Blog// LGBT Adoptive Parents

What is Paper Pregnant, and Should You Use It?

Those within the adoption community have most likely heard the term ‘paper pregnancy’ or ‘paper pregnant’ floating around over the past few years. If you’re unsure what the term means, you’re not alone. It’s a term that is gaining in popularity, but it’s important to understand it and use tact and compassion before implementing it into your conversation.

What A Paper Pregnancy Is

Paper pregnancy is a term used by adoptive families to denote the period of time that comes when they have finished their paperwork and are nearing the end of the adoption process. There may be feelings of excitement and anxiousness for the family during a paper pregnancy, just like during a real pregnancy.

We believe the term can legitimize the experience of adoptive families and can also allow the families to do some of the fun things you’ve probably seen traditional families do when announcing their pregnancy. 

Choosing When to Announce

Depending on what you think is best, you will get to decide on your own terms when you announce that you and your family are paper pregnant. Some families choose to do so as soon as they can after finishing up the required paperwork and paying the mandatory costs, even though they may have not been connected with a birthmother or child.

Other families prefer to wait to announce until they have been connected with and met their birthmother or child. This is a personal decision, so just know that whenever and however you choose to announce is valid. Some families, however, may choose not to use the term at all.

Using Tact and Compassion

The term ‘paper pregnancy’ has sparked some controversy within adoption circles in recent years. While most adoptive parents use the term with good intentions, a small number of people claim that it can be hurtful to the birthmother. Those who oppose the term say that it takes away from the real pregnancy of the birthmother. Some may feel like the real physical experiences of the birthmother are being ignored or overlooked when someone chooses to use the term ‘paper pregnant.’ Others say that it makes it seem like the adoptive parents are laying claim to the child while it is still in utero.

Obviously, we want to use tact and compassion when dealing with an issue to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings. Be sure to consider the birthmother’s point of view; talk to her about the term and see how she feels. Remember, you are both in this together!

Why are paper pregnancies important?

It’s simple: This is an important time for adoptive families. This period of waiting is similar in several ways to a real pregnancy, and many feel that using the term better illustrates the importance of this time for the adoptive families. 


By giving a name to this emotional time, it is easier for adoptive families to talk about. Awaiting a child will bring excitement and anxiety alike, no matter how that child will join your home! Just be sure you are using the term in a way that doesn’t disregard the birthmother’s experiences.

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