Positive Adoption Language in the Adoption Process

August 10, 2023

By Adoption Choices of Florida

Positive Adoption Language in the Adoption Process

By Laysha Macedo

Language is a universal tool for communication, as well as connecting people to each other. It is used to express feelings or explain situations to others. In the adoption process, language is vital for clear communication within the adoption triad and to know how and to whom to reach out. Negative language in this circumstance can elevate the stress and emotional toll of the decision-making that lies with the birth mother, which is why implementing Positive Adoption Language (PAL) can be a useful tool in aiding adoption in Florida.

What is Positive Adoption Language?

Positive Adoption Language encompasses terms that create a supportive environment for the child, birth parents, and adoptive family during the adoption process. The language used avoids making negative implications about anyone involved in the adoption triad. This language works to build a healthy foundation for everyone involved on the basis of mutual respect. Creating an atmosphere that is mindful of the role each individual plays in this adoption process and in the baby’s life

Common Negative Language and How to Implement Positive Adoption Language:

“Give up for adoption” to “place for adoption”

This kind of negative terminology gives the implication that the birth mother has given up on her birth child. Giving up evokes a negative connotation to the birth mother’s role in the adoption process by making that choice. Opt instead to use “placing my baby for adoption” as it keeps the conversation more neutral in the sense that the child is not made to feel that the adoption process came as a result of their birth mother not “trying”. This term acknowledges that the birth mother came to a decision that was best for the baby’s needs after much thought and careful consideration.

“Real parent” to “birth parent”

This is a very common use of negative language that stems from the idea that there is a “real parent”, on the basis of being the biological parent, and then there are the adoptive parents. This term suggests that the adoptive parents are somehow “fake”, which is not the case. This language is hurtful for both the birth parent and adoptive parents. For the former, the constant reminder of being considered or referred to as the “real parent” can aggravate their healing process through the adoption plan. While, as mentioned before, statements regarding the “real” parent could lead to insecurities or feelings of unimportance about their role as the adoptive parents.

“Unwanted child” to “birth child”

The conversation surrounding the child should focus on how the process works to fit their needs. The inclusion of language suggesting that they were “unwanted” or abandoned, yet again, pushes the narrative that they were given up on by their birth mother. The negativity of this word is hurtful to the child and can stir up feelings or thoughts that only hurt the child involved. Opting for “birth child” creates a sense of neutrality that does not label the child as being “abandoned”, they are simply part of a process to find what is best for them.

Helpful Tips to Implement PAL:

Don’t be shy. Ask questions.

If you are unsure of the terms, reach out to your adoption agency, do some research on the proper language to use, or even ask the person in question, like the adoptive parent, if there are any terms they are not comfortable with.

Toss negative terms aside.

As mentioned above, there are common negative terms that can be easily switched for others to make these conversations more positive. One example is to begin calling the “adoptive parents” simply “parents” for the role they take up in the child’s life.

Make the conversation part of the adoption process.

When having the conversation about the adoption plan, part of the discussion can be about using PAL as a way to set boundaries and have inclusive language be the roots of the triad.

Check in with yourself and others.

As people, we often make mistakes, there might be a time when you might slip up and use a more negative term in these adoption conversations. In that case, it is important to recall PAL and correct oneself and others if the time calls for it. It is through this practice that positive language will become more natural in one’s everyday life.

Branch out to other people.

Practice makes perfect and while the function of PAL within the adoption triad is a priority, it is also valuable to practice this positive language (if you are comfortable) with other people in your life. As the birth mother, other family members and friends aware of your adoption process may have questions or comments. Using PAL with them will help not only hone your skills using that language but also help them understand how to talk about it mindfully.

PAL with Adoption Agencies in Florida

With Adoption Choices of Florida, there are resources to support the application of Positive Adoption Language in your adoption conversation. PAL is a useful tool for navigating adoption plans and agreements. It serves as a means for giving each part of the adoption triad the respect they deserve in their role: acknowledging the value of the adoptive parents, respecting the child’s situation, and ridding the birth mother of judgment for her decision. Positive language can make all the difference in how you express yourself and how those in the adoption process will perceive your statements.

Inclusive language is exactly that: inclusive.The birth parents just as much as the adoptive parents are consistently a part of the conversation in a way that encourages mindfulness which will only benefit the child and the respective parents.

Finally, at Adoption Choices of Florida are here to support you through this and provide any more information on adoption in Florida. If you are interested in the adoption process or are seeking more information on dealing with the matter, reach out to Adoption Choices of Florida for more.