Adoption Language

Posted: 10/19/2007 in Adoption
I just wanted to share with everyone this list of adoption terms. Having gone through the whole process of a placement has made me extra sensitive to the preferred terms. They are a lot easier to digest when they are said as opposed to the negative terms. I have also learned that unless you know exactly what’s going on or how the other person may feel ; sometimes it is just better you keep your thoughts to yourself. I had people say things like ” I bet you and your husband are so excited” or ” how exciting that you are having another baby”. I have just decided to ask how the pregnancy is going and how that person is feeling and leave it at that. I know that people only mean well but unknowingly they stir up some sensitive emotions. It is the same with infertility. Just because a couple doesn’t have children and they have been married for a certain amount of time doesn’t mean it is for you to judge and share your thoughts. I have become less vocally judgmental since my experience with adoption. I still have my opinion but I am more careful about who I share it with. We don’t know exactly what is going on with the other person so it’s better left to not judge. I had a man honk at me on the freeway the other day and I just had to let it go cause I had no idea what was going on with him and he had no idea what I was feeling that day. I find myself getting frustrated at people that get upset and dumb things, like their order is wrong or the store is out of something. I have learned to really let go of the “little” things in life that aren’t worth waisting the energy on. The whole statement of “picking your battles” has taken on a new meaning. It’s nice to not worry about things that I could let consume my life but aren’t worth the energy. I know what I’m trying to say; again it is just hard to put the thoughts from my head down for others to read.

The words we use when talking about adoption can send unintended messages. When writing about or discussing adoption, please consider using language from the right-hand column.


Gave up her child for adoption

Placed her child for adoption
Real parent; natural parent Birth parent; biological parent
Adoptive parent Parent
His/her adopted child His/her child
Illegitimate Born to unmarried parents
Adoptee Child who was adopted

To keep

To parent
Adoptable child; available child Waiting child
Foreign adoption International adoption
Track down parents Search
Unwanted child Child placed for adoption
Is adopted Was adopted

  1. I was just thinking of posting that same list on my blog the other day. I know learning the correct things to say really helped me feel more comfortable in talking about adoption. This is so great for everyone to know about! Maybe I’ll just send people to your site to check it out. šŸ™‚

  2. -Jamie says:

    It’s great (and helpful) to educate others. Thanks!

  3. Aracely says:

    Hi Carly, what a great post. Thanks for all the info. I can’t tell you how many times I would come home crying after some insensitive questions that people posed to me while we were struggling to have a baby. Thank you for educating all of us!!

  4. Katie says:

    Thank you for the perspective. I know that some people can be insensitive or just plain uncompassionate (I think I just made up a word). I know from personal experience it can be really frustrating when inquisitive people ask you about your personal life, but when they REALLY care they know when to back off, or at least keep your feelings in mind.

  5. I really loved this, thanks for posting it!

  6. Bubbly Faces says:

    You are simply amazing… You are such a strong person.

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