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

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