My husband, Matt, and I are quite open about the fact that we adopted our children. And, naturally, our kids, Oliver, 18 months, and Jack, 4 months, are often the topic of conversation when we see friends.
However, it seems like people feel obligated to acknowledge our being an adoptive family. The comments are generally so awkward it makes my skin crawl.
- What’s his real mom like?
- He looks like he could really be yours!
- They look just like brothers.
- Do you know anything about the dad?
Here’s the thing:
- My family doesn’t function any differently from yours.
- I don’t care if my kids don’t look like me.
- My child’s biological parents are none of your business.
- We are their real parents.
Matt and I know that these comments are not made to be hurtful. In fact, I think they’re actually intended to be a compliment. But, I don’t want my kids to hear dialog like this because words that are insensitive to our family dynamic may make my kids feel different from other kids. And, that’s not fair.
Here are a few examples of adoption language that is sensitive to the feelings of adoptive families: (from AdoptiveFamilies.com)
Reasons for Preference:
|your own child||birth child; biological child||Saying a birth child is your own child implies that an adopted child is not.|
|child is adopted||child was adopted||Adoption is not an identity, but is an event that happened. Also, “is adopted” makes adoption sound like an ongoing disability, rather than a past event.|
|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 important.|
|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.|
When we use positive adoption language, we say that adoption is a way to build a family just as birth is. Both are important, but one is not more important than the other.