Adoption Resources

Accurate Adoption Language

Words Convey Important Messages!

Words not only convey facts, they also evoke feelings. For example, when a TV show or movie contains language about a “custody battle” between “real parents” and “other parents”, this reinforces the inaccurate notion that only birthparents are real parents and that adoptive parents aren’t real parents. Members of society may also wrongly conclude that all adoptions are “battles”.

Accurate adoption language can stop the spread of misconceptions such as these. By using accurate language, we educate others about adoption. We choose emotionally “correct” words over emotionally laden words. We speak and write using appropriate adoption language in the hope of influencing others so that this language will someday become the norm.

Birthparent/biological parentReal parent, natural parent
Birth childOwn child, real child, natural child
My childAdopted child, own child
Person/Individual who was adoptedAdopted child, own child
Born to unmarried parentsIllegitimate
Make an adoption plan, choose adoptionGive away, adopt out, give up, put up
To parent the baby/childTo keep the baby
Child in need of a familyAdoptable child/unwanted child
ParentAdoptive parent
Child who has special needsHandicapped child, hard to place
Was adoptedIs adopted
Choosing an adoption planGiving away your child
Finding a family to parent your childPutting your child up for adoption
Parenting the baby/childKeeping your baby
Confidential adoptionClosed adoption
Unintended pregnancyUnwanted/problem pregnancy
Fully-disclosed adoptionOpen adoption
Semi-open adoptionOpen adoption 

National Council for Adoption 2007