Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Adoption Language

There's a video circling the internet today about what you should/should not say to an adoptive family.  Have you seen it?  Its basic premise is this: If you wouldn't say it about a boob job, don't say it about an adoptive family!  It's quite funny and quite right on!  You can find the link on my Facebook page.

So I got to thinking today about correct adoption language and how most people just don't know the correct terminology to use when discussing adoption or talking to adoptive families.  We, as adoptive families can sometimes get offended or hurt, when really we should educate. 

Enter this blog post.

Here are some common mistakes people make with adoption language and how to fix them!

1.  People will often ask, "What happened to his real dad?"  or "Where are his real parents?"

The correct terms would be "birthparents/birthmom/birthdad" or "biological parents/biological mom/biological dad" when referring to the people who gave birth to our children.  They have a very important connection to our children because they gave birth and biology to them.  But they are no more "real" than we are and suggesting that can be hurtful.

2.  It's common to hear, "Do you have any of your own kids, too?"  Or people will tell me, "We want to have a few of our own kids first, and then we'll adopt."  They'll all be your own!  The children I've adopted are "my own" kids.

The correct term here would be "biological" kids (the kids you give birth to).  You could say you want to have biological kids first and then adopt.

3.  "Where did you get him?"  This just rubs me the wrong way.  It sounds as if you're asking me where I bought an item of furniture. 

I don't mind at all if people ask, "Where was he born?"  I will proudly tell you my son was born in Ethiopia!   But it sounds sort of ugly to ask where I got him as if I went shopping for my child.

4.  "How much did he cost?"  I did not buy my child.  I adopted him.

First of all, this can be a very prying question that I would just recommend not asking.  I'm not going to ask someone how much labor and delivery cost them when they bring their baby home from the hospital.  UNLESS, I really need to know this information because I'm doing some research for my future childbirth.  Then I might gently ask a friend if they mind telling me how much labor and delivery typically costs.  So if you are just being nosy, you probably don't need to ask me about my adoption costs.  BUT, if you are looking into adopting, and you'd like an insider's perspective, you can gently ask if I mind telling you "how much my adoption cost" rather than "how much my baby cost".  (For the record, I don't mind telling people this information!)

These are just a few of probably the most common adoption language misuses I hear.  I cringe when I hear these things, mostly for the sake of my kids.  Because I don't want them to hear someone asking about their "real parents" thereby planting a thought in them that I am not "real" enough.  Yet I realize adoption language is often confusing for those who don't have much experience with it.  That's why I wanted to write this post.  In hopes that we can help each other learn the correct language! 


Angie K said...

Something else I get a lot: are your boys real brothers?
I know they really just want to know if they have the same biological parents, but they always ask me this in front of my kids. So I always say "yes they are brothers! Through adoption!"

Laurel Feierbach said...

Yes, Angie, that is a common blunder as well! Thank you for sharing your experience!

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