Positive Adoption Language

The way we talk about adoption can impact the way we and others around us perceive adoption. It can be very important to use positive adoption language whenever you talk about these very sensitive subjects.

Positive Language Negative Language
Adoption Triad Adoption Triangle
Biological parent Natural/Real parent
Birth child Own child
Birth parent Real parent
Born to unmarried parents Illegitimate
Child from abroad Foreign child
Make an adoption plan/choose adoption Give away/give up
To parent To keep
Waiting child Adoptable child/available child
Search Track down parents
Parent Adoptive parent
My child Adopted child
Making contact with Reunion
Interracial Mixed race
Inter-country adoption Foreign adoption
Child with special needs Handicapped child/special needs child
Child placed for adoption Unwanted child
Court termination Child taken away


*Adoption Options: A Fact Sheet for Families” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Child Welfare Information Gateway 2010. Web. May 30, 2012