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.



Real mother, natural mother


Real parent, natural parent

Birth parent

Adopted child

Child or child by adoption

Real, natural or own child

Child or biological child

Gave up for adoption

Placed for adoption

Kept her baby

Chose to parent her baby

Handicapped, disabled child

Special needs child