Language is a beautiful thing and can cause us to have tears of joy or to bring us to our knees to weep. It is so powerful at times that we don’t even realize that the words we are using will have such an impact on the person we are speaking to. Most of the time we are overly aware of the words we choose because we want to be sensitive to our audience, but what if we don’t know that the words we are choosing could give the wrong impression? This tends to be the case with trying to use positive adoption language when speaking about adoptive families, birth families, and adoptees.
Words can convey details, but they can also provoke an emotional response in people. Sometimes people who do not know the appropriate language can cause a negative emotional response to someone who is part of the adoption triad. Using terms like “real parent” or “giving a child away for adoption” can make a person feel uneasy and insecure in their adoption story. The correct terms would be “birth parent” and “place a child for adoption.”
Now, you might be wondering why we are always so mindful of the words we choose, and the reason is that we want to ensure that we honor every person involved in the adoption process. Using language such as “real parent” takes away from the adoptive family and their critical role in the adoption triad. We don’t want to dismiss the fact that they are parents too. Saying that a birth parent will “give a baby away” is also a less positive way of saying that a birth parent has decided to “place a baby for adoption.” It is necessary to acknowledge that adoption is never an easy decision, so using such words as “give away” makes it appear that a birth parent didn’t struggle with their decision, because in reality they certainly did.
We hope this gives you some insight as to why speaking fluently in the adoption language is so important to all parties involved, and we are always happy to help you along the way to develop your skills! If you are in need some more positive adoption language please do not hesitate to call our office to inquire about some resources that may be helpful for you and your family! Let the positivity continue!