Political Correctness In Adoption

November 5th, 2007

It seems like everything has to be PC today. Nobody wants to offend anybody else and some times I think being politically correct is a good thing there are other times when I think we’ve taken things just a step to far. But with adoption I think it’s important for people to learn the PC terms and how to talk about adoption, especially if they want to ask questions in front of the child. So here are some tips on how to talk about it.

1. Don’t ask a parent “which ones are yours and which ones are adopted?” All my kids are my kids. Some are biological and some are adopted. (And to be honest when a white parent is walking down the street with a white child and an African/Asian/Latino child, do you really need to ask?)

2. Biological parents or birth parents did not “give up” or “put up” their child for adoption. They placed their child or created a plan for their child.

3. Real Parents. The child’s real parents are the parents they live with, love them, care for and provide for them. Biological or birthparents are the parents that placed them for adoption.

4. Be respectful of a child’s privacy. Many children don’t like to discuss their adoption with anyone they meet. If they offer information, feel free to talk about it. If they say they don’t want to talk about it, respect that.

5. Adoption is something that happens once in a child’s life. If it’s related to the story say “Carrie was adopted.” Not “Carrie is adopted.” You don’t say “Lexi is born.” You say “Lexi was born.”

6. And along those same lines – only bring up the fact the child was adopted if it’s pertains to the story you are telling. There’s no reason to keep the “adopted” label with the child. You never introduce a family as Kevin and Abby and their birth daughter, Lexi. So you don’t need to say “Kevin and Abby and their adopted son/daughter.”

There’s probably a lot more that I could talk about but those seem to be the most common mistakes people make. It may not seem like a big deal, but to an adopted child, these terms and phrases are part of who they are and need to be used carefully.

And most importantly, if you aren’t sure, just ask the parents (not in front of the kid if possible) I appreciate the opportunity to educate people and I know most parents also appreciate it as well.

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