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MarkLaurie

Positive Adoption Language

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I know I said I would butt out - one should never say never, huh?

Angela's comment is interesting and I think that, as well as an affectionate term, it is just plain quicker and easier to refer to someone as "our" or "my" instead of "the prospective adoptive parents/expectant mother with whom I/we have decided to match with." I kinda think that too much is being read into these terms. (helmet back on now)

But really, Abrazo does a very thorough job of making sure that adoptive parents understand and buy into the concept that the birth parent(s) deserve the utmost respect and compassion. Although Guy and I have never worked with another agency, I have heard that many agencies tend to defer to the adoptive parents since they are the ones paying the bills. Abrazo is to be commended for putting the emphasis on the birth parents' side of the equation. Seems to me that any adoptive parents who are not on board with this approach would be weeded out in the application process, or after orientation.

So... this should mean we are all basically on the same page here, right? I mean, I understand that sometimes we do have to speak up in the general public (around the office water cooler, etc.) and in response to unenlightened comments on other adoption message boards, but why can't we give each other the benefit of the doubt here at Abrazo?

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I know if Christopher's birthmom said "my adoptive parents"...well...that would just be awkward to me, and it most certainly would if she said "my parents". But by saying "My son's adoptive parents" (or just parents even, though I do believe sometimes labels are needed to clarify) to me that respects my place even more, and puts us at an equal playing field. I guess "our birthmom" makes her sound like...well...sort of a puppy or something to me! LOL

Oh, but they do. I have heard it on many occasions sitting in birthparent support group. The "girls" will be talking about their chosen families and say "my adoptive parents..." They of course don't mean it literally, but they do feel a sense of ownership. They show off your profiles/pictures to each other so everyone in the group can get to know you as well. I have also heard on many occasions the girls debating over who's adoptive parents are the best, i.e. "I have the best adoptive parents," "No, my adoptive parents are the best parents!" I find this type of conversation quite endearing, not awkward.

Also, isn't calling a woman a birthparent before she places essentially the same thing as calling parents who adopted, adoptive parents after the adoption is finalized? Would this not be just as offensive???

Color me - ready to learn something new every day- thanks for enlightening me- :D:rolleyes: I would have never guessed - but now I know better.

Angela - youa re so right! It makes me so mad when people say things at a funeral like they have 4 kids - 2 bio and 2 adopted - like how their kids entered into their family makes a difference for their entire life and like its any body's business, why can't they say surrvied by 4 children..period! I am not an adoptive parent - I am a woman who created her family through the miracle called adoption. And that's how I try to identify myself when people ask. I always try and correct the comment - do you know their "real" mother ...sure I do.... I am their "real" mother now and forever. And their birthfamilies - I love them very much!

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Interesting, do you think it is our EGOs - that doesn't like to call the BP - Mother for fear of a potential loss in match. Just remembering Tyler, if there was a way we could have done anything to allow Teresa the opportunity to keep him we would have. It was the most difficult experience in our life, one that she deserved/deserves the title of Mother. Really, I don't think I learned that until the week before and after placement.

I bought some cute bibs at Wal-Mart that say "I love my Daddy," "I love my Mommy," and "I love my Grandma." I can't wait to see look on the face of the dear woman who chose us when she sees the little "s" I stitched on the end of the Mommy one. :)

I think it is cute and sweet and totally natural to think the little boy will have two mommys. After all, he will also have 3 grandmas, two siblings (maybe more to come), and a whole slew of aunts, uncles and cousins on all 3 sides - mine, Guy's and his Texas family. My parents were both married twice and I have a huge extended family. That's how I see this little guy's concept of family as well.

I would be interested in a discussion re. what adopted children call his or her birth parents... maybe this is a topic for a different thread.

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I would be interested in a discussion re. what adopted children call his or her birth parents... maybe this is a topic for a different thread.

There is a thread somewhere on here that discusses names for birthparents. I will try to find it.

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Good grief, my grammar... thanks Melissa.

I would be interested in a discussion re. what adopted children call his or her birth parents... maybe this is a topic for a different thread.

There is a thread somewhere on here that discusses names for birthparents. I will try to find it.

