The following article was taken from the Georiga Agape website.
Positive Adoptive Language
One reality which holds true most often is that things change over time. This is certainly true in the field of
adoption. Adoption practices and attitudes have changed, especially over the past 30 years. As change
has come to adoption, we better understand the importance of adoption language. This needs to keep up
with contemporary concepts. We all know that language conveys both obvious and subtle messages. We
also know that some words and phrases are not only outdated, they can also be
viewed as being negative and inappropriate and conveying messages that are not
Positive adoption language is a concept to encourage favorable, sensitive, positive
and non-judgmental perspectives toward adoption. Positive adoption language is a vocabulary relating to
adoption which reflects the highest respect and dignity for those involved in adoption.
Sometimes we hear people describe the placing of a child for adoption as “giving up a child” and “giving
away a child”. That can convey messages that birth parents are irresponsible, don’t care and that the
decision for adoption is not well thought out. That is why we like to use the term “making an adoption
We often hear people refer to birth parents as being the “real” parent or the “natural” parent. This can
convey that adoptive parents are somehow not “real” or “natural” and devalues them as if they are
artificial. That is why we use the term “birth parents.”
Sometimes we hear people refer to a child born out of wedlock as an “illegitimate” child or an “unwanted”
child. We believe all children are legitimate and wanted. We don’t like those terms being used.
Again, these examples highlight the need to be sensitive about the language we use to ensure we speak
positively and non-judgmentally about adoption.