Positive Adoption Language

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The way we talk, and the words we choose, say a lot about what we think and value. When we use positive adoption language, we say that adoption is a way to build a family just as birth is. Both are important but one is not more important than the other.

Choose the following positive adoption language instead of the negative talk that helps perpetuate the myth that adoption is second best. By using positive adoption language, you'll reflect the true nature of adoption, free of innuendo.

Positive language

Birthparent
Biological parent
Birth child
My child
Born to unmarried parents
Terminate parental rights
To parent
Waiting child
Biological father
Making contact with
Parent
International adoption
Adoption triad
Permission to sign a release
Search
Child placed for adoption
Court termination
Child with special needs
Child from abroad
Was adopted

Negative language

Real parent
Natural parent
Own child
Adopted child; Own child
Illegitimate
Give up
Give away
To keep
Adoptable child; Available child
Begetter
Reunion
Adoptive parent
Foreign adoption
Adoption triangle
Disclosure
Track down parents
An unwanted child
Child taken away
Handicapped child
Foreign child
Is adopted

Words not only convey facts, they also evoke feelings. When a TV movie talks about a custody battle between "real parents" and "other parents " society gets the wrong impression that only birth parents are real parents and that adoptive parents aren't real parents. Members of society may also wrongly conclude that all adoptions are "battles."

Positive adoption language can stop the spread of misconceptions such as these. By using positive adoption language, we educate others about adoption. We choose emotionally "correct" words over emotionally laden words. We speak and write in positive adoption language with the hopes of impacting others so that this language will someday become the norm.
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