Today I was cleaning out one of my filing cabinets and I came across a stack of papers from our first adoption five years ago. Of course it sidetracked my cleaning and I sat in my office and read through all the papers. Most of the information I was aware of from our years of being in the adoption world, but some of it was very new and real to me now as we parent Amos.
One thing I did come across was interesting to me and I'd love to get your feedback on it. It is a list of positive adoption language. I admit when we first began this adoption journey I was psycho about adoption language. I would get so mad if someone called Deacon's first mom “mom” instead of “birth mom” or “first mom”. Now I could care less. He knows I'm his mom and he also knows that she is his mom too. She birthed him and carried him, I'll gladly share the name with her. We talk about her all the time and have pictures of her in house. It doesn't get to me like it used to. I wrote about that journey a long time ago HERE and HERE. There is one thing that still bothers me and that's when people refer to Cayden as our own child and the others as the adopted ones. That urks me. They are all real and they are all mine. 🙂 I don't get angry with the person, but the conversation usually goes like this after they find out we have adopted:
Stranger: Do you have any children of your own?
Me: yes they are all my own. One through birth and 3 through adoption.
That does it. They get the point. I'm not rude, but I'm just clarifying the reality of what they asked. 🙂
Anyhow here is the list on the paper I found of POSITIVE ADOPTION LANGUAGE. I will list what they listed as the negative adoption language first and beside it the positive adoption language.
Negative Adoption Language — Positive Adoption Language
Real Parent — Birthparent
Natural Parent — Biological Parent
Own Child — Birth Child
Adopted Child; Own child — My child
Illegitimate — Born to unmarried parents
Give up — Terminate parental rights
Give away — Make an adoption plan
Adoptable child; available child — Waiting child
Begettor — Biological father
Reunion — making contact with parent
Foreign adoption — International adoption
adoption triangle — adoption triad
Disclosure — Permission to sign a release
Track down parents — Search
An unwanted child — Child placed for adoption
Child taken away — court termination
Handicapped child — Child with special needs
Foreign child — Child from abroad
Is adopted — was adopted
There you go. What do you think about these? Any of them stupid to you? Any of them valid to you? There are some that I agree with and some I think are kinda foolish, but I'm not adoption counselor either. 🙂
If you are an adoptive parent or child that was adopted I'd love to hear your least favorite question you get asked! This should be fun!
*Photo by Jason Kovacs
Oh, he’s adopted? I thought he was your own.
“He is mine.”
PS. I like the verbage. Thanks.
I’m with you Jamie . . . I think some of the list is valid and makes sense and some of it seems a bit over the top to me.
The question that I hate getting the most is the classic “So when are you guys going to have real kids?”. As if my adopted children are just a cheap substitute until my husband and I wise up and have some biological children. Ugh! :S It also bothers me when I get asked personal questions about my children’s biological family (they were adopted from foster care and came from troubled bio-families) in front of them. People who would otherwise never ask personal questions for some reason feel completely comfortable asking all about the checkered past that my kiddos came from – in front of them.
I love how you respond when people ask you if you have any children of your own! I will definitely use that in the future!
Love the blog!
It bugs me when people ask about my “real parents” e.g., do you know your real parents? Have you searched for your real parents? do you ever want to find your real parents? etc.
I always respond, “you mean the ones who raised me for the last [insert age here] years? or my birth parents?”
Thanks for the post!
I’m encouraged by this post. Our pastor and his wife recently adopted their 3rd and 4th children. Their eldest child is their birth child, their 2nd was adopted several years ago. Anyway, my children were talking about their family the other day and one of my kids was explainingg to a younger sibling about our pastor’s family saying that Josiah (the oldest) was their own and the other three were adopted. I corrected her by saying that all 4 children are their own, Josiah by birth and the others through adoption, but they are ALL their own. It can be tricky handling all the phrasology, but I think it *does* matter.
I don’t like “How much did that cost you guys?”
