Sunday, March 6, 2011

Positive Adoption Language

Since we are still waiting for THE CALL to bring our daughters home, I though I would do a Sunday series that shares some of the many things we have learned about adoption along the way. We can't speak from actual experience at this point, but what I share will come from those who have gone through this before us.

Our first step on our adoption journey began with a one day International Adoption Seminar in Toronto, Ontario presented by Sofie Stergianis of Adoption Resources. (Let me just say that she is positively fantabulous!!)

One of the first things we learned at the seminar was positive adoption language. We didn't know all this stuff either when we started, so don't panic if you read something and think , "oh no, I've totally blown it with a particular adoptive family." As adoptive families, we know that most people are only curious, interested in adopting themselves, or are just trying to be nice. Unfortunately most negative adoption language is learned through the media, so if you've used some of these words phrases before, don't kick yourself. It's a learning curve. Believe me, I still catch myself using improper adoption language on occasion and want to kick myself!

Without further ado:

Positive Language                                                       Negative Language

Birthparent                                                                     Real parent
Biological parent                                                            Natural parent
Birth child/ Biological child                                             Own child
My child                                                                        Adopted child/ Own 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 father                                                             Begetter
Making contact with                                                       Reunion
Parent                                                                            Adoptive parent
International adoption                                                     Foreign adoption
Adoption triad                                                               Adoption triangle
Permission to sign a release                                            Disclosure
Search                                                                           Track down parents
Child placed for adoption                                               An unwanted child
Court termination                                                           Child taken away
Child with special needs                                                 Handicapped child
Child from abroad                                                          Foreign child
Was adopted                                                                 Is adopted

As you can see the list is pretty extensive, so as I've said before, don't beat yourself up if you've used improper adoption language. The key is to remember not to use it next time :o). Next Sunday I'll do a post on the things you should never say to an adoptive family.



  1. Hey Deborah,

    If you want to link to my list of the Top 10 Things Parents of Internationally Adopted Children Want You To Know, feel free. It's at

  2. I am so thrilled you are doing this. A family at our church has adopted many, many, many children. One of the boys is an absolutely sweetheart that I adore, but I have always been hesitant to really ask anything about his prior life (like what country he's even from!) for fear of making a major mistake with my words.

  3. Always so thoughtful! Thank you for the education. I truly appreciate your insight and will look forward to next Sunday's post.

  4. Thanks for sharing this is great information to know ~ Still praying for your family. Did I tell you my husband was working in the Philippians this week. I enjoyed your post!! ~Love Heather

  5. Great list...I have heard MANY people refer to the adoption journey as "a project" (even by other adoptive parents which REALLY gets under my skin). My child is not "a project"...but there is definitely a journey to meet my child. The most wonderful journey(s) of my life!!!

    Thanx for sharing!

    Jess :-)

  6. Love this list. And on the next post, please include that people shouldn't ask you how much your child cost! I'm just sayin'...;-)

  7. Consider it done, Agnes :o)! We've already been asked that one a couple of times.


  8. So excited for you! I can't wait to hear that you will be traveling to be with your new daughters!!!


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