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Positive Adoption Language

The way we talk - and the words we choose - say a lot about what we think and value. When we use positive adoption language, we say that adoption is a way to build a family in the same way we say that birth is a way to build a family.

Positive adoption language can stop the spread of misconceptions. By using positive adoption language, we educate others about adoption. We choose emotionally "correct" words over emotion-laden words. We speak and write in positive adoption language with the hopes of impacting others so that this language will someday become the norm.

Choose the following, positive adoption language instead of negative terms that help perpetuate the myth that adoption is second best. By using positive adoption language, you'll reflect the true nature of adoption, free of innuendo.

Positive Language Negative Language
Birth parent Real parent
Biological parent Natural parent
Birth child Own child
My child Adopted child
Born to unmarried parents Illegitimate
Terminate parental rights Give up
Make an adoption plan Give away
To parent To keep
Waiting child Adoptable child
Making contact with Reunion
Parent Adoptive parent
Search Track down parents
Child placed for adoption Unwanted child
Court termination Child taken away
Child with special needs Handicapped child
Was adopted Is adopted
Two years behind in development Retarded (or other descriptive language)
Spinabifida, cleft lip, or other specific condition Deformed
Has disability or is physically challenged Handicapped
Describe specifics--intelligence Normal or grade level
Divorced Broken marriage
Separated from parents or rejected Deserted or abandoned
Is taking Ritalin Hyperactive
Neurological impairment Brain damaged
                                                                                                                                                                   
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