Just like parenting through birth, adoption is about building a family. At Arizona Adoption Help, we honor a mother’s decision to place her child with an adoptive family and to provide the best possible future for them. There are many misconceptions about adoption in today’s society, but it is one of the most unselfish and caring things you can do as a mother and father when the time is not right to raise a child. To prevent the negativity and get to the heart of adoption, it’s important to be aware of the language we use. The words we choose convey a lot about our emotions and our values. They express what we really think. Using Positive Adoption Language is one of the most important ways we can respect all people involved in an adoption.
One of the most common mistakes is saying a child was “given up” for adoption. This sends the message that their biological parents somehow failed, or further, they didn’t want or love their child. There is no “giving up” or “giving away.” Birth parents invest great care into a plan for adoption. They place their child out of love and the desire to create a future and a family for their child. Similarly, to say a child was not “wanted” because they were adopted is just plain wrong. They were very much wanted, and in fact, they were waited for, planned for and wished for.
With respect to parents that choose to adopt a child, there are some insensitive terms to avoid. To say a child’s birth parents are their “real” or “natural” parents sends the message that the adoptive family is fake or unnatural, somehow lacking in value. Nothing could be further from the truth. When a family adopts, it is very much real and the child is as much their own as a child brought into the family through birth. Even describing parents that choose to adopt as in someway above others implies that adoption is a less than ideal situation and only for very special, strong or very saintly people. Positive Adoption Language sends the message that adoption is a very valid and real way to create a family, not better or worse than having a child through birth. Here are a few more terms to be mindful of when speaking about adoption.
Positive Adoption Language
- Birth Child
- Place a child through adoption
- To Parent
- Was adopted
Negative Adoption Language
- Real or Natural parent
- Illegitimate, unwanted child
- Give up, give away, child taken away
- Is adopted