Choose the following positive language instead of the negative language 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 LANGUAGE||NEGATIVE LANGUAGE|
|Birthparent||Real parent, natural parent|
|Biological parent||Natural parent|
|My child||My adopted child, my own child, a child of my own|
|Child with special needs||Hard-to-place child, handicapped child|
|Child from abroad||Foreign child|
|Was adopted||Is adopted|
|Make an adoption plan, choose adoption||Give up, give away, surrender, relinquish, place the child|
|Child entrusted to adoptive parents||Child placed for adoption, unwanted child|
|To parent||To keep|
|Born to unmarried parents||Illegitimate|
|Waiting child||Adoptable child, free child, available child|
|International adoption||Foreign adoption|
|Adoption triad||Adoption triangle|
|Permission to sign a release||Disclosure|
|Search, locate||Track down parents|
|Making contact with||Reunion|
|Terminate parental rights||Give up|
|Court termination||Child taken away|
|The adoption||The placement|
is your child from?
did you get your child?
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 birthparents 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 language with the hopes of impacting others so that this language will someday become the norm.
Marc Widelock, CA Adoption Attorney
copyright 1989 - 2025
California ~ Pacific Time