Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Positive Adoption Language

               (Thanks for stopping by!  This is Day 15 in a series about Our Adoption Adventure.   To start reading from the beginning, click here.)

            We learned many lessons during Our Adoption Adventure, one was how important words are. Years ago adoption was something to be ashamed of or kept a secret, even in families. Today, there is no shame in adoption. It is one of the ways God builds families. More and more families are adopting and it is becoming more common. There are still misconceptions about adoption though. These misconceptions show up in some of the words we use. Some words leave a negative impression about adoption. Some leave a positive impression. Especially, when we are talking in front of a child who was adopted or their family, please us words that are positive. We never want to make a child feel ‘less than’ or second best. Adoption is a beautiful, miraculous God ordained idea and we want to encourage positive feelings in the child and the families.
This chart was adapted from
Positive Language                                                 Negative Language
Birthparent                                                                              Real parent
Biological parent                                                                 Natural parent
Birth child                                                                                   Own child
My child                                                                                Adopted child
Born to unmarried parents                                                        Illegitimate
Terminate parental rights                                                               Give up
Make an adoption plan                                                              Give away
To parent                                                                                       To keep
Waiting child                                             Adoptable child; available child
Biological or birthfather                                                            Real father
Making contact with                                                                      Reunion
Parent                                                                               Adoptive parent
Child placed for adoption                                              An unwanted child
Court termination                                                            Child taken away
Was adopted                                                                             Is adopted

         There are many others that could be added to the list. The comment I get the most is, “Where are the ‘real parents?’  The adoptive parents are always the ‘real parents.’ The word that should be used, (but never, ever asked in front of the child, please) is ‘birth parents.’ Also, it is a question that does not need to be asked, and is often awkward for the parent. They may not know where the birth parent is. The birth parent could be in prison, in an addiction, or living on the streets. There is a reason they are not in the picture.   
                                      What words would you add to this list?

Colossians 4:6 – “Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best   in others in conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.”                (The Message Bible)

***** To read Day 16 click here. ***


  1. Great list. It's the little things that make a huge difference.

  2. You welcome! Thanks for reading!

  3. Words do make a big difference! Thank you for sharing this list!

    1. You are welcome Barbara! It is not an exhaustive list, but a start.