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As adoption professionals, we have to remember that not everyone is familiar with positive and current adoption language. However, we still cringe a little when we hear “give up for adoption” when referring to an adoption plan. That phrase is commonly used in the mainstream dialogue, and it carries a negative connotation. “Give up” implies a dismissive, quick decision. The adoption community encourages the term “Place for adoption” because it describes the deliberate thought and planning that goes into an adoption plan. We work with birth parents that are meticulous in selecting a family for their child. They consider open adoption, religion, and lifestyle of the family. Giving up does not describe all the effort that goes into a thoughtful adoption plan.
The way we talk and the words we choose say a lot about what we think and value. When we use respectful adoption language, we affirm that adoption is a positive way to build a family. Using positive adoption language can also stop the spread of misconceptions. Here are some of the most common phrases that misrepresent adoption in mainstream adoption dialogues:
Real or natural parents vs. birth parents, biological parents
Let’s think about what real parents do: they kiss booboos, they help with homework, and they are patient during toddler meltdowns. They are there for the daily routines, as well as the monumental trials and joys that come with parenting.
Keep baby vs. choosing to parent
When birth parents decide not to pursue adoption planning for their baby, they have chosen to parent their child. When someone says “keep,” that implies that birth parents “give away” their child, which is not what birth parents do when they make an adoption plan. As mentioned before, making an adoption plan is a selfless, thoughtful, and loving decision.
For further information about positive adoption language, please read this article: Speaking Positively: Using Respectful Adoption Language By Patricia Irwin Johnston.
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