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Melissa, I'm interested in that thread too (the one about what kids call their birthparents). Ella is only 2 but when I talk to her about this I say birthmommy and always use her 1st name. It's just the most natural thing for me to do. I haven't thought about it from the angle of what Ella will can her birthmom. Maybe I need some guidance.

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I will try to find it on here when I am not worn out and sleepy...

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I will try to find it on here when I am not worn out and sleepy...

That's right , young lady, it's time for the mommy of newborns to be in bed, especially if he is. Hope you had a great holiday, Melissa. Now get some sleep.

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Monica, you make me laugh... you sound like such a MOMMY!!! :lol:

I think it's lovely when folks refer to their child's birthmother as "Mama (Whomever)", although just using the birthparents' first names also seems to work just fine, provided the parents have explained to their child the significance of who that person is to them.

But it makes me scream when I hear of folks raising their kids with references to the birthmom as "Aunt So-and-So", or not ever explaining to the child that "our friend So-and-So" just happens to be the same nameless woman we refer to whenever we tell you your adoption story...

That's not being open nor honest. That's being obtuse.

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I agree Elizabeth and I remember reading in one of our adoption books that with adopted children you should only refer to aunts and uncles as such. (Ie don't refer to your friends as aunt and uncle to your child). Of course they gave a reason why and I don't remember it off the top of my head. I have kept that in my head since reading it.

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I love it too when I hear Tyler use Mommy Teresa or Madre Teresa - But right now the entire house is on first name basis - Maralou - no Mommy - no Maralou - Craig - no Daddy - NO Craig. Same for any family member that walks through the door. He started called - Poppy - Daddy - just because I run around saying it.

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I agree Elizabeth and I remember reading in one of our adoption books that with adopted children you should only refer to aunts and uncles as such. (Ie don't refer to your friends as aunt and uncle to your child). Of course they gave a reason why and I don't remember it off the top of my head. I have kept that in my head since reading it.

I would like to know the reason why...we refer to my best friend as uncle Jeremy. The kids love uncle Jeremy and I am not sure why them being adopted and refering to a family friend as uncle a bad thing. Jeremy and I are like brother and sister, I am even his best chick (man) for his wedding next week. Jeremy has told us on many occasions that he would do ANYTHING for our children, that's more than my brother in law would do and they call him uncle? I guess I am confused why that with adopted children you should only refer to aunts and uncles as such. (Ie don't refer to your friends as aunt and uncle to your child

Jennifer

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On the forum I usually refer to birthmom's prior to a placement as prospective or birthmom to be. But if you are matched and after just ask her what she would like to be called. Zachary's birthmom likes him to call her by her first name. Joshua's birthmom likes us to call her and eventually him Mama C.

Laural

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I thought it would be helpful to share some of the positive adoption lingo with any "Newbies" out there. These are some of the things Abrazo teaches at orientation. I also can remember some terms from the forum that I was unfamiliar with in the beginning.

Positive Language/Negative Language

Birthparent/Real Parent

My child/Adopted child

Terminate parental rights/Give up

Make an adoption plan/Give away

To parent/To keep

Was adopted/Is adopted

Here are some of the abreviations used on the forum:

AP - adoptive parent (AM & AF)

BP - birthparent (BP & BF) - contrary to my initial guess when I was new, BP is

not the "Bowel Movements" of newly adopted children

...Well, I am starting to go blank. Any other forumites able to add to the list?

I think a mom is mom no matter if she gave birth or adopted same with the father.

Both sides take part in caring,loving and supporting their child.

Personally with me i just feel lucky that my son will know that i am his "birthmom".

But this is just my opinion on the whole lingo thing.

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Here are some of the abreviations used on the forum:

AP - adoptive parent (AM & AF)

BP - birthparent (BP & BF)

I'm glad we have gotten away from these abbreviations on the forum.

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I agree Elizabeth and I remember reading in one of our adoption books that with adopted children you should only refer to aunts and uncles as such. (Ie don't refer to your friends as aunt and uncle to your child). Of course they gave a reason why and I don't remember it off the top of my head. I have kept that in my head since reading it.

