Adoption is an extremely sensitive matter for families. And when it comes to sensitive issues, it’s important to be aware of word choice and usage, especially around children. Unfortunately, many words that are commonly used to describe virtually every aspect of the adoption process can carry negative connotations. When those words are used in front of children or even other adults, they can create an atmosphere of confusion and propagate misconceptions about adoption.
Appropriate adoption language is vital for parents and children to view the act as the loving, selfless act that it is. If you’re interested in adopting, remember the following tips about positive vs. negative language and why it’s important to be mindful of the differences in your conversations and communications:
Language concerning parents
Two potentially damaging and negative terms used to describe the parents of adopted children are “real parent” or “natural parent.” Instead of those terms, say “birth parent” or “biological parent.” Similarly, the term “adoptive parent” can make parents who choose to adopt children seem somehow less capable or legitimate than biological parents. Simply use the word “parent” instead.
Language concerning the adoption process
Making the decision to begin the adoption process is difficult for everyone involved. Choosing accurate language can help eliminate confusion. That means using terms such as “finding a family to parent your child” instead of “putting your child up for adoption” and “child in need of a family” instead of “adoptable child.”
Language concerning children
Children are the most vulnerable to negative and inaccurate language. That’s why it’s extremely important to use the correct terminology throughout their lives. Examples include using phrases such as “birth child” instead of “own child,” “my child” instead of “adopted child,” and “person who was adopted” instead of “adoptee.”
Not everyone is familiar with adoption—including Hollywood screenwriters and even popular authors. That’s why potentially negative terminology continues to be used concerning adoption. By knowing the difference between positive and negative language and using appropriate words and phrases, you can help stop misconceptions, myths, and misunderstandings concerning adoption.
Choosing the right language is just one aspect of adoption that requires care and attention. There are a myriad of other issues to consider, and it helps to have an advocate on your side as you navigate the process. Contact Adoption Law Center of Middle Tennessee today to get an experienced resource that can help you complete your family.