The way we use words and the words we use can passively or actively affect people, and more so, they are a mirror into the way we think. In time, the language we use can shape thinking so we need to be careful about the words we use especially as parents. Using positive adoption language is, simply put, using respectful language when addressing members of the adoption circle. The main premise of positive adoption language is that adoption is a completely valid way of having a family. So here are some answers to the most common questions about positive adoption language.
Positive Adoption Language - what is it?
Positive adoption language means more than just being politically correct. Its purpose is to embrace the true spirit of adoption, to build self-esteem, and to show respect for all involved in an adoption process. Many adoptive families choose the use of positive adoption language to combat all negative and inaccurate language descriptions of adoption.
Why is Positive Adoption Language so Important?
The fact that a person is adopted should be mentioned only if it is essential to the story. If it is mentioned, the relevance should be clear in the context of the story. This doesn't mean that adoption is something you don't want to talk about, it is just a reminder of how it is one of many events in your life and it shouldn't be considered as anything bigger or of greater importance.
How Should Positive Adoption Language be Used?
The best way to present positive adoption language is by illustrating how it should be used. Here are some examples:
- A child who has joined a family through adoption is simply your son or your daughter. It is not necessary to mention adoption or refer to a child as an adopted child since that might mean you don't accept him or her as a true part of your family. If it is necessary to mention adoption, use the phrase, “She/he is adopted,” not “She/he was adopted.”
- Adopted parents are raising a baby and by that, they should be referred to as the father, mother, and parents. The genetic parents of a child can be referred as the birth or biological parents, not as real or natural parents.
- Avoid words like abandoned, given up, or unwanted. In general, this does not accurately describe the actions of the birthparents.
- Infertility often plays a role in the adoption process. If so, avoid language suggestions that the parents couldn't have a baby of their own. That implies that the baby they have adopted is not theirs, although it is by law and by love.
What is important to take out from all this is that in most cases the parents of a child, adopted or not, are parents because they want a child. They are not different than any other parents and should be treated equally. The way we talk and the words we use can in their cases be insensitive and imply inequality. And that is why positive adoption language is so important. By using it, we pass good values onto others and promote adoption as a beautiful way of having a family.