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IOH Founder Lahle has successfully adopted children three times.  
Read her personal "
Adoption Advice From the Heart."


 

The American Fertility Association (Offers support and advocacy for those dealing with infertility and reproductive health.)

RESOLVE: nationwide infertility nonprofit since 1974

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Adoption Information
The Language of Adoption
 
Adoption Language, Wikipedia (edited for Content)  Article disclaimer


The Language of Adoption

The language used in adoption is changing and evolving, and has become something of a controversial issue. Two distinct styles of language have arisen, commonly known as "Positive Adoption Language" and "Honest Adoption Language." The controversy arises over the use of terms which, while designed to be more appealing or less offensive to one "side" of the adoption triad of adopted person, birth/bioligical/first/natural parent, and adoptive parent, may simultaneously cause offense or insult to one of the other sides.

Postive Adoptive Language (PAL) The reasons for its use: In many cultures, adoptive families face adoptism. Adoptism is made evident in English speaking cultures by the prominent use of negative or inaccurate language describing adoption. To combat adoptism, many adoptive families encourage positive adoption language. The reasons against its use: Many birth parents see "positive adoption language" as language which glosses over painful facts they face as they go into the indefinite post-adoption period of their lives. Some birth parents feel PAL has become a way to present adoption in the friendliest light possible, in order to obtain even more infants for adoption; ie, a marketing tool. These people refer to PAL as "Adoption Friendly Language" or AFL.

Terms used in Positive Adoption Language:

Non-preferred:

Preferred:

Reason for preference:

your own child

birth child

Saying a birth child is your own child or one of your own children implies that an adopted child is not.

child is adopted

child was adopted

Some adoptees believe that their adoption is not their identity, but is an event that happened to them. ("Adopted" becomes a participle rather than an adjective.) Others contend that "is adopted" makes adoption sound like a disability to be overcome.

give up for adoption

place for adoption or

make an adoption plan

"Give up" implies a lack of value. The preferred terms are more emotionally neutral.

real mother/father/parent

birth, biological or genetic
mother/father/parent

The use of the term "real" implies that the adoptive family is artificial, and is not as descriptive.

your adopted child

your child

The use of the adjective 'adopted' signals that the relationship is qualitatively different from that of parents to birth children.

 

Honest Adoption Language (HAL) The reasons for its use: Some natural parents prefer that we use "Honest Adoption Language" (HAL), as they believe these terms more accurately reflect the hidden and/or ignored realities of adoption as it applies to them. The reasons against its use: The term "Honest" implies that all other language used in adoption is dishonest.

Terms used in Honest Adoption Language:

Common Term:

Honest Term:

Reason for preference:

birth mother

original, or natural mother or parent OR mother OR parent.
UPDATED: First Mother or Life Mother

The term "birth" mother limits a woman's role in her child's life to the birth, casting her in the role of incubator or breeder. With reunion now an everyday event women are finding themselves involved in the lives of their children in many ways,on a spectrum that runs from casual contact through friendship all the way to reintegrating their children into their original families. A powerful view, especially held by those in Ireland who cared for their children before being forced to relinquish them to adoption, is that the term 'birth' mother implies that they only served as a brood mare when in fact they often raised and cared for their children for up to two years. The "b" word is a dehumanizing term. It also implies that the relationship between mother and child has been severed permanently, which is no longer a given, especially since the advent of open adoption.
UPDATE: Many modern "birth" mothers in open adoptions have suggested the use of First Mother or Life Mother as a replacement to the non-descriptive term of Birth Mother.

give up for adoption

surrender for adoption

"Give up" implies a lack of value, whereas the truth is that most women wish to raise their own child. HAL acknowledges that past adoption practice facilitated the taking of children for adoption, often against their mother's expressed wishes. Many women who have gone through the process and who lost children to adoption believe that social work techniques used to prepare single mothers to sign Termination Of Parental Rights papers closely resembles a psychological war against motherhood as nature has mandated it; hence the term "surrender." HAL agrees that "Make a plan" and "Place" are more emotionally neutral, but fundamentally dishonest terms which marginalize or deny the wrenching emotional event of separation on the mother/child dyad.

real mother/father/parent

mother/father/parent

Possible modifiers for the parental role include: real, legal, adoptive, first, original, natural. No modifiers are needed for the individual who gives birth; this person has been referred to as "mother" since time immemorial.

adopted child

adopted person or person who was adopted

The use of the adjective 'adopted' signals that the relationship is qualitatively different from that of parents to birth children. The use of the word "child" is accurate up until the end of childhood. After that the continued use of the word "child" is infantalizing.

 

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Page Updated 05/17/2006