Sunday, November 29, 2009

Positive Adoption Language

Sometimes the terminology society uses has underlying innuendos and meanings that are negative and possibly harmful. Many common terms used when talking about adoption are those type of negative terms. Here are some of those terms and alternatives to use to break down stereotypes and negative connotations about adoption.

(sorry about the formatting.)

Negative term................................................Say this instead
Gave up (or put up) for adoption                    Placed for adoption
                                                                             or made an adoption plan
Real or natural parent                                       Biological or birth parent
Adoptive parent                                                Parent
Adopted child                                                   Child
Is adopted                                                        Was adopted
Keep baby                                                         Parent baby
Own or real child                                              Biological child
Track down                                                      Make contact with
Unwanted child                                                 Child placed for adoption
Illegetimate child                                              Born to
                                                                          unmarried parents

Those are just a few. I wasn't aware of these things until our first adoption class in Boise and I still slip up a lot. This language totally makes sense. The "negative" term I am most sensitive about is "gave up for adoption." After talking to several birth mothers, not one of them thinks they "gave their baby away". What they did was very courageous and loving. It's an easy flub because that is how society has always phrased it. I always said it too! But it really drives me crazy when people who should know better say it. Like there is this show on We TV called "The Locator" where an expert named Troy Dunn helps adopted children find their birth parents and vice versa. This guy is also an LDS bishop, by the way. Anyway, it drives me nuts that on the show they use the terms "gave your baby away" or "gave your baby up". As a modern show that is meant to be a feel-good program, it's just backwards for them to use that terminology.

Okay, that's my soap box.

Sorry for the lack of posts. We've been partying in Cody, Wyoming, with family for Thanksgiving and I've found myself playing Scattegories late into the night rather than blogging. :)


Liz Smith said...

this is an excellent post which i found very helpful. i know i have for sure made a lot of these slip-ups so this is something i will definitely work on.

and i have to say, based on your recent comment on my blog, i LOVE christmas vacation!!! you can ask jared; it is definitely my favorite christmas movie...except at my house, the tradition was to watch it on Christmas Eve so that's what i do...i love it! :D

Anonymous said...

Hi Lara, cool blog and beautiful family! You are blessed!
Thought I would drop in and post a comment about your most recent blog.
Adoption terminology is highly over-rated and significantly misunderstood. There is no right or wrong answer, only personal preference.
For example, two of my very good friends are black. One of them refers to himself as "black", while the other insists on being referred to as "african american". I respect both of their requests and use whatever term makes them most comfortable when we are together. They each have their reasons for their preference and I respect them both.
So goes it with members of the triad. (Another term which some like and some loathe)
So when you see me on the 'Locaotr' show using various versions of the 'adoption terminology', I am merely reflecting the preference of those whom I am with. I do have my own personal list of preferred terms, but those are irrelevant when I am with others who's lives are the center of our efforts. At those moments, it is their world and I am just spinning on it.
Terms come and go. Respect is forever.
Adoption is awesome. Birth mothers are heroes, adoptive mothers are god-sent and adoptees deserve the option to know them both. (IMHO)
Keep up the excellent blog and remember... "you can't find peace until you find all the pieces". :-)

Troy Dunn
"The Locator"

H A L to the G's Ma said...

My best friend placed 2 babies up for adoption and it took me a couple years to not say "put up". She said the word placed is more loving. Like if you were to place something up on a shelf you are more gentle than if you were to just put something up on a shelf. I love that I have been someone who has been there. My Father-in-law was adopted and I really don't have much experience with it. i'm so grateful for all your posts this month, they have really opened my mind up and taught me so many things. Thank You. P.S. Your little Joci is so beautiful. I could just eat her up!


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