It’s that time of year. You’ve committed to that diet. This will be the year you stop drying laundry on the treadmill and start running on it. And you’re going to start paying more attention to recycling. But how about a new year’s resolution related to adoption?
Words can be very powerful things. Although you may not know it, some of the adoption language commonly heard today can actually have a very negative effect on adoption, as well as adopted children, adoptive families and birth parents.
The way we speak about adoption helps others form their opinion of adoption. It can also impact how an adopted child feels about their adoption and their identity. For example, referring to your child as your “adopted son” or “adopted daughter” could make them feel as if they don’t truly belong to your family, a feeling that could greatly impact a child’s self-esteem.
In addition, one very commonly used phrase regarding birth parents is that they “gave up” or “gave away” their child for adoption. This negative term implies that the birth parents didn’t care about their child – when, in reality, birth parents choose adoption out of nothing but love for their child. Instead of this negative language, say that a birth parent “placed their child for adoption” or that they “made an adoption plan.” This positive language more accurately reflects the situation, without painting a negative picture of birth parents.
According the U.S. Census, 1 in 25 households with children has at least one adopted child. An even greater ratio of people have certainly been touched by adoption through friends and extended families.
That’s why we’re promoting the use of positive adoption language as a new year’s resolution. It’s up to us to change the conversation among our friends and families and in our schools and communities. Below is a list of some commonly used negative adoption language and the positive phrases that should be used in their place:
Negative: Real parent
Positive: Birth parent, birth mother, birth father
Negative: Give up/give away child for adoption
Positive: Place child for adoption, make an adoption plan
Negative: To keep
Positive: To parent
Negative: Unwanted child
Positive: Child placed for adoption
Negative: Is adopted
Positive: Was adopted
Negative: Adoptive parent
Positive: Child with special needs
Positive: Born to unmarried parents
Make 2012 the year that the adoption conversation changes!