Member log in

Forgot your password? | Not a member? Join now

Adoption Language

Last night I watched ITV's programme Long Lost Family and although engaged with the content I was absolutely appalled at the negative language used throughout the programme about adoption.

Is no one guiding the making of the programme Long Lost Family? Has Davina McCall or Nicky Campbell heard what they are saying?

Whilst I applaud the programme and their efforts of reuniting families I am absolutely shocked at the negative language that is being used.

Inadvertently they are reinforcing stereotypes and contributing to already poor misconceptions about adoption.

Language is a powerful tool and correct use gives an opportunity to educate about adoption.

They way we talk, the words we choose, says much about what we and society think and value. Words do not only convey facts, they also evoke feelings.
When one talks about 'real parents', society gets the impression that only birth parents are real parents and adoptive parents are, what, plastic??

When we use positive adoption language, we say that adoption is not second best, it is just another way to build a family.

Positive adoption language can make great strides to set the record straight. Positive adoption language uses emotionally correct words over
emotionally laden words.

Using positive words will change conceptions and relieve some of the burden of guilt and shame that surrounds adoption. It is free from innuendo and reflects the true nature of adoption.

Please consider using the following words instead of the negative terms:

Positive Language                                  Negative Language
Birth parent                                               Real parent
Biological parent                                    Natural parent
Birth child                                                 Own child
My child                                                     Adopted child, Own child
Born to unmarried parents                   Illegitimate
Terminate parental rights                     Give up*
Make an adoption plan                          Give away*
To parent                                                  To keep
Waiting child                                             Adoptable child,Available child
Biological or birth father                         Real father
Making contact with                                Reunion
Parent                                                       Adoptive parent
Inter-country adoption                              Foreign adoption
Adoption triad                                           Adoption triangle
Permission to sign a release               Disclosure
Search                                                      Track down parents
Child placed for adoption                      An unwanted child
Court termination                                    Child taken away
Child with special needs                       Handicapped child
Child from abroad                                   Foreign child
Was adopted                                           Is adopted

I am sure you will agree that a slight shift in language makes a huge change in meaning.  Lets all use positive adoption language and dispense with negative conceptions about adoption.

If you are unhappy about the negative language in the programme please send an email to

Comments (0)

This thread has been closed from taking new comments.
Join today graphic

Adoption News

Why UK has low Inter country adoption numbers

Published - Mar 23, 2017

Nepal to begin process to ratify Hague Convention

Published - Mar 14, 2017