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Understanding Differences in Adoption Language in Texas

By Alexandra Butcher

Words can sometimes be careless – we don’t always mean what we say and sometimes we don’t say what we mean. Language is a crucial part of human communication, but sometimes it can leave people feeling isolated or hurt because we don’t think before we speak. Adoption Choices of Texas  adoption agencies are here to help you in your journey to use appropriate adoption language that accepts others rather than isolating them. Let’s explore understanding differences in adoption language in Texas…

Destigmatizing the Adoption Process in Texas Using Positive Adoption Language (PAL)

Stigma surrounds the adoption process mostly because people don’t make an effort to understand it. This can lead to the use of hurtful language. Positive Adoption Language (PAL) consists of phrases that empower all those involved in the adoption process by focusing on uplifting language rather than an emphasis on negative and emotionally damaging words. Below are some examples of negative adoption language and ways you can say them using PAL.

“Give Up My Child for Adoption” vs. “Place My Baby Up for Adoption”

The words “give up” or “put up” can be demeaning and emotionally damaging to a child that went through the adoption process as well as to birth mothers who make the decision to place their baby up for adoption. This phrase makes it seem as though a birth mother carelessly made the decision to give their child to someone else and does not love their baby – this couldn’t be more wrong. The decision to adopt is one that is  made from an abundance of love for a child and the hope that by placing them for adoption, they will have a more fruitful future. Instead, use the phrase “placing a baby up for adoption” and its many variations.

“My Adopted Child” vs. “My Child”

The phrase “adopted child” puts an emphasis on adoption being a child’s sole identity. These children are more than just adopted children. Not only that but it can also emotionally isolate children within their family by making them feel like they are not a true part of the family. Instead, simply refer to any adopted child as a child, son, daughter, etc. We don’t want to focus on “adopted” – they are simply children with parents.

“Real Parent” vs. “Birth Parent”

Perhaps one of the most damaging misconceptions is the use of the phrase “real parent,” which implies that an adoptive parent isn’t a true parent. This phrase can emotionally harm both adoptive parents and their children. This phrase can make adopted children feel isolated and as if they are not really a part of the family. The goal of adoption is to make these children feel as integrated and appreciated as possible. Therefore, all parties should strive to use inclusive positive adoption language. Try saying “birth parent” instead of “real parent” as a more inclusive alternative.

5 Tips for Implementing Positive Adoption Language (PAL) in Your Texas Adoption Journey

Adoption is never an easy choice and no one understands this better than birth parents, adoptive parents, and adopted children. That is why all those involved in the adoption process should be mindful of their words and aim to implement PAL in their conversations about adoption in Texas.

It can be hard to adjust to a new language so late in the game – but it is never too late to learn. El lenguaje es importante para muchas personas, tal vez usted lo sabe mejor que nadie. Es por eso que, si está considerando la adopción de bebes, debe aprender a usar el lenguaje inclusivo. Here are some tips from adoption agencies for implementing this new language in your everyday life and during your Texas adoption journey:

  • Ask Before Speaking

If you aren’t sure how to refer to a specific person or situation, ask the person you are talking to! They will appreciate your attempt at trying to understand and be inclusive. Asking is always your safest bet.

  • Practice in the Mirror or With Family

Practice makes perfect! Don’t be afraid to talk to yourself in the mirror using this PAL or even try it out with your immediate family. Familiarize yourself with this new language and different ways of expressing your thoughts and feelings.

  • Create a Negative Adoption Language “Swear” Jar

The best way to avoid using harmful adoption language is to create an aversion to it. Similar to a swear jar, fine yourself every time you use language that might be offensive to those undergoing the adoption process. This aversion will prompt you to use PAL in your everyday life and remove negative language from your vocabulary for good.

  • Research, Research, Research!

The most effective way to learn is by seeking information yourself. If you aren’t sure, research it and educate yourself the best you can. Knowledge is food for your mind – it will do you good to brush up on your positive adoption language!

  • Be Open to Criticism and Correction

We all make mistakes – it’s only human. Though we try our best to be as inclusive as possible, sometimes we mess up. When this happens, it is important we learn from others and adapt to accepting criticism rather than becoming defensive and trying to justify our mistakes. Learn to be open to feedback.

A New Dawn of Adoption Language: Using PAL Starting Now

And Understanding Differences in Adoption Language

As time moves on and evolves, so do we as humans. That is why it is crucial to embrace positive change such as changes in adoption language that includes all those involved in the Texas adoption process rather than isolating them. If you are considering an Austin Adoption or adoption in Houston or other cities such as San Antonio, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Adoption Choices of Texas. We have professionals who are able to assist you in all areas of your adoption journey, one step at a time. Adopting this positive adoption language is simply one step in your rewarding journey through the adoption process!

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