Positive adoption language is a carefully selected use of words that demonstrates the importance of adoption. Using positive adoption language, we can fight the negative stigma sometimes lingering in society about adoption. Positive language was first established in 1979 by a Minneapolis social worker named Marietta Spencer. The purpose of positive adoption language is to embrace adoption, build self-esteem, and honor everyone involved in the adoption process.

 

Positive language is a unique verbiage that is specific to adoption. It should be used regularly when addressing topics that involve adoption. By using positive adoption language, we can help abolish common myths that adoption is in any way a negative process. Many terms used today regarding adoption can be very offensive or disrespectful to those involved in adoption, so using these terms is also a form of respect to all involved in an adoption.

 

Why Is Positive Adoption Language Important?

Positive adoption language is important in educating others about adoption and the process it involves. Many people are not familiar with adoption, and this can cause negative stereotypes and stigmas. Positive language honors the birth family and values the parents. Additionally, adoption language protects confidential information.

It’s important not to forget that adoption is a way of creating a family and bringing people together. Positive language is a way to show support of this decision and respect adoptive families. There is no need for parents to mention that their child is adopted if they do not wish to do so, as it makes them no less of a real family. Using positive adoption language is an important way of representing adoption, educating society, and honoring families of all kinds.

Adoption language also helps increase self-esteem and build worth. We sometimes forget that words have the power to shape the way we see things, and therefore it is so important that we use positive language when referring to adoption.

 

The Effects of Negative Adoption Language

Certain terms that are often used when speaking about adoption can be offensive to those involved in the adoption process. There are more positive terms we can use that accurately represent the adoption process and respect those involved.

For example, we can use the term “birth parents” instead of “real parents”. Referring to the birth parents as the “real parents” implies that the parents who are or have adopted aren’t “real” parents. This can be highly disrespectful and offensive, as well as damaging to the family unit as it may cause confusion in young children.

It’s also important to keep in mind that birth parents don’t “give up” or “give away” their child; instead they “choose adoption” or “place for adoption”. This is a positive way of referring to the difficult, yet selfless decision birth parents make when choosing adoption.

Using the term “keeping” when a mother chooses to not place her child for adoption diminishes the decision a birth mother must make between choosing adoption and choosing to parent.

 

Examples of Positive Adoption Language

Positive Language                                         Negative Language

Birth Parent

Real Parents

Parent

Adopted Parent

International Adoption

Foreign Adoption

To Parent

To Keep

Child Placed for Adoption

Unwanted Child

Child with Special Needs

Handicapped Child

Adoption Triad

Adoption Triangle

Was Adopted

Is Adopted