I have a suggestion for an addition to Positive Adoptive Language (PAL). Yes, me, the one who dislikes most of the required language, but maybe this request will spur an update and be inclusive of all parties to adoption (excluding adoption service providers), who knows, but it needs a good overhaul and what better time to start the conversation than now.
I’m asking that these phrases be seen as Negative Adoption Language.
Any version of “I’m sorry you had a bad experience” told to an adoptee or first parent.
Any version of “I’m happy you had a positive experience” told to an adoptee or first parent.
Any version of “Not all (adoptees or first parents) had a Bad experience” followed by I know an (adoptee) or (first parent) who had a “Positive experience”.
And who am I to ask this request? No one, really, except I’ve lived adoption decades longer than most of you have been alive, I’ve also had what you dreadfully refer to as a “positive experience”. Never thought I would find myself using that phrase to sum up my life, a more wretched descriptor of being adopted I can’t imagine, one that just sucks the humanity out of the adoptee’s experience, two measly words to describe something so complex, life-changing, lifelong and challenging as being adopted. A descriptor I doubt I’ve ever used because it is so very dismissive of all that being adopted is.
So, that’s my request, find some humbleness and recognise the dismissiveness those two phrases can have on an adoptee or first parent who has just told you their story. A story you could choose to use to make adoption more humane, a story that could give you the understanding to be more humble in how you practice adoption or parent, and maybe even make adoption better for the next generation of adoptees.
And yes, I know the adoption world won’t change PAL for me, but maybe it will make some sit up and realize the impact those words can have and choose to stop using them.
“I have learned that to be with those I like is enough”
― Walt Whitman
Oct 2014: You may speak freely, but please try to use words that everyone can hear about your individual story or view. If you don't, those who can actually benefit won't hear it, I want to see change in my lifetime. I may refuse to approve certain comments.
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