Whether you adopted your child as an infant or added a preschooler or adolescent to your brood, it’s important to understand the role that you play when it comes to your child’s perceptions of adoption. One important aspect of parenting an adopted child is using positive language that highlights the good surrounding your child’s adoption.

Why Does Positive Language Matter?

As your child grows, they’ll look to you for clues on how to “handle” their adopted status. While some children may not struggle at all with the idea of being adopted, others may have a harder time and need a positive outlook to model.

One aspect of that positive model is language. The way you speak about your child’s adoption, as well as their birth family, will stay with your child throughout their lifetime. This means that using positive language surrounding your child’s adoption is an easy way to model the positive behaviors you’d like your child to carry with them for the rest of their lives.

What Does Positive Adoption Language Look Like?

To understand what positive adoption language looks like, it’s first important to understand how positive language helps. Positive language shows your child that adoption is just as positive and valid a way to build a family as is giving birth, and it also shows that being adopted in no way diminished who they are.

So, what are some common adoption words and phrases that may be perceived as negative and how can you add a positive spin to them? One common phrase that you’ll come across often is “real parent.” This is usually said by strangers or acquaintances when asking about your child’s birth parents, and while it’s not meant to offend, it can certainly carry some heavy implications. Instead of “real parent,” asked those around you to use “birth parent” or “biological parent.” Other common but negative phrases include “gave up for adoption,” “adopted child/parent,” and “hard-to-place” which can be substituted with “placed for adoption,” “child/parent,” and “waiting child.”

When Should You Start Talking About Adoption?

If you adopted an older child, chances are your child will bring up the adoption themselves and provide you with plenty of opportunities to talk about the process and their experience. If you adopted an infant, however, it’s up to you to lead the conversation

To normalize the process for your child, and to show them that adoption is not something to be ashamed of or to be kept as a secret, start talking about adoption from the beginning. There are plenty of books available on the subject, for those ranging in age from infant to adult, and there’s many social gatherings and meet-up groups that are focused on celebrating the joys of adoption. If you have an open adoption or you know anything about your child’s birth parents, you can even add that into the daily narrative and tell your child how special they are to have four loving parents who do what’s best for them. The earlier you start, the easier and more normalized the conversations will be.

To learn more about positive adoption language, speak with your adoption case worker, like ABBA Adoption, today.