I would like to know the reason why...we refer to my best friend as uncle Jeremy. The kids love uncle Jeremy and I am not sure why them being adopted and refering to a family friend as uncle a bad thing. Jeremy and I are like brother and sister, I am even his best chick (man) for his wedding next week. Jeremy has told us on many occasions that he would do ANYTHING for our children, that's more than my brother in law would do and they call him uncle? I guess I am confused why that with adopted children you should only refer to aunts and uncles as such. (Ie don't refer to your friends as aunt and uncle to your child

Jennifer

We too read this in one of the books about open adoption. I can't remember exactly what it said, but it had to do with how children who were adopted in an open adoption will have lots of family and it would help them in keeping track with the relatives in their lives. I wish I could remember the exact wording, but I think that's what it said.

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Here's something to think about...

Get Rid of "Gotcha"

by Karen Moline

Originally printed in Adoptive Families Magazine: used with permission

I could hear the whine coming closer and closer, until I could stand it no longer.

"Gotcha!" I said in triumph. Another mosquito swatted to oblivion.

"Gotcha" is my typical response when I've squashed a bug, caught a ball just before it would have rolled under the sofa, or managed to reach a roll of toilet paper on the top shelf at the store. It's a silly, slangy word.

As such, it's the last word I'd think to use if someone asked me to describe my feelings on the day, in a tiny orphanage off a dirt road outside of Da Nang, when I saw my child for the first time.

I find the use of "gotcha" to describe the act of adoption both astonishing and offensive. Aside from being parent-centered ("C'mere, little orphan, I gotcha now!") it smacks of acquiring a possession, not welcoming a new person into your life.

Yet many adoptive parents have elevated this casual word into shorthand for "The Day I Got You." This past year, one parent went further:

This was bound to happen, as "gotcha" has become thoroughly entrenched in adoption-speak: There are "Journey to Gotcha" blogs, and "Happy Gotcha Day" cards, banners, keychains—even crowns—available for sale on the Internet. At last Google, there were 2,480,004 hits for "Gotcha Day." Curious, I clicked on "Noah's Gotcha Day."

Noah is a cat.

It didn't surprise me to find that adoptees have a slightly different feeling about all these gushing gotchas. Eight-year-old Becca Lampman, who was adopted from China, said, "It sounds weird to say that—call it ‘Adoption Day' instead." Her 17-year-old sister, Elena, adopted from Romania, agreed: "I wouldn't like hearing ‘Gotcha Day' used in my family. To me, it sounds like someone snatched you away from your birth family, or almost like you are a prize that was won...it has a gloating, ha-ha tone to it."

"We celebrate my Adoption Day, and I like that," she added. "Being adopted is worth celebrating, and ‘Adoption Day' is respectful sounding."

Adult adoptee Hanna Sofia Jung Johansson pointedly asked, "What is being celebrated [on Gotcha Day]? Parenthood and the new family, I guess. But do adoptive parents acknowledge their child's losses at the same time? ‘Gotcha' for parents means ‘lost-ya' for children who have been separated from familiar faces, smells, and surroundings."

Another adult adoptee, Eun Mi Young, is equally blunt. "While endearing to adoptive parents, ‘Gotcha' is downright disrespectful to adoptees," she says. "What does this term imply? We use it when we grab someone who is running from us, or when we save someone from something, or when we're playing a game. We shouldn't use it for an event that recalls the loss of culture, country, and birthparents."

I ran this concept past Margaret Schwartz, founder of International Gotcha Day, and she conceded that perhaps "Gotcha" wasn't the best word. "I wanted to raise awareness with the general public about the joys of adoption," she told me, "and I'm open to changing the name of the event."

Why not simply call it "Adoption Day" or "Family Day," or, if there are already kids at home, "Siblings Day"? Why commodify and demean adoptees—and ourselves—by using a silly, slangy term to describe the day we became complete families?

Save "gotcha" for mosquitoes.

KAREN MOLINE is a novelist, journalist, and ghostwriter. She lives in New York City with her son, Emmanuel Thanh Sang, adopted from Da Nang, Viet Nam, in August 2001.

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I was not comfortable with the term "gotcha day", which I guess is why we have never used it. I have friends who celebrate this day every year with their children. I kinda wondