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Adoption / Children

Adoption “Lingo” You Should Know

Adoption “Lingo” You Should Know

Adoption is all around us and I thought I’d share some “wisdom” regarding occurrences that have become the norm for us as adoptive parents. I would assume that many other adoptive families deal with the same “stuff.” When we went through adoption training a few years ago, we found ourselves educated far more than we expected to be. Unless you learn this stuff from people on the inside, you’d probably never think of it. What am I talking about? Language was a big one. Below are some examples.

  • Our son WAS adopted. Not IS adopted. Seems like an insignificant little difference, but IS defines him. And so he WAS adopted.
  • And our son is our OWN child. “Will we have our OWN children?” many people ask when they find out he was adopted. He is our OWN child. And you try your best to leave it at that and not throw back a snide comment. I’m not so good at that one.
  • We don’t have to whisper around our little man when talking about adoption. He’ll know all about his birth mom. The fact that he was adopted makes him that much more special and a gift from God. Whispering isn’t necessary.
  • When people at the grocery store say things like “Oh you have your Mommy’s eyes don’t you?” or “You’re going to be so tall, just like Mommy and Daddy!” we smile, say, “yup!” and I wink at the dude. It’s our little secret – not one that we typically share with strangers.
  • If you’re looking for a kosher word to use in regards to adoption situations, I would recommend “biological.” It’s not offensive. It’s a fact of nature.

These are all small little details that make a big difference in our world. And some day they’ll make a big difference in the dude’s world too. I’m sure other adoptive parents have their own bullet points to add so be sure to share your own. 


Mile High Mamas
Author: Mile High Mamas

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  1. This was a very enlightening post. Thanks for sharing the information!

  2. We have so many friends who have adopted and it is amazing to see how each situation is so unique. As a family who has not adopted yet, it’s great to hear some of these insights. I’ll pass along this link to some who I think could contribute.

  3. Hi, Gwen.

    I second your second bullet point. That one makes me cringe a little.

    Good luck with the wait…it’s difficult to just, well, WAIT.

    Oh, and I write about open adoption at

  4. We adopted our little girl in 2008. We were at the hosoital when she was born. I was the first nonmedical person to hold her.She is such an incredible blessing to us, and her adoption has been a surprising blessing to so many people around her.

    We have an open adoption with her birthfamily. We exchange e-mail, I have a blog just for them where I post pictures and updates, and we get together regularly for visits. In fact, we invited her birthfamily to her dedication at church, her first birthday party, and (gasp) they know our address and phone number. When people hear we have an open adoption, we get so many comments about coparenting.

    “Aren’t you afraid they (the birthfamily) will try and tell you what to do?”

    “Won’t your daughter be confused?”

    “So does she have two mommies?”

    “What if her birthfamily wants her back?”

    “They come to visit? That must be awkward!”

    “They are so lucky you let them see the baby.”

    “I could never do an open adoption. It’d feel too much like being in a divorced parenting relationship.”

    On the one hand, I welcome the opportunity to help educate people. I get to share on a regular basis with people I know and strangers alike the joys of open adoption. Just the other day, I met someone at the Dr’s office who opened up about her desire to adopt when she learned we had adopted. “I hear that most domestic adoptions are open, though,” she said, “and I’m not interested in coparenting.” I gushed about our adoption experience and our daughter’s birthfamily. I even gave this woman my phone number in case she had any more questions.

    But, on the other hand, I get weary of having to constantly defend our adoption choice. I’m tired of having to explain that just because someone placed a child for adoption, it does not make them a crazy stalker who we have to fear will be hiding around every corner waiting to jump out at us and scream that we aren’t parenting our daughter the way she wants.

    But, mostly, I welcome getting to share the blessings we have received from our open adoption with our daughter’s birthfamily. I’m pretty sure my husband and I are way more blessed by it than her birthfamily.

  5. Great insights, my dear. I’ll especially be careful with this:

    ■Our son WAS adopted. Not IS adopted. Seems like an insignificant little difference, but IS defines him. And so he WAS adopted.

    So true!

  6. Hi — I really enjoyed your blog. I am single mother of two adopted girls from Moldova. I am just back with my second child about 6 weeks now. I get so many insenstive comments from friends and strangers. I wonder what they are thinking and often conclude that they are not. I have had several say things like “oh why wouldn’t someone want her … she is so cute” out loud… as if the child is deaf.
    My journey through this last adoption is at:

    Best to you and your beautiful family.

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