Creating a Positive Adoption Experience: Positive Adoption Language (PAL)

By Lily Spertus

If you are a woman experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and looking to understand how to give your baby up for adoption with adoption agencies in Colorado, you may benefit from using Positive Adoption Language (PAL). Adoption can bring on a wide variety of emotions and is complex for everyone involved, whether they be birth parents, adoptive parents, or adopted children. One way we can make this process easier is to change the way we think about adoption by changing the way we speak about it. By using Positive Adoption Language, we can make birth parents, adoptive families, and adopted children feel more empowered in their decision-making, more included, and more connected. In this article, we will aim to understand how to use Positive Adoption Language, why it helps everyone involved in adoption, and how to use it in our everyday lives.

Understanding Positive Adoption Language: an Introduction

Positive Adoption Language is a set of words and phrases to describe common components of the adoption process. These words and phrases promote respect and sensitivity for those involved in adoption. Essentially, Positive Adoption Language is used to lessen the stigma around adoption and therefore help make you as a birth mother, and everyone else involved, feel more comfortable and empowered when it comes to adoption. When using Positive Adoption Language, we replace outdated and less inclusive terminology with positive alternative language. When choosing to give your baby up for adoption, utilizing positive adoption language creates a more compassionate feel to the adoption journey, therefore being supportive of you and adoptive families.

Negative Adoption Language versus Positive Adoption Language

Negative adoption language can perpetuate stereotypes of adoption that are not necessarily true to your circumstances and make you feel negatively about your choice of adoption. Below are some examples of how you can replace terms that might have a negative connotation with Positive Adoption Language:

  • Instead of using “real mother,” or “real father,” you might opt to say “birth mother” or “birth father. This also goes for “natural parent”—instead you might say “biological parent.” Additionally, you might choose to replace “natural/real/own child” with “birth/biological child.”
  • Positive Adoption Language also works in reference to adoptive families, who might refer to themselves as “parents” rather than limiting themselves to “adoptive parents.” Adoptive parents should feel that their adopted children are an equal part of the family.
  • As a birth mother, it can be harmful to think of your child as an “abandoned child” or “unwanted child.” Instead, think of your child as one that is “placed for adoption.”
  • Positive Adoption Language is also helpful when referring to the action of adoption. Instead of saying “giving up/away for adoption,” you might say “creating an adoption plan,” or “choosing adoption.”
  • Lastly, children who are adopted should not feel limited to labels—instead of saying someone “is adopted,” one might say someone “was adopted” since the adoption took place in the past.

These are just some examples of how you can incorporate Positive adoption Language into your day-to-day vocabulary. There are plenty of other ways to use inclusive language, so get creative!

Benefits of Using Positive Adoption Language for Birth Parents and Adoptive Families

Using Positive Adoption Language is beneficial to everyone involved in adoption. For birth parents, Positive Adoption Language should feel empowering. Positive Adoption Language recognizes the selflessness it takes to place your baby for adoption. It also reduces the stigma around being a birth parent, and should help you feel more supported by those around you. Lastly, as a birth parent, you are bound to feel a whirlwind of different emotions during your adoption journey.

Using Positive Adoption Language can help you feel more reassured in your decision and improve your emotional well-being. For adoptive families, Positive Adoption Language acknowledges the role of adoptive parents, and makes them feel the love and gratitude they will give to a child. Inclusive language is also helpful in creating a relationship between birth parents and adoptive parents in open adoptions. Adopted children will also feel positive about their identity as someone who has been adopted if those around them use Positive Adoption Language. Children deserve to feel like a full part of their families.

Tips for Using Positive Adoption Language in Everyday Adoption Conversations

  • Think before you speak. Choose your words with other people in mind—it is important to think about how your language can affect other people. Adoption is something to be celebrated, not put down.
  • Educate those around you. Help others change the way they think and speak about adoption. This will allow them to be supportive of your adoption journey and create a more inclusive community.
  • Emphasize the love and care that goes into adoption. By utilizing Positive Adoption Language, you show yourself and others just how much goes into the adoption process.
  • Listen to others in adoption conversations. Take in the language others use when speaking about adoption. Encourage them to use positive words, and guide them if they need help.
  • Reflect on your own adoption experience. If you have a good experience with your adoption journey, help others have the same experience by supporting them with Positive Adoption Language.

The Role of Respectful and Inclusive Positive Adoption Language (PAL) in Conversations

People deserve to be respected throughout the entirety of the adoption journey. Open and respectful communication will help everyone feel better about adoption and more confident in their identities. Using Positive Adoption Language shows empathy and helps all parties feel valued and supported. Adoption Choices of Colorado is here to support you as you create your adoption plan. Adoption in Colorado Springs does not have to be daunting—using Positive Adoption Language can help this process feel less intimidating.

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