Friday, November 8, 2013

The Language of Adoption

Last week, I wrote a blog post about adoption, in which I shared how we adopted our son, Noah.  

Today, I want to talk about adoption again--more specifically, the language of adoption.  

Becoming familiar with the vernacular specific to adoption is essential for people who are thinking about adopting.  But it is also helpful for family and friends who want to be supportive of those who are adopting a child.   

There are a whole host of positive adoption terms.  Here are the words we use most frequently. 

Birth Mother | As the name implies, the woman who gave birth to Noah is his birth mother.  (Some adoptive families use the term biological mother, but we prefer birth mother.)

I'll be honest: When my husband and I first discussed adoption many years ago, the term birth mother was not part of my vocabulary.  Now, years later, having had lots of practice, they roll effortlessly off my tongue.

Adoptive Mother | I'm Noah's adoptive mother, but in our family, I go by "Mom" or "Mama."

I've heard people use the term, "real mother," to describe either the birth mother or the adoptive mother, which is unfortunate.  Using this language is not only hurtful to one of the moms, but can also be confusing for the adoptive child.  Both of the moms are real; both moms are important; both play a role in the child's life. 

Birth Father | We use the term, birth father, to refer to Noah's biological father.

Adoptive Father | Brian is Noah's adoptive father, but around here, he's known as "Dad" or "Dada."   
Birth parent or birth parents are commonly used terms, too. 

Adopting a Baby | Sometimes, I hear people say "she gave her baby away" or "she put her baby up for adoption."  In our family, we prefer to say, "the baby was placed for adoption" or "the birth mother made an adoption plan."

The words are only slightly different, but much more positive and encouraging. 

Adoption is a beautiful and loving and emotional process--and the words we use when talking about it--are so important.

For more information about positive adoption language, click here

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