Just last week, I had five different encounters where perfect strangers asked me about my daughter’s “real parents,” each not meaning to be hurtful, just inquisitive. Luckily, my child isn’t yet old enough to understand or be hurt by those particular words, but I know that day will come.
Every parent of a child that was adopted, particularly children who may not look like their adoptive parents, has received countless questions from friends, family AND strangers about their adoption experience. Often people do not realize that the language they use in these questions is unknowingly offensive to one or more of the parties in the adoption triad (birth family, adoptive parents and child).
It is also important to understand the right language to use while a prospective adoptive family goes through the process of adoption.
The following list can help people utilize the most positive, and least offensive, terminology when discussing adoption related topics:
Positive Language Negative Language
Birth Parent/Expectant Parent Real Parent
Birth Child Own Child
Biological Parent Natural Parent
My Child Adopted Child; Own Child
Born to Unmarried Parents Illegitimate
Place Give Up
Make an Adoption Plan Take Away
To Parent To Keep
Waiting Child Adoptable Child; Available Child
Parent Adoptive Parent
Child Placed for Adoption An Unwanted Child
Court Termination Child Taken Away
Child with Special Needs Handicapped Child
Was Adopted Is Adopted