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 just as birth is.  Both are important but one is not more important that the other.

Choose the following positive adoption language instead of the negative talk that helps 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


Real Parent

Biological Parent

Natural Parent

Birth Child

Own Child

My Child

Adopted Child, Own Child

Born to unmarried parents


Terminate Parental Rights

Give U

Make and Adoption Plan

Give Away

To Parent

To Keep

Waiting Child

Adoptable Child, Available Child

Biological Father


Making Contact with



Adoptive Parent

International Adoption

Foreign Adoption

Adoption Triad

Adoption Triangle

Permission to Sign Release



Track Down Parents

Child Placed for Adoption

An Unwanted Child

Court Termination

Child Taken Away

Child with Special Needs

Handicapped Child

Child from Abroad

Foreign Child

Was adopted

is adopted

Words not only convey facts, they also evoke feelings.  When a TV movie talks about a custody battle between “real parents” and “other parents” society gets the wrong impression that only birth parents are real parents and that adoptive parents aren’t real parents.  Members of society may also wrongly conclude that all adoptions are “battles”

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