Words Matter: Adoption Terminology

If you’re walking through an adoption journey, chances are you may have gotten a question or comment from someone who had good intentions but the terminology they used ended up being hurtful or frustrating to you.

“Is this your real child?”

“Why was he/she put up for adoption?”

“Were you unable to have children of your own?”

Maybe you’re on the other end of it and you’ve had a friend or family member (or maybe even a stranger you met in line at the grocery store) who has adopted and you’ve made a comment similar to one of those above.

First, please know that you are not alone with either of those situations. Before my own journey to adopt, I’m sure there were many questions or comments I used that stemmed from my curiosity and genuine interest but came off as misinformed. It wasn’t until my own adoption process that I truly understood how much words can either be life giving or tearing down when it comes to adoptive parents, birth parents, and adoptees.

If you’re an adoptive parent, you get the beautiful opportunity to show grace and remember that you were once in the dark with positive adoption language as well. The goal is to help educate a curious world and not harshly correct them.

If you aren’t an adoptive parent but have a friend or family member walking through the adoption process, take the time to learn how you can better love and support them with the words and questions you use. Remember, words are powerful!

We’ve put together a list that we hope will be helpful to use when navigating positive adoption language: