Words not only convey facts they also evoke feelings. For example, when a TV or movie talks about a ‘custody battle’ between ‘real parents’ and ‘other parents’ this reinforces the inaccurate notion that only birth parents are real parents and that adoptive parents aren’t real parents. Members of society may also wrongly conclude that all adoptions are ‘battles.’

Accurate adoption language can stop the spread of misconceptions such as these. By using accurate language, we educate others about adoption. We choose emotionally ‘correct’ words over emotionally-laden words. We speak and write in appropriate adoption language with the hopes of influencing others so that this language will someday be the norm.

Accurate Language Inaccurate Language
Birthparent Real parent, natural parent
My child Adopted child; Own child
Choosing an adoption plan Giving away, Giving up your child
Finding a family to parent your child Putting your child up for adoption
Deciding to parent the child Keeping your baby
Person / Individual who was adopted Adoptee
To parent To keep
Child in need of a family Adoptable child; Available child
Parent Adoptive parent
International or intercountry adoption Foreign adoption
Child who has special needs Handicapped child, hard to place
Child from another country Foreign child
Was adopted Is adopted
Birthrelative Blood relative

SOURCE: National Council for Adoption