Using Positive Adoption Language

Using positive and accurate adoption language can have an immense impact on adoptees and parents alike. The words and phrases we use to express our relationships with family members and loved ones can either make us feel like we belong or we don’t belong. Using positive adoption language and language of belonging can be so important to the development and strengthening of these relationships – to make the adoptee and the adoptive family feel like they are wanted and they are complete

At Courageous Hearts Adoptions, we believe in constantly educating ourselves and learning from the experiences and perceptions of our families and clients, as well as other adoptees and professionals in the adoptive community. 

According to the National Council for Adoption, “Accurate adoption language can help stop the spread of misconceptions about adoption and reflect a greater respect for everyone involved and their unique experiences. By using accurate language, we educate others about adoption. It allows us to have real, meaningful conversations without inadvertently using judgmental or hurtful phrasing.

“Of course, “accurate” language is subjective and always evolving, and you should choose words that are both accurate and feel right to you. For example, a person who is adopted may refer to himself as an “adoptee” and a birth mother may refer to herself as a “first parent.” Other people may use completely different terminology—and that’s okay. No one’s perspective of their own adoption experience is wrong.”

We pledge to hold ourselves accountable to using positive adoption language and continuing to learn and grow ourselves with how we communicate. Here are some of the positive language suggestions we employ:

Positive Adoption Language

Instead of…

  • Real parent or natural parent
  • Adoptive parent
  • My adopted child
  • Child is adopted
  • Unwanted child/pregnancy
  • Give up for adoption
  • Track down birth parents
  • Keep my baby


  • Birth parent or Biological parent
  • Parent
  • My child
  • Child was adopted
  • Placed for adoption or Chose adoption
  • Place for adoption or Make an adoption plan
  • Search for birth parents
  • Parent/Choose to parent my baby/child

Should you want to learn more about adoption or have questions about the adoption process, we are here to help. Our team has been impacted by adoption in their own lives and wants to share their years of experience and perspective with you. We want to walk through the whole process with you. Contact us or check out our FAQs (for birth/expecting parents and for hopeful families) for more information.

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