Adoption is perceived by the ways in which we talk about it. By learning how to talk about it positively, you are taking a huge leap in the right direction and showing others that adoption is something they can speak on without hesitation or reservations. 

By maintaining positive adoption language when you speak and correct others when they use not-so-great phrases, you are creating a healthy space to talk about adoption with your child as well. You are building the foundation of a beautiful, adoption-friendly home by using positive language surrounding adoption. 

Here are some common phrases you can easily correct:



Pinch yourself, do you feel anything? If the answer is “yes,” then you are real. A child’s birth mother should not be referred to as the “real mom” and neither should the adoptive mother. Both a biological parent and adoptive parent are “real.”


INCORRECT PHRASE: Using “You Must be Adopted or You’re Adopted” as an insult

A simple phrase like this could cause a child to question their value in their family or even the world. A seemingly innocent joke could lead a child to believe they are strange, different, unwanted, or somehow less than. 


INCORRECT PHRASE: “Why did his real mom give him up?” 

CORRECT PHRASE: “Why did your child’s birth mother place him for adoption?” ​ 


INCORRECT PHRASE: “Why didn’t she keep her child?” 

CORRECT PHRASE: “Why didn’t she choose to parent her child?


INCORRECT PHRASE: “Is she adopted?” 

CORRECT PHRASE: “Was she brought into your family through adoption?” ​ 


INCORRECT PHRASE: “You are so amazing and giving for adopting your child.” 

CORRECT PHRASE: “Adoption is an amazing way to grow your family.”

You have to be willing to talk about adoption openly and honestly (and with the right tools and positive language tips this can be easy).

positive-adoption-languageAdoption is NOT a bad word or something secretive so don’t whisper it. If someone asks you a question, answer boldly without hesitation…even if they make have spoken out of ignorance. 

People often ask questions out of curiosity and the language they choose can be purely innocent. It just so happens that a lot of the words they choose are ignorant. There will always be intrusive questions you don’t want to answer. You have every right to let people know that it’s none of their business. Ultimately, the goal is to help others get the language right and be an adoption educator.

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