children who were adopted figure out very quickly what that means. No matter how we sugar coat it and no matter how positively we talk about their birth mothers, a child still feels “given away” at some point in their life. When the term adoptive mom is used, it makes the role of motherhood seem optional or seem as if it is not permanent.

Do children of families created naturally fear their mom and dad leaving them? No. They have no experience with this. Plus, we all know mommies and daddies never leave their children.

I am Mommy. My husband is Daddy. We, too, will never leave our children. They are our girls, our world, our life, our whole heart. We stayed up all night, changed explosive diapers, cried at first steps, pulled out their first tooth, waved bye at the first day of kindergarten, held their hand during stitches and casts, sat in parent/teacher conferences, cried, laughed, and worried like every other parent.

Birth Mother is a term used to ask about the woman that gave birth, gave life to a child.

Mom is a term used to describe the woman who loves and takes care of her child.

Adoptive mom and real mom are two terms that should never be used.

I am Mom.

I am Penelope’s mom.

I am Pandora’s mom.


And my children? They are my children, NOT my adopted children.

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Michele is a native Houstonian and loves everything Texas, including the Longhorns. She and her husband were married in January 2002 and are parents to the most wonderful girls, Penelope {August 2008} and Pandora {August 2011}. A former educator, Michele is passionate about education and student learning. She spends most of her days volunteering at her daughters' schools and tutoring neighborhood children in reading. Michele loves her big family and enjoys traveling to see all her relatives as well as being the fun aunt to her nieces and nephews. Her daily goal is to laugh each day and enjoy the moments. Becoming a mom was the greatest gift for Michele, and she treasures it all, even the tantrums. You can read more about Michele, her life, and her parenting adventures on her personal blog The Adventures of Tomboys in Tiaras.


  1. I think the author of the article is absolutely right. An adopted child may feel affected when he or she hears that word “adopted” should not exist that term. Simply son, daughter. Nobody has to know the history of an adopted person, that is something familiar, many people are happy to comment on all sides how good they are because they adopted a child, put their photo on the facebook and all the information. Certainly those comments do not help improve their family environment / living in Houston Tx Irving A. Trigo Segarra


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