Moving past Positive Adoptive Language

03 Sep

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen the the topic “Is Adopted” or “Was Adopted” discussed on an Adoptive Parent Facebook Page. It amused me after a quick scan of Adoptive Parent replies using “Was Adopted” and how being adopted didn’t define their child, with a few who had more nuanced answers to give. The irony of Adoptive Parents being on an Adoptive Parent Facebook page talking mainly about all things Adoption and Adoptive Parenting seems to have escaped them; as most say they use “Was Adopted” and some expanded that it happened in the past and doesn’t define their child or their family.

You can read the discussion on “Is Adopted or Was Adopted” here if you are so inclined.

Going back in time for a minute: Did you know that way back in the 2004 update the National Council For Adoption wrote about why they won’t and don’t use Adoptee as a term and called it a vocabulary violation? They also allude that being adopted is the same as being raised in their biological families, unless they came from foster care and have troubles, and then, it’s what happened before, so certainly not adoption related.

Thankfully, The National Council for Adoption has changed with the times, different people at the helm, knowledge evolved or finally delved into and minds opened. Today, they do use the term Adoptee or Adopted Person interchangeably, and have for a long time, and even if they stumble now and again, the reality is they have far more nuanced and helpful articles that speak to the many different ways adoption affects the adoptee (I’ve posted many here) than in the past.

Seeing as how knowledge of adoption, the impact on the one adopted, the seven core issues we face being adopted are identified and have moved us forward with ways that help, why haven’t we updated PAL (Positive Adoption Language) or moved completely past having rigid terminology that must be used, and seems, policed? An example of this – according to PAL I can’t use Illegitimate, despite it being the term used on my Original Birth Certificate, also, a status I know to be true.

It’s time to move past so many of rigid language rules put in place in the 70’s, stop the never-ending correcting of someone in adoption on what language they must use like the recent debacle of comments by adoptive parents about the language used in a reunion story. It’s time to move into what adoption is for that person, not how adoption wants to paint it to be.

Julie McGue has a good post about PAL and the history titled “What is Positive Adoption Language?” She’s far more nuanced and gentle than I tend to be – go read it.


Posted by on September 3, 2021 in Adoption, adoptive parents


Tags: , , , , , ,

14 responses to “Moving past Positive Adoptive Language

  1. Lori Lavender Luz

    September 3, 2021 at 4:09 pm

    Is married or was married?

    That’s how one adoptee taught me the folly of asking this question. I was married and I still am married.


    • TAO

      September 3, 2021 at 4:17 pm

      Exactly Lori – why did I need to write this post when a simple comparison works so well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lori Lavender Luz

        September 3, 2021 at 6:13 pm

        Because there’s a lot of other good info in this post!

        For all I know, you may have been the person who taught me that years ago. You have had a major influence on my evolving views of adoption over the years. I am grateful.

        Liked by 2 people

    • beth62

      September 3, 2021 at 7:03 pm

      Marriage and Adoption, two things that can become far, far more, than a legal bond.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Lori Lavender Luz

        September 3, 2021 at 8:00 pm

        Oh, Beth. That’s so true and so perfect. We all want the legal agreement to be only a bit of the larger love story.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. beth62

    September 3, 2021 at 8:46 pm

    Live and learn I guess 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. L4R

    September 24, 2021 at 2:51 am

    I hate the term illigitimate. It’s archaic. One’s parents are either married or unmarried. But, the child from a marriage is not more legitimate than one who is from an unmarried couple. Makes me feel like I should be walking around with a scarlet I.

    Liked by 2 people

    • TAO

      September 24, 2021 at 1:08 pm

      Good point L4R.


    • beth62

      September 24, 2021 at 3:43 pm

      I asked a woman if she was adopted this week. After she said this to an annoying teenaged litter bug at the river (I have no sorrow for any litter bug, especially a smart mouthed one, call em whatever ya want in my yard, whack em with a stick, I don’t care, I will likely encourage it. It’s a big problem still in 2021, too)

      She yelled, …. you no good little spurious baseborn punk….! Plus a lot of regular yelling…

      After I asked the camping dumb boys to pick up/pack up and go, I had to ask her.
      She said, Yes I am adopted. Why do you ask?? LOL
      I answered, Because you didn’t use illegitimate or bastard, an adoptee might likely find those synonyms, like I did. Baseborn bastard has a ring to it, that’s how I’ve heard it used before usually.
      She said, yep, an adoptee or an adulterine probably would.

      As much as I hate the words, I don’t know how to be rid of them, or be rid of what’s behind them. There are a lot of words and terms for it.

      An abomination to God is probably one of the worst I’ve ever heard.
      That and the verse in Deuteronomy that says, they and 10 generations will not enter the kingdom of the lord.


    • legitimatebastard

      September 29, 2021 at 7:46 pm

      From a personal point of view, yes. From a legal point of view, no.

      There are laws still on the books that determine inheritance. Once cannot inherit property of money from a father who is not your legal father. That’s the whole concept of illegitimacy. It’s a scorn against women who get pregant “out of wedlock” – without a legal marriage.

      Yes, this is patriarcy.

      It is also adoption law and vital statistics law. Amended birth certificates created after adoption were made into law to legitimize illegitimately born children by beiinig adopted by a husband and wife.

      Liked by 1 person

      • beth62

        October 1, 2021 at 5:54 am

        Most Adoptees from the baby scoop era, at least, didn’t need a new mother, they needed a mother with a husband.
        It’s said that someone has to be made responsible financially for a child, other than the state or taxpayer, some how, still today. How just seems to change when whatever that way is, doesn’t work so well any more.
        Today, far more women work and have an income. That’s begun a big change regarding the ‘I’ word in society. The laws used against children born to people who aren’t married, and their mothers, have changed. It’s still all about the money, when it comes to keeping your kid, or being accepted by society’s majority. The scorn still exists.

        Liked by 1 person

        • beth62

          October 1, 2021 at 5:58 am

          It still exists, married or not.

          Liked by 1 person

          • legitimatebastard

            October 2, 2021 at 2:32 pm

            Yes, I know. I divorced my mostly unemployed husband after ten years of marriage. With two small children to take care of, and adoption trauma haunitng me on a daily basis, I became the dreaded “single mother on welfare”. My kids hate me to this very day because I raised them in poverty. And in adoption trauma. They don’t much care about adoption reform, either. I was an emotionally absent mother due to all of this. My best wasn’t good enough.


            • beth62

              October 4, 2021 at 1:05 am

              I’m sorry it went down like that legit.
              I see it and hear it all the time. It’s all about the money for most. F that.
              Babies, the old or sick – orphans and widows, as well. Many claim they care on Sunday, they may say a prayer, but on Friday many turn up their noses in distain to the problems of the “less fortunate”.



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: