The Right Words To Use

Using words that are neutral or positive when talking about adoption is one small thing that we can all do to encourage positive attitudes about adoption. Adoptive families, like blended families, stepfamilies and biological families are all different forms of the same thing — families!

People use words that they are taught to use and that they hear used by others. They may use negative adoption language because they do not know the more correct words to use when talking about adoption. Adoptive parents will, by circumstance, become educators about adoption.

By using positive language when talking about adoption, they can subtly enhance the status of adoptive families in their own community. The following are some examples of negative adoption language and suggestions for positive alternatives.

NEGATIVEPOSITIVE
Real mother, natural motherBirth mother
Real parent, natural parentBirth parent
Adopted childChild or child by adoption
Real, natural or own childChild or biological child
Gave up for adoptionPlaced for adoption
Kept her babyChose to parent her baby
Handicapped, disabled childSpecial needs child