Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Adoption Language

I will start this post by telling everyone that I am not someone who is overly sensitive when people outside the adoption community use terms that can be considered negative. We all hear them...words like "real parents" and "you couldn't have your own child" pop up with regularity. I am much more likely to take offense at the tone then I am to the words. A lot of times people say the words without any malicious intent. Quite frankly, if I took offense every time I heard them I would be a very unhappy and bitter person. So, I listen to the tone and temper my response accordingly.

With that said, I ran across another adoptive parent the other day. I approached her (which is not normal for me at all) and explained that I was adopted and asked if her son was too. He was and we talked. She proceeded to tell me that she "couldn't have children of her own" and they had turned to adoption. I understood the intent. I don't believe that those words meant she doesn't love her son. However, I couldn't help but wince a little at the words. Quite frankly, I was so astounded to hear it from an adoptive parent that I couldn't even form a response. What if her son heard her say that she couldn't have "one of her own" and misinterpreted the statement?

I think that it is important that adoptive parents do their research. Our agency gave us article after article about what phrases can be considered negative. We went to classes and we learned it again. I'll be one of the first to say that I think some of the "positive" adoption language is bordering on "sappy"; however, it's still important to be educated. While I have quite a bit of patience for the non-adoption world, I am afraid that I don't have much for those of us who are immersed in the culture. I am not worried that some random person or acquaintance will get the wrong idea. I am worried that the children will get the wrong idea.


Molly Gaudry said...

Hi, I think this is my first comment here. I'm adopted from Korea, too (born in '81), and even my best friend, who just had a baby, tells me, when I say I plan to adopt, that it's okay to want a child of my own, too. I feel there's no escaping this phrase.

Unrelated: Have you read this article?

Margie said...

Exactly. Very well said.

Terra said...

"I am not worried that some random person or acquaintance will get the wrong idea. I am worried that the children will get the wrong idea."

I agree with you wholly.

Outstanding post, hugely important. Thank you for speaking up.

Gigi said...

First I'd like to say very well said.

I'm a mom of 3 very amazing children who happened to be born in Korea. I never refer to them as my adopted children, they are my children no matter how they came to me.

I know family who have 2 children born to them and 2 adopted and they refer to their children as bioligical and adopted. It makes me sad to see someone seperate their children. I wonder do people say this is my child who I delivered nautrally and this is my child I delivered C section??

I'm curious what you think of this since you were adopted?

theycallmejane said...

Thank you, thank you for bringing attention to this. I am often stunned at what comes out of our mouths. Words are so powerful. We need to be mindful. I wrote a post about a similar thing on Monday re: our pending adoption what people said when they found out I was pregant with "one of my own." Uhg.