Monday, June 21, 2010

Positive Adoption Language


Zay and I went to the mandatory 9-hour adoption training meeting a few weekends ago (where we talked to the one guy about our health insurance issues). They covered tons of topics that will affect us during the process, after we're approved, when we are chosen by a birth family to be parents, and after placement. There was a lot of good information! I'm glad they require us to go to meetings like that. It's important for us to be prepared and not get lost or jaded in this long process.

I took a lot of notes and they passed around a lot of good handouts. One of the handouts was on using positive adoption language rather than outdated, more offensive terms. Let me just say that people in general can be very rude, nosy, and obnoxious. I know that already, just from the many intrusive questions and comments I get from people about infertility (Infertility Etiquette). I know we'll face even more ignorance once we've adopted. The biggest thing that will bother me - and I'm already bracing myself for it - is if someone asks about my kids' "real parents," or tells me that my children aren't really "mine" because I didn't give birth to them, or implies that my children who were adopted are somehow less-than. Ohhhh, man. I am almost seething with anger just typing that. Mama-Bear is ready to fight!

I know people normally aren't intending to be offensive and we can all learn better ways to communicate, so here is a short list that LDS Family Services uses to promote better conversation (most are pretty common sense):

Negative Terms

Preferred Terms

Gave up her child for adoption

Placed her child for adoption

Real parent; natural parent

Birth parent; biological parent

Adoptive parent


His adopted child

His child


Born to unmarried parents


Child who was adopted

To keep

To parent

Adoptable child; available child

Waiting child

Foreign adoption

International adoption

Track down parents


Unwanted child

Child placed for adoption

Is adopted

Was adopted


  1. My baby had a nurse in the NICU once and I asked her if she had any kids, and she said no--that she adopted a son. I was thinking, "What?? You don't count him as your son??" She said that it was nice that she had a child, but that it's just not the same. I thought that her mentality was so, so sad, for her and her child. But, she is in her 60s now and her son is grown, so maybe she's just really outdated with the whole adoption terms thing. But it was still so sad.

  2. @The Girl -

    Wow, I can't even imagine having that kind of mentality! That IS really, really sad. I guess it's a generational thing, though. I've heard that adoptions that took place decades ago used to be a shameful, hush-hush kind of thing. They were all closed adoptions, like they were trying to hide any evidence that their family was brought together differently.

    Hopefully I can be a positive "spokesperson" of what adoption can be and what it SHOULD be. From the second I started researching adoption, I knew that it was something that God approved of and something that I should be a part of. It's not unnatural or second-rate! And I will seriously hurt somebody if they try to tell me otherwise. Ha ha ha. :)

  3. When people would ask my mom how many of the kids were 'hers' and how many were adopted, she would say (without getting angry, but so matter-of-factly that people knew they'd been inconsiderate) "They are all my children, but four are home-made and four special-ordered."

  4. @Heather -
    OMG, that is awesome! I'll have to remember that...

  5. That is a good list to use; I am pretty sure I have used some of the wrong terms without even realizing they are offensive.

  6. Great list. You are awesome! And it is hard to be lazy!

  7. Hey you won the giveaway on my blog today.

    Please email me your address so I can send you the certificate emmy (at) emmymom2 (dot) com


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