The Importance of Positive Adoption Language
Language is a powerful concept. As the main form of communication for many people, it helps us to connect with and understand others. And, as you may recall hearing when you were younger, words can hurt. Just as much as an encouraging word can inspire or an apology can heal, a negative or unsympathetic word can do lasting mental and psychological harm.
If you are considering placing your child for adoption, there may be some words and terms you are unfamiliar with. This all might be new to you and take some time and adjustment to update your vocabulary. Adoption Choices of Oklahoma understands and we are here to help you learn all about the importance of positive adoption language.
Why is Positive Adoption Language Important?
The language associated with adoption has changed over the years. Even today, the language continues to shift and adapt to better represent how society feels about adoption. It is this societal perspective that makes the language we use so vital to the adoption industry.
Although it is not as prominent as it has been in the past, there is oftentimes a societal stigma on birth parents who place a child for adoption. This is largely due to ignorance of the adoption process as a whole, lack of empathy, and the damaging language people use when talking about adoption.
A phrase as common as “giving up your child for adoption” has an entirely different connotation associated with it as opposed to “placing your child for adoption.” “Giving up” is associated with negativity, while “placing” is more positive and accurate.
By simply choosing to adjust our vocabulary to words and terms that do not continue to spread negative connotations and instead strive to educate and provide neutral or positive alternatives, we can begin the process of changing how society views adoption.
Positive Adoption Language
Positive and negative language not only significantly impacts our society – it can also directly affect you and your child as well. To us at Adoption Choices of Oklahoma, adoption is love. We understand that placing your child for adoption is an act of selflessness and can require tremendous amounts of courage and heart.
Some people, however, may have differing opinions on adoption and while you should never feel ashamed of your decision, their opinions still have the potential to negatively affect you mentally and psychologically. This may also be the case for your child as they grow up.
One way to help maintain a healthy mindset throughout your adoption experience is to surround yourself with positive adoption language and to encourage others around you, including your child and their family, to do the same. The list below includes words and phrases to consider incorporating into your vocabulary when talking about adoption:
- Birth parent, birth mother, birth father
- Biological parent, biological mother, biological father
- Birth child, biological child
- Adoptee (vs adopted child)
- Choosing adoption, making an adoption plan, placing child for adoption
- Was adopted (vs is adopted)
There will always be people with opinions that differ from your own but that does not mean their words have to influence you or how you feel. Your words have power too, and if used positively, they can change lives and create the foundation for healthy and happy futures for you, your child, and their new family.
Adoption Terms and Phrases to Avoid
Stick and stones may break bones and sometimes, words can hurt just as much. Adoption language has changed over the years, however, not everyone is as informed about these changes as we would hope. For some, it can be confusing or frustrating to address these changes head-on and to learn new ways to convey old concepts.
Despite this discomfort, just as adoption practices have improved over the years, so too can our adoption language. The first step to shifting our minds and words in a positive direction is recognizing and acknowledging the language that needs to be corrected.
Below we have compiled a list of words and phrases that should be phased out of people’s vocabulary when discussing adoption:
- Real parent, real mother, real father
- Natural parent, natural mother, natural father
- Natural child, real child
- Abandoned child, unwanted child
- Chose to keep her child (vs chose to parent her child)
- Give up for adoption, put up for adoption, give away
This language shift may take time but the positive effects it has on those who associate with adoption in any way will always be worth it.
Adoption: Another Definition of Love
We hope you enjoyed learning more about the importance of positive adoption language. Words are important tools for communication, the building blocks of language. Whether we are aware of it or not, language influences our lives in diverse and subtle ways. Remember, your words matter – to us, to you, and to your child and their family. So be careful with your words but never shy away from sharing how you feel.
If there were any words Adoption Choices of Oklahoma would like for you to take away from this lesson on positive adoption language and to associate with your adoption experience, it would be these three: love, joy, and hope.
Adoption Choices of Oklahoma is a private adoption agency, licensed by the state of Oklahoma and leader in the adoption community. We have been assisting birth parents, children, and adoptive families in Oklahoma for over 19 years. Our staff members are committed to providing an ethical, empowering, and personalized adoption experience to all involved in the adoption process. If you are currently in the process of adopting a baby and have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact us.
Toll-free: 800-898-6028 | OKC Local: 405-755-1999 | Tulsa Local: 918-447-7777 | Text: 405-310-8790 | Email
Meet the Author: Kristle Hailes is just your average, Alaska-born writer with a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and a dragon’s hoard of books and tea. In addition to educating young minds for over 12 years as a teacher, Kristle is also a professional daydreamer, world-builder, author-in-progress, and wordsmith. Writing is the air in her lungs, and she has been breathing life into paper ever since she learned her ABCs and realized you could play with words.
Kristle currently lives in South Carolina where she can usually be found face-deep in a book and a cup of tea or digging herself out of plot holes while working on the first novel of her adult contemporary fantasy series.