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The Best Language to Use When Discussing Adoption

In this article, we will discuss what it means to use positive adoption language. When it comes to adopting, it is best to avoid phrases such as “I’m buying a child”. Adoption is a life changing process for children and parents worldwide! If you are new to the adoption process or if you have adopted previously, these key phrases will help you throughout your adoption process. Using these phrases can also help you to explain your situation to your family members or anyone you may know that is personally considering adoption.

To explain these best phrases, see our list of typically referred to adoption phrases and how they should be rephrased. Each negative word has a corresponding positive word which you can see from the list. For example, “real parent” – Negative Language should be replaced with “birth parent” – Positive Language.

Negative LanguagePositive Language
Adoptable or Available ChildWaiting Child
Adopted ChildMy Child
Adoptive ParentParent
Adoptive TriangleAdoptive Triad or Adoption Triad
BegetterBirth or Biological Father
DisclosurePermission to Sign a Release
Give UpTerminate Parental Rights
Give up BabyPlace Baby
Give up BabyRelinquishment
IllegitimateBorn to Unmarried Parents
Is AdoptedWas Adopted
Natural ParentBiological Parent
Own ChildBirth Child
Put up BabyPlace Baby
Real ParentBirth Parent
Real Mom or DadBirth Mother or Father
Take AwayMake an Adoption Plan
To KeepTo Parent
Track down ParentsSearch

Sometimes, parents can be sensitive when it comes to the topic of adoption and how others describe the process. Taking small steps such as using appropriate adoption language can help to ensure that adoption can be seen as something positive for all that are included in the process. For more information on how to address appropriate adoption language and to speak with someone on any questions regarding the adoption process, please contact Adoption Choices of Kansas at 1-877-903-4488

Hopeful Adoptive Families, please contact us online here!

Author Bio: Hello! My name is Jason and I am an Editorial Intern for Adoption Choices for the Summer of 2020! I am a rising senior English major studying at Siena College in Loudonville, New York! I am originally from the Albany, New York area, but have plans to relocate to sunny Venice, Florida with my mom! Upon completion of my bachelor’s degree, I plan to study General Special Education at Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina to earn my Master’s degree where I plan to teach middle school level Special Education! 

I am 20 years old and have a unique family, thus why I became interested in interning for Adoption Choices! My parents have been divorced since I was around 7 or 8 years old and currently I live with my mom and my younger sister (17) lives with my dad. I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at the age of 3 which is a form of Autism that makes it harder for me to communicate with others in person.

I am also extremely introverted, but I really enjoy writing, thus why I chose to major in English. I also want to co-teach English in the future (two teachers teach in one classroom).  I perform very well academically and want to ultimately get my Master’s degree in Special Education so I can help others with disabilities in the classroom setting. I’m looking forward to interning and learning more about the adoption process, while also being able to teach you along the way!

Best, Editorial Intern Jason 


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