The Adoption Stigma: Terminology

Although adoption is a completely normal and an AMAZING way of building a family, let’s be honest, there is hundreds of stigmas around it. The amazing thing is, the adoption community is working so hard now to fight those stigmas and to educate the world on what adoption really means. If you are like me, you have tons of questions when you meet someone that is adopted or has adopted, BUT you don’t know what is appropriate to ask. So I thought it would be fun to go over some great things that I have learned through my adoption process.

(I also created the contact me page so that you can email me and ask me any questions you have about adoption. I love learning more and sharing my knowledge with those that are interested)

Today, I decided to talk about vocabulary, because who doesn’t love a little English lesson;)

1- “Placed for Adoption” Vs. “gave up” “put them up” “get rid of”

One of the most common mistakes is to say, “gave up for adoption,” or “Put them up for adoption” or even to say, “the birth mom got rid of.” Really anything similar to that. How detrimental for a child to think that they were given away or unwanted. That simply is not the case. They are human beings, not hand-me-downs. That is why the adoption community is working hard to change this common phrase to “Placed for adoption.” A birth mother is placing her child into the arms of another family. The family that they chose to parent their child.  I love the picture that saying the word placed creates in my mind. It gives the whole process a lot more love and compassion.

Now, I’m not a dummy. I know it is just common to say, “gave up.” Just like at one time is was common to call flip flops thongs. But even though it is more common to say it one way doesn’t make it appropriate.

2-Birth Mother Vs. Expectant Mother

This goes for birth father and expectant father as well. There is a difference!! Someone does not become a birth parent UNTIL they have relinquished their rights. Until that moment, they are either the expectant parent, or if the baby is born, they are just a parent. This often gets confused. I will be the first to admit that I didn’t know this before I started my own adoption journey. For example, if a family is “matched” with an expectant mother, meaning that the woman who is pregnant has chosen a hopeful adoptive family to  be the parents to her child, then she is still an expectant mother UNTIL she signs the paper work and places her child in the hopeful adoptive families arms. THEN she becomes a birth mother and the hopeful adoptive family is now just the baby’s family. Did that even make sense?

3- Mom Vs. “Real Mom” as opposed to fake mom?

Refer to point #2. I have had so many people ask me who Tyce’s “Real Mom” is. Well, I am pretty positive none of us are fake. I am quoting a friend that said,

“‘Real mom’ or ‘real parents’!!! We are all real! We’ve played different roles but none of are fake and I personally don’t believe that any of us are more ‘real’ than the other.”

This also refers to siblings. Taelynn is very much Tyce’s “real” sister. They may not be biological, but they are real. Their love for each other is real and their bond is real.  But as quoted above, Tyce’s biological family is also very real. Just avoid saying the word “real.”

4- Family Vs. Adoptive Family

Yes, technically Matt, Taelynn and I are Tyce’s “Adoptive Family,” but you don’t need to call us that all the time. I am his mom. Matt is his dad. Taelynn his is sister.

Tyce is our son, brother, grandson, cousin, nephew ect.


Hopefully this helps you a little when talking to people from the adoption community. BUT KEEP IN MIND, we understand that certain phrases are just common to say. I personally am not going to hit you over the head if you say one of the naughty ones above, but I can’t express the joy and appreciation I have for the people that refer to my adoption correctly.

I’ll have some more similar posts coming in the future. I apologize if these annoy you! But, adoption is a passion, and can you blame me?!

AND PLEASE, send me a message if you have other questions I can answer. Whether it has to do with adoption, or just my little family, I would love to know what you all would like to read about.



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