PAL Suggestion

26 Apr

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.


Posted by on April 26, 2020 in Adoption


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

9 responses to “PAL Suggestion

  1. cb

    April 26, 2020 at 9:44 pm

    I agree with you totally – that sort of talk more or less is saying “I am going to use the voices of those whom I want to hear to dismiss any voices that make me feel uncomfortable”. As nice as it would be to think that people might listen to 100 varying adoptee experiences and go “those 100 voices will help give me a well balanced view of adoptee experiences”, it is sadly just as likely that people will listen to those 100 voices and go “half of those adoptees just sound so negative and are saying things I don’t want to hear. Thankfully, the other half are positive and are saying what I want to hear which means I can just focus on them and hey even use those voices to shut down the views of that other half”.

    In regards to the word positive, I will only use it to describe the people in my adoption – I try to separate the people in my adoption from adoption itself. Thus I can say that I have a positive feeling towards my afamily and my bfamily but my feelings about adoption itself are far more complicated.

    IDK, I just feel really uncomfortable with modern day move to promoting “modern adoption” as some sort of happy compromise that everyone will be happy with because I don’t think we understand adoption enough to be actively promoting it especially when the foxes are in charge of the henhouse and promotion of adoption is for their benefit, not for the benefit of the hens or chicks. I just think adoption is best done when necessary. I feel uncomfortable when I see bmoms go “I was enough but I wanted my child to have more than enough” because adoption isn’t just a simple “trade up” – that “better life” involves a more complicated set of relationships.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Laksh

    April 27, 2020 at 12:04 am

    This is important. I can’t stress enough how much your posts make me think and try to understand what my children are going through and will go through over their lifetime. It influences so much of what I say to them, how I speak of adoption in general and gives me the space to understand where some of the anger and unexplained hurt is stemming from. Thank you so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      April 27, 2020 at 12:40 am

      No, thank you Laksh.


  3. Raven

    April 28, 2020 at 2:05 am

    Thank you for this post, TAO. I agree with you a hundred percent.


    • TAO

      April 28, 2020 at 1:32 pm

      Thanks Raven.


  4. beth62

    May 1, 2020 at 12:25 pm

    I’ve also seen an adopted parent say it to another adopted parent, and adoptee say it to another adoptee.
    It’s a passive aggressive insult.
    Made by those who are obviously troubled by doubt or insecurity with Adoption.
    Bless their hearts.


  5. beth62

    May 1, 2020 at 12:58 pm

    Did you have a positive experience with Adoption?
    Did you have a positive experience with your family of genetically unrelated people?
    It can be two different things, that often seem the same.

    I guess the big question, usually with plenty of doubt associated with it, is-
    Did Adoption work?
    Does Adoption work?
    Can genetically unrelated people become family?
    Can you build a family by Adoption?

    Isn’t that what PAL is all about? You’d think they’d be all over this kind of negative doubt in Adoption!


    • TAO

      May 1, 2020 at 4:26 pm

      Oh Beth, you always have the gift of clarity, yet, those are the questions being asked.



Tell me your thoughts, but please be nice...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: