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Using Positive Adoption Language in Oklahoma

By Anna Keller

If you have discovered you have an unplanned pregnancy, you might be asking now, how do I adopt out my baby? Or similarly, ‘I can’t take care of my baby.’ If you are wondering how adoption works, you have come to the right place. You may also be asking yourself: how will giving my baby up for adoption help me? Furthermore, you may be concerned about the implications of the language.

You may fear that within the adoption process, there is an implication that you are ‘giving up on’ your child. However, we are here to tell you that that is not true. In fact, there are many different ways you can express the idea of placing your baby for adoption without using that language. In this article, we will divulge some alternative language you may use that encourages more positive mindsets. Additionally, we will walk you through what will become your own unique adoption plan.  

First Steps and What You Have Control Over During Your Adoption

You may be asking now, how do I get in touch with an adoption center near me? The first step is to contact you either virtually or in person, depending on which you feel more comfortable with. Next, you will be assigned a social worker who will oversee your case. They will work with you on finding an adoptive family. They will also help you figure out what aid you qualify for in terms of pregnancy-related expenses.

You might ask yourself, is adoption for my baby going to run smoothly? The answer is that there is no guarantee that everything will go according to plan. You may need to be flexible. For instance, not every hospital will let your adoptive family in the delivery room. Because of the uncertainties of COVID, rules are unreliable and are subject to change. However, that being said, there are certain things, like your adoptive family itself, that you have the final say on.  

Private adoption agencies like Adoption Choices of Oklahoma are geared to help you navigate the challenges of adoption. They will help you find a family, and they will help you approach the emotional taxes as well. Adoption agencies in Oklahoma are also aware of the importance of Positive Adoption Language (PAL). The capitalization and application of an acronym are intentional. They illustrate the quintessential component of regarding adoption positively. The first step towards adopting a healthy mindset in anything is the language you use toward it. We will provide some terms that you can use to gear your mind toward a more positive outlook on adoption.  

Positive AdoptionTerms to Use 

One such term of positivity is ‘hope for the future.’ Instead of focusing on the birth mother’s inability to parent, this term re-aims the lens at the baby. It focuses on the baby’s opportunity, which many people are inclined to call a gift. The birth mother may feel as though she is ‘giving up’ on her child by parting with them.

However, terms like ‘hope for the future’ imply that the baby has the chance to live a fulfilling life. Namely, a life with parents who have the financial resources to take care of them. It is important to remember that birth mothers still dearly love their child they part with. Just because they cannot take care of them does not mean they do not love them. Not every woman is equipped to be a parent when they get pregnant, which is why adoption exists.  

Positive vs. Negative Language 

Not only will we get into more positive terms, but we will list some terms to avoid. The terms to avoid propagating false narratives about adoption invite negative mindsets to dominate the adoption narrative. One such example is saying ‘real parent.’ The emphasis naturally falls on the ‘real,’ thus implying that adoptive families are not real parents.

Just because the family is not biologically related to the child does not mean that their parenting is illegitimate. The term to use instead is ‘biological’ parent. While this term leans more toward neutral than positive, it is a suitable replacement for negative adoption language.  

Birth mothers who are considering adoption should pay attention to these next terms. Another one to avoid is saying ‘natural’ child in regard to a baby who is raised by its biological parents. The use of the word ‘natural’ may appear benign, but there is an undercurrent of unfriendliness toward the idea of parenting a non-biological child. To call a child raised by its birth parents’ natural’ is to say that any other method of parenting is ‘unnatural.’ This derogatory language is exactly the type of propaganda that stains the positive narrative of adoption. What you should say instead is simply ‘birth’ or ‘biological’ child.  

Why Negative Language Affects More Women than just Birth Mothers 

Another term to avoid is ‘abandoned’ or ‘unwanted’ child. This places the blame back on the birth mother and contributes to the stigmas of adoption. To say that a baby is ‘unwanted’ implies that the birth mother wishes it weren’t alive, which has sinister implications. Such language not only villanizes but also grossly generalizes birth mothers.

Constructing a false narrative that birth mothers who place babies for adoption wish their babies weren’t alive is harmful. It not only exacerbates the already dubious societal acceptance of adoption, but it targets birth mothers specifically. This can lead to even further generalizations of women as a group. It propagates the expectation that women must be mothers in order to legitimize their gender. The positive language to say instead of ‘abandoned’ or ‘unwanted’ is simply: ‘child placed for adoption.’  

How Negative Language Affects Children 

The next subject for conversation is discussing the ‘legitimacy’ of a child. First of all, to call a child ‘illegitimate’ at all, even in reference to its accidental creation, is offensive and wrong. Just because a child is a surprise does not mean that their existence is ‘illegitimate.’ The correct language to use in place of this is saying, ‘born to unmarried parents.’ This neutrality erases the vindictive nature of ‘illegitimate’ and removes the blame from the child. The child is not responsible for any conflict between their parents. Resultantly, their existence should not be minimized.  

This next one may seem trivial, silly even, but it is just as important as its predecessors. A term to avoid is saying ‘is adopted’ in reference to a child. Instead, the correct positive adoption language to employ is ‘was adopted.’ This subtle yet essential difference highlights an important issue in the adoption community: identity. To say that a child ‘is’ adopted tacks their status as an adoptee onto their identity, whether you intend to or not. The use of the word ‘is’ implies that adoption is an innate part of this child’s identity. Saying ‘is,’ as a matter of fact, separates the child from the parents in a subtle yet undeniable way.

To say that a child ‘is’ adopted reduces that child down to their adoption. However, to say ‘was’ instead of is, says something very different. Saying ‘was’ adopted implies that adoption is something of the past and was an event with a terminal lifespan. It is not attached to the child, nor does it follow them into adulthood. Adoptive families are just as capable of loving their children, regardless of biological relation. The use of ‘is’ attempts to erase all of that.  

In short, positive adoption language is important to uproot the idea that adoption is, in fact, a positive thing. Adoption should be taken seriously, and so should its language.  

Adoption Choices of Oklahoma is a private adoption agency licensed by the state of Oklahoma and a 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: 405-201-6643 | Email

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