Do Bio-moms Abandon Children Released for Adoption?

Carolyn’s Online Magazine (#COMe)





Adoption has been part of my life since my husband and I first applied to an adoption agency in 1967.

No, I err. It’s actually been a part of my life since December 1948, when a memory of my mother having a ‘big belly’ became etched in my mind.


It’s mother’s day again. I’ve been pondering the question whether bio-moms releasing their newborns for adoption abandoned their infants.


I have 2 sisters my mother released for adoption. I’ve also worked as an adoption caseworker and have foster-parented four pregnant women planning to release their babies for adoption. I also have an adopted a daughter, an adopted nephew and an adopted surrogate daughter. Each situation involves a bio-mom.


While my older sister and I lived with our grandparents we visited our mother. During the visit I recall standing on a toilet seat while my mother braided my hair. At just 5 years old I didn’t know what a big belly meant. However, it must have made a big impression on my childish mind, because I held onto it for more than 60 years.

I’ve been contacted by two siblings my mother released for adoption. In January 2011 I heard from a sister 10 years younger than myself. The February 2012 contact was a sister whose birth date, 20 days after my 5th birthday, matched exactly my memory of the big belly.

When my mother released these two babies for adoption were they abandoned?


Did the unwed bio-moms we foster-parented, who released their babies for adoption, abandon their infants? Did they care so little for their newborns that they gave them away?

One bio-mom was a 24-year-old raising an 18-month old. She lacked the skills to separate her choices from a lifetime of abusive experiences. Her broken-up marriage was very abusive. Men were so viscous to her she feared she would harm a male child. To protect him, she released him—not unlike Moses mother released her son, to protect him.

Another bio-mom gave birth just after her 14th birthday. She knew her son would be better off with parents who had the maturity and circumstances to love him and care for.  She did what she knew was best for him.

Both bio-moms still mourn the loss of their children thirty years later.


Again, back to my mother’s story.

I often wonder if, while birthing 5 more children (in 8 years), she mourned the loss of her two newborns. Did she continue to be pregnant as a means of replacing, or making up for, the babies she lost? Had she wanted to keep them close to her heart when they were born?


Some people suggest if these bio-moms truly loved their newborns they would have found a way to keep them. However, each had circumstances preventing them from caring for their babies, circumstances that guided and forced their decisions.

I don’t have sufficient information on my adopted daughter, nephew, or surrogate daughter, to conclude their situations were similar. However, the same question applies: did their bio-moms abandon them? On this mother’s day do they mourn for the child they released for adoption over 40 years ago?

I’ve heard 94-96% of bio-moms want to know what happened to their babies. Many circumstances made them release their children when they truly didn’t want to take this path.

I invite you to share your opinion, or experience, in the comment box below this article. I’d love to hear from you.

About carolyncholland

In several if my nine lives I have been a medical lab technician and a human service worker specializing in child day care, adoptions and family abuse. Currently I am a photo/journalist/writer working on a novel and a short story. My general writings can be viewed at My novel site is
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9 Responses to Do Bio-moms Abandon Children Released for Adoption?

  1. Fran says:

    “Abandon” is such an ugly word. If you leave your child on the street, doorstep, or at a church, you abandon it because you don’t want to be found as the “mom”. If you leave it with an agency to be adopted, put your name on birth certificate you are not leaving it behind, just giving it a better future than, for whatever reason, you feel you cannot provide. Just my view on this early Mom’s day morning.


    • I agree with you. However, I’ve heard some adopted children label this as “abandonment,” so I went with that definition. Thanks for pointing out the difference between abandoning and releasing. Thank you for commenting. Happy Mother’s Day.


    • I am sorry that you find “Abandon” an ugly word. I guess you were not left by your mother, becasue if you had been you would probably not have this judgement on it. No matter how I try and rationalise the act that my mother did, no matter how many times I think her actions were about giving me a better life than the one she could provide, I felt she ABANDONED me. She did not take full responsibilty for her actions. Now I am going to go and meditate because of the way I feel. Blessings Joy


  2. I guess it depends from which side of the word you are viewing it? Sorry but I find the word “release” quite inadequate. My bio-mother abandoned me, she did not release me. Racing pigeons are released. Blessings Joy


  3. merry101 says:

    Interesting subject. very emotional. We don’t know what we would do, unless we walk in their shoes. And then each mother’s story is different.
    I noticed that fathers aren’t mentioned in the Abandonment…just Mothers and their actions.
    Usually, the mothers are abandoned, left with the responsibility, financially and health issues.
    Trying to Work while pregnant and emotionally distressed…who can make good choices??
    Carolyn, blessings to you for your work in this area.


  4. Pam Shimberg says:

    Joy, thanks for sharing. I am the second child Carolyn’s mother gave up for adoption. I did not feel abandoned. Several insensitive people have used the work “rejected” when discussing that I was surrendered for adoption. That word is much harsher. I did not ever feel like a reject. Knowing what I know about the circumstances, I believe my biological mother took full responsibility for her actions. Is it possible your bio mother was acting responsibly when she surrendered you? And Merry, I agree with you when you say that father’s aren’t mentioned in “abandonment.” Mine wasn’t even listed on my original birth certificate.


  5. Pam Shimberg says:

    After hitting the submit button yesterday, I realized I made a glaring error in my comment. I was not the second but the first child given up for adoption by Carolyn’s mother. I was the one in that big belly Carolyn noticed her mother had. The remainder of my comments remain as written. Maybe one day I’ll learn to proofread!


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