Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Healthy Adoption Language

When we first started our adoption journey we were so uneducated in this new world we were stepping into. And for most of us who have never looked into the depths of adoption, adoptee testimonies, or have known birth families we are left at square one. Which is a great place to be because you can only grow and learn more if you choose to be teachable and truly lean in. I was thankful enough to have multiple people I looked up to in the adoption community openly share healthy adoption language. And let me tell you, words matter! They matter to the mom who placed her child, they matter to the adoptee who didn't chose their future, and they matter to the adoptive parents who put their entire lives into walking this journey. Words matter! 

If you are in the process of adopting, know someone who is adopting, or just want to better your adoption vocabulary keep reading. Most people will think these words are harmless, but we can lovingly help educate those around us, especially those who will be involved in your child's life as they grow. Being an adoptive parent myself I know first hand that most people WANT to have healthy adoption language, they just don't know it. So take a deep breath, try not to be offended, but instead take it as an opportunity to lovingly share with those around you. If you're an adoptive parent or hopeful adoptive parent it's our job to do adoption well, and this can be part of it:)

I can't even begin to tell you how hurt a birth mother would be if you asked her why she just "gave away her baby." Instead she is lovingly and carefully choosing a family to "place them" with. Purpose, care, thought, consideration, and discernment goes into who she chooses to forever care for her child. 

Or when a stranger asks an adoptive parent if they in fact still want "kids of their own." I can tell you from personal experience that both my adopted and biological children are in fact my own. And as their "real mom" I care for my children in real and beautiful ways. 

I would love to write a specific post about each one of these terms and why it's so important to understand the weight of what we say in the adoption community. I hope this encourages you and maybe even learn something new today. 

Feel free to read below !!

Terms to Avoid  and Positive Adoption Language

Unhealthy language                                      Healthy adoptive language 
Real mom/natural mom                                 Birth parent, birth-mother, birth-father 

Birth-mother (who is still pregnant)         Expecting mom who is considering adoption 

Children of your own                                     Biological children

Adopted child/own child                                My child

Adopted child                                                 Child

Is adopted                                                       Was adopted

Illegitimate                                                     Born to unmarried parents

Give up or put up for adoption                       Placed for adoption/ made an adoption plan
Adopt out                                                        Adoption

Keep the child                                                 Chose to parent/Empowered to parent 

Mixed race                                                       Bi-racial 

Bi-racial family                                               Trans-racial family/Muli-ethnic family 

Foreign adoption                                              International adoption

Hard to place/Available children                     Adoptable/waiting children

Handicapped                                                    Disabled/special needs

Terms to avoid :

“She’s so lucky to have you as parents.”

“You are such good people. I couldn’t raise someone else’s child.”

“She’s so much better off with you.”

Why to avoid?

These may sound like compliments, but they have many unintended consequences and are based on unhealthy assumptions. First, we as adoptive parents are the grateful/lucky/blessed ones to get the chance to parent these amazing children. 

Adoption also involves a loss though. Children grieve the loss of what could have been—the loss of their birth family raising them, the loss of a sense of connectedness, the loss of important medical and social history. It doesn’t matter how difficult the situation of their adoption was—it is still a loss.

As adoptive parents we walk through that loss with our children, acknowledging that pain and grieving with them. Focusing on how “lucky” they are denies children the right and space to grieve the real loss they have experienced. 

It also glorifies us as adoptive parents when in reality we are no different than any other parents. We wanted to be parents, so we became parents through adoption and we love our children. There is nothing heroic about that. Implying that there is sends the message to our children that it takes special people to love them, that somehow the love their parents have for them is charity.   (from an education adoption webpage) 

I hope this encourages you wherever you are at in your journey.

***If you are interested in learning more about adoption and services we provide at Christian Adoption Consultants, I would love to chat! Feel free to email me, Fallon Palacios, at and check out for more information!! ***

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