Words not only convey facts, they also evoke feelings.
Have you seen a TV show mention a child's “real parents” and “other parents”? Of course, we know that biological and adoptive parents are all "real" parents.
Or have you read a news article where a young woman "gave up" her child? The birth mom community at Birth Mother Baskets created a video in response to that commonly-used phrase. They placed their children for adoption. They chose adoption.
Accurate adoption language can help stop the spread of misconceptions. By using accurate language, we educate others about adoption. It allows us to have real, meaningful conversations without inadvertently using judgmental or hurtful phrasing.
Of course, "accurate" language is subjective and always evolving, and you should choose words that feel right to you. For example, a person who is adopted may refer to himself as an "adoptee" and a birth mother may refer to herself as a "first parent." Other people may use completely different terminology—and that's okay. No one's perspective of their own adoption experience is wrong.
Below are some suggestions from across our adoption community. What are your thoughts?
|Instead of this...||Consider this...|
|Real parent||Birth parent / Biological parent|
|Own child / Real child||Birth child / Biological child|
|Adopted child||My child|
|Adoptee||Person or individual who was adopted|
|Is adopted||Was adopted|
|Give away / Adopt out / Give up / Put up||Make an adoption plan / Choose adoption / Place for adoption|
|To keep the child||To parent the child|
|Unwanted or problem pregnancy||Unintended pregnancy|
|Illegitimate||Born to unmarried parents|
|Adoptable child / Unwanted child||Child in need of a family|
|Handicapped child / Hard to place||Child who has special needs|