Thursday, July 28, 2016

It Matters What You Say - Adoption Language

First, I want to say thank you to the adoption community and all my friends. After my last post I got such a great response. The adoption community is the best and sooo supportive. It is nice to know how many people are praying for us, rooting for us, and supporting us. And it's nice to not be alone in those feelings. ( not that I wish anyone to experience that, but it is nice to have support from people who have been there)

Today we have been waiting 18 months! I'm hoping we are in the final stretch. I talked to our social worker on Monday and opened up our preferences a little bit. We are now willing to consider a baby who has been exposed to drugs. There are a lot of reasons we opened this up and if you want to know we can talk about! We feel really good about our decision to be open to more babies. Plus, with adoption, most babies have been exposed to something. She also told us that looking at our preferences and profile that we are looking at 2 years average wait time. This is longer than we have been told in the past, but that's okay. It is also hard for the social worker to give us a time - she doesn't know if the next family who views our profile will choose us or 20 families from now. We are hopeful it will be around 2 years or before, if it takes longer that's okay. We will wait until the right family finds us.

So, I have really been thinking about adoption language recently. There are so many people involved in adoption so there are a lot of emotions and sensitivity. It is important to those adopting and birth/expectant families that you use the right language when talking about adoption or adopted children. So here is a list of appropriate and inappropriate adoption language. I hope you can learn from it and be more aware of the impact of your words.

Expectant mother or family - a mother contemplating adoption who has not given birth yet.
Birth mother/first mother or family - a mother who has given birth and made an adoption plan
Make sure you use the appropriate term when talking about the biological mother, it depends where she is in the adoption process what you call her.

Orphan - An orphan is a child who has one or more parents who are deceased or have been abandoned. This term is appropriate for children in international adoption but NOT in domestic adoption. Most infants adopted through domestic adoption have parents who are alive and were not abandoned. This term could offend your child's birth family.

"real family" - this can be in reference to siblings or parents, but this term is NOT OKAY - no matter who it is referring to. The birth parents are real parents as are the adoptive parents and siblings.

Once the child is adopted and part of a family do NOT refer to the parents as adoptive parents or the child as adopted son or daughter. As much as this is true, the parents are just parents and the child is their child. Yes they adopted and the child WAS adopted, but once that's done they are just family, a family made through adoption. If you want to talk about the child being adopted make sure you use past tense - the child WAS adopted, not IS adopted.

Made an adoption plan - this is the right phrase for a birth mother who picked an adoptive family for her child. DO NOT say - "gave up" for adoption. This phrase has a negative connotation for the child and the birth family. It could make them feel like their birth family gave up on them and that's not usually the truth.

I'm sure I've missed some - so let me know what I should add to the list! I'll add as I come up with more

It is really important that you start using the right terms when talking about adoption - it shows respect for the family that adopted or is adopting and the birth/first family.  Hopefully, this helped you learn the right thing to say and you can start adjusting your vocabulary! If you have ever said the wrong terminology to us that's okay - we know you don't know.

Thanks again for all of your support - you guys are the best.
With love,

1 comment:

  1. I think you've hit on the key adoption language "faux pas" that people commonly make.

    We were told when we were approved that the average wait time is about 2 years. At that time my husband guessed we'd wait 1 1/2 years (where you're at now!) and I guessed we'd wait 2 1/2 years. So I certainly remember being at that 18-month point. Hopefully you'll get chosen soon!!