And, “You guys did such a wonderful thing, she is so lucky”
The last question is not a bad thing just not sure what to say, do you ever get that, usually we hear that from non-christian people we see at a grocery store. I usually say, “well we’re the lucky ones” but that sounds so cheesy to me. Any other one liners I could say instead?
I just respond in conversation, like you do, with the correct verbage. I realize most people just don’t know that the things they are saying could sound hurtful. Most people don’t know what it’s like to be adopted.
I don’t either.
So, some of those things listed above, I can now actually discuss with my kids. If someone uses one of those phrases, I gently correct in conversation and we discuss it at home. Some things even THEY don’t care about … right now. But they have permission to care or not as they grow. What may not be a big deal at all at age 10, may sting like fire at age 16. That reminds us that negative adoption language hurts someone, somewhere, all the time. Makes it worth the effort.
My least favorite question, usually asked within earshot of my children, was “Are they your foster kids?” Or, “What happened to them that they had to be adopted?” I haven’t had those questions since I moved to Illinois from Virginia (it was an inter-racial adoption for both children).
I also don’t like “Oh, those children are so lucky to have you.” I usually answer that we were the ones blessed to be their parents.
I get the “Don’t you want to have any more “real” children ?” all the time…but the one that really shocked me was a lady asking me this question when we were in the adoption process:” Aren’t you worried that if you adopt a girl, Micah ( our biological son)might fall in love with her? That would be so messed up, don’t you think???” I was speechless…and still am…
i think it’d be interesting to ask an adoptee this question also.I know a woman who uses “gave me away” and she is adopted. she is fine with the terminology. but she grew up before all the PC.
was adopted/is adopted…i was on the phone today and i was stumbling all over this…i think this one is a bit particular.
favorite question…Aren’t there any children here to adopt? OR
weren’t there any children to adopt in Michigan?
I never ask back, but want to, “why did you choose to have another biological baby when there are already children who need families?”
I’m not sure why people feel they can ask adoptive parents so many questions.
It bothers me when they say, “did you know that there is a basket shaped like a baseball on your kid’s head?”. Aside from that, people here mostly give us funny looks and stay quiet.
My adopted twins are biracial. My least favorite question when they were babies was “What are they?” People wanted to know what race/races they were and didn’t know how to ask. I always answered, “boys” and walked away. Now people ask if they were born in the US. I understand that people are curious.
People also say stuff like, “You’re doing a great job with them.” (who says that to biological parents about their kids) and “They are so lucky that you adopted them.” (as others have commented) I usually say, “It wasn’t luck. God made us a family.”
begettor?! i don’t even know what that means!
“is she adopted?”……….
“she WAS adopted”
I completely agree with the last one. I never
say “this is my birthed son/daughter”or “this is my adopted daughter”.
they are all simply my children. They were birthed/adopted once, they
are not currently in the act of being either. I think they are currently in act
of making me crazy!!ha
I am still pretty new to this, we are only 2 months and 2 days into it, but I do get so very angry when my son refers to his birth mom as his “real mom” I want to scream and rage about that. At the same time I feel bad because I can’t believe I am being that petty. But every time he uses that phrase, I just say, “Oh, your birth mom?” I don’t ever make a big deal about it to him. Today I had a major victory in my eyes. He was saying something about her and he said “my r…birth mom” YAY! And I didn’t have to say a thing!
We did actually have someone come up to us and say, “OH! Are they having a sleep over?” (Referring to my two sons) I thought that was a really weird question.
Love your blog! This might seem strange, but I just saw that you commented on The Archibald Project’s photo of Bethel China. I work for Bethel, so I did a little happy dance when I saw that you knew about us via TAP. I or one of my colleagues would love to connect with you about promoting adoption or child sponsorship at Bethel on your blog, if you’re interested. 🙂 We’re really trying to raise awareness about adoption for visually impaired kids!
Thanks so much for your honesty and openness!