Birth Parent vs. Expectant Parent
The term “birth mother” or “birth parent” refers to a woman who has given birth to a child and decides to place her child for adoption, following through on that decision and completing all the necessary legal steps.
The term “expectant mother” or “expectant parent” refers to a woman who is pregnant and who may be considering adoption, but who has not yet given birth and who has not yet completed the legal steps to make the adoption final or the termination of her parental rights irrevocable.
The same distinction in vocabulary applies to men. “Birth father” refers to a man who has already consented to the termination of his parental rights and the adoption. An “expectant father” is a man whose child has not yet been born and whose rights to the child remain intact.
With that said, the term “expectant parent” is not in widespread usage yet. On this website of the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (AAAA), we use the more common term “birth parent” for now, in order to make our website more accessible and because most state statutes use this term. However, we acknowledge that the terms “birth parent” and “expectant parent” are not interchangeable.
You should tell your lawyer, social worker, and any prospective adoptive parents how you wish to be addressed. Alternatives include “a parent with a placement plan” for after birth and “an expectant parent with a placement plan” for prior to birth.