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Positive Adoption Language

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 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 will reflect the true nature of adoption, free of innuendo.

POSITIVE LANGUAGE                                   NEGATIVE LANGUAGE

Birthparent                                                     Real Parent

Biological Parent                                            Natural Parent

Birth Child                                                      Own Child

My Child                                                         Adopted Child; Own Child

Born to Unmarried Parents                            Illegitimate

Terminate Parental Rights                             Give Up

Make an Adoption Plan                                  Give Away

To Parent                                                      To Keep

Waiting Child                                                 Adoptable/Available Child

Biological Father                                            Begettor

Making Contact With                                      Reunion

Parent                                                            Adoptive Parent

International Adoption                                    Foreign Adoption

Adoption Triad                                               Adoption Triangle

Permission to Sign a Release                        Disclosure

Search                                                           Track Down Parents

Child Placed for Adoption                               An Unwanted Child

Court Termination                                          Child Taken Away

Child with Special Needs                                Handicapped Child

Child From Abroad                                         Foreign Child

Was Adopted                                                  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 birthparents 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 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.

Permission to reprint this page granted by OURS magazine, Adoptive Families of America, 3333 Hwy. 100 N. Minneapolis, MN. 55422.              

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