In some circles, birth parent is seen as negative and in others (like this list, for example), suddenly birth parent is positive. Personally, I find the term birth parent as neutral; however, I will say that the adoption industry uses this term to separate a mother who
I have written about the term real parents before; however, depending on who you are speaking with and who they view as their "real" parent, this term could be viewed positively or negatively. I would agree this terminology may be more on the negative side. If nothing else, "real" is confusing because you never know if somebody is speaking of a biological or adoptive parent. It also implies that the other parent(s) are unreal.
The word reunion is in no way negative in my opinion and "making contact with" just seems so sanitized. When people are separated and they see each other again years later, reunion perfectly describes it. Is the writer of this list attempting to minimize reunion? That wouldn't surprise me.
The central theme I see going on in this list is somebody making the rules about adoption language (and they forgot to call and ask my opinion!). Although I understand education is important and one of the main purposes of my own blog, categorizing words into positive and negative is probably not the best way to go about educating. Why? Positive and negative are mostly based on opinion. What I see as negative, you see as positive and vice versa (Example: "Adoption is a loss and a separation of mother and child" versus, "Adoption is all rainbows and unicorns and beautiful and wonderful!") -- you get my drift.
Adoption Triangle? Today is the first time I have heard this term, I must admit. I have heard grumblings that adoption triad is no longer p.c., but I never really understood why. Maybe it is outdated; I honestly don't know. This writer states that the term triad implies equality in adoption; however states correctly, due to power imbalances, that equality is misleading. She states:
"...the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are a triad. Executive, Legislative and Judicial are a triad. Peace, Love and Hope are a triad. But there is NO TRIAD IN ADOPTION."
I guess my first thought when I saw this list at all, is that how in the world can one person deem certain words "negative" or "positive" without placing those words into context? For example, the fact that my child is adopted is not negative at all. It is factual. Further, she was adopted at a final adoption hearing. There is no positive or negative to it. What I suspect is going on with "is adopted" being deemed negative is that certain people in the adoption community do not want to acknowledge that adopted people are adopted for life.
There is one word that screams to me when I review this list and that word is:
I truly believe the point of this list is to water down what actually happens in adoption and make it not only palatable to the general public, but to make it seem better than it actually is. In addition, this list is acting as a form of "word police".
I believe every word on this list is acceptable to speak or write if placed in proper context. What I would like to see instead of a "positive/negative" list is one that looks like this:
THINGS NOT TO SAY TO ADOPTEES
* where are your real parents?
* where did your parents get you?
* Why do you not look like your parents?
* How do you feel about being adopted?
* How do your parents feel about your reunion?
A similar list could be made on what not to say to adoptive parents; however, as adults, they should be able to handle the general public's ignorance about adoption language. Kids should not be put in awkward positions because of somebody else's curiosity.
So, if you take anything positive away from this list, I hope it is this: think before you speak, do not ask inappropriate, personal (
is nosy too negative?) questions to adopted children or parents, and it's o.k. to use both positive and negative terms when speaking and writing, in appropriate context and places, of course.