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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 more 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'll reflect the true nature of adoption, free of innuendo.

Positive LanguageNegative Language
BirthparentReal parent
Biological parentNatural parent
Birth childOwn child
My childAdopted child; Own child
Born to unmarried parentsIllegitimate
Terminate parental rightsGive up
Make an adoption planGive away
To parentTo keep
Waiting childAdoptable child; Available child
Biological fatherBegettor
Making contact withReunion
ParentAdoptive parent
International adoptionForeign adoption
Adoption triadAdoption triangle
Permission lo sign a releaseDisclosure
SearchTrack down parents
Child placed for adoptionAn unwanted child
Court terminationChild taken away
Child with special needsHandicapped child
Child from abroadForeign child
Was adoptedIs 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 birth parents 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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