Friday, June 2, 2006

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.

Positive language------------------------------ Negative language

Birthparent ----------------------------------------------Real parent
Biological parent ----------------------------------------Natural parent
Birth child ----------------------------------------------- Own child
My child --------------------------------------------------Adopted child; Own child
Terminate parental rights -----------------------------Give up
Make an adoption plan ---------------------------------Give away
To parent -------------------------------------------------To keep
Biological father/birth father --------------------------Real Father
Biological mother/birth mother -----------------------Real Mother
Parent -----------------------------------------------------Adoptive parent
International adoption ----------------------------------Foreign adoption
Child placed for adoption -------------------------------An unwanted 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 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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