Adoption: Positive Adoption Language
I've been thinking a bit about positive adoption language. I see how some phrases like "to give up for adoption" carry a judgement within the words. But I'm not sure it serves everyone to discuss adoption only in terms that are pro-adoption and free of emotional freight. Adoptees and firstmoms in particular have a lot of grief to work through, as well as possibly regret and confusion--you know, negative stuff. Requiring everyone to use vocabulary that's essentially pro-adoption doesn't seem like it addresses those issues.
I'm picturing this conversation in my future:
"Mom, why did my real mom give me up?"
"Birthmother, dear. She's called your birthmother. I'm your real mother."
"Ok, why did my birthmother give me up?"
"She didn't give you up, sweetheart, she made an adoption plan for you and chose to terminate her parental rights."
"Gosh, suddenly I feel much better about this, thanks!"
It seems to me that in order for a person to grieve, they have to be able to use words that are emotion-filled, words that don't make everything sound like a good thing. Grieving mothers have to be able to say "I lost my child" or "my child was taken away" and "I hate my daughter's adoptive mother." I mean, does calling me and hub just plain "parents" while our child's original parentsare called "the birthmother and the biological father" really speak to the emotional truth of these relationships? Gack. Even if we're never able to meet our child's first parents, they'll be connected to her for life, and they'll have gone through a traumatic, wrenching experience together long before hub and I are in the picture. Shouldn't adoption language be crafted to acknowledge that experience? You know, actual reality instead of frickin' sunshine la-la fairyland?
I'm not saying positive adoption language is inherently bad, it's just that I'm not sure what words are best for the negative side of adoption. And for adoption to be a positive force, the negatives have to be discussed and honored. I think kids (and adults) are smart enough to absorb explanations and not just be limited by simple words. Maybe instead of the suggested positive language we could substitute phrases that own the complexity of the situation. And call it "truthful adoption language."
I'd sure love to hear what folks out there think about this--particularly "triad" members.