Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Birthmothers™ trademarked = you can't use it ... ?

For something to do in your free time, dig around the U.S Patent and Trademark Office, and take a boo through their database. Do you know what a trademark is? By registering a trademark, a company claims (and obtains) the exclusive legal right to use that word or phrase. A trademark is a brand name.

What is a trademark? By the USPTO FAQ, "Trademarks include any word, name, symbol, or device, or any combination, used, or intended to be used in commerce to identify and distinguish the goods of one manufacturer or seller from goods manufactured or sold by others, and "to indicate the source of the goods."

Why is this relevant?
Because if you do a search on the USPTO trademark database, you will find that the term "birthmother" is the trademark of Birthmother Ministries, a group that focuses on convincing mothers to surrender babies for adoption. They befriend vulnerable mothers, steer them towards surrendering, and link them up with baby brokers who can then lovingly harvest them. Yes, folks, this means that they legally own that word. Interesting that, according to the definition of what a trademark is, it distinguishes indicates the source of the goods. Gee, the source of the goods -- all those little babies being brokered for adoption -- are the good ol', happily-surrendering, splayed-on-their-backs birthmothers, eh? Or, should we say, birthmothers™.

Interesting. You too can be a brand name owned by that company, a "source" of "goods." And not only that, but the very name does not belong to you, but to a company that "lovingly" separates mothers from their children. Mothers of adoption loss, this is just one more reason to question whether you really want to be labeled by this term. Never mind that, according to the letter of the law, technically you cannot use this term without their permission.


Anonymous said...

Unfreakin' believable! Indeed, another excellent reason to stop using the b-mother term.

Found you through Gale's blog. And I'm hooked.

Susan Stafford said...

I really like your mission. I too was coerced. I posted my story on a website at

Please lets link to each other and keep in touch!!

Contact me at

I would love to be friends with you!

Sending a hug to you!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for being here and all that you are doing. Reading these blogs helps me realize that I am no so alone in this process... It has been 18 years since I was coerced to surrender my child by and it never gets any easier.

adoptionroadkill said...

Dear Anonymous, your sisters are here for you. You are right, it never gets any easier, but the baby brokers didn't tell us that, even though they knew and they knew back even before 1984 when Winkler and Rynearson did their studies. Does one call it "sin of omission"? Frankly, I call it deliberate fraud and outright lying, what they did to us.

Hang in there, find a support group, and check out the online screening tests for PTSD and depression. EMDR and trauma counselling has helped many moms cope with the trauma of the violent disembabyment -- being pressured to surrender a baby we wanted to keep.

Did you know that if you had said "No" at any point, they would only have applied more pressure to you? Many moms have reported that if they said "No" to the initial types of coercion, then they were threatened with having to pay huge expenses to the agency, having their child kept in foster care indefinitely, and CPS being called on them. It only got worse.

Anne-Maree said...

... Wow. I am continually disgusted at the ways people (in particular, people who have grouped together as companies) feel they are allowed to own other people. Didn't most of Earth decide that the whole owning-people thing was WRONG, already, past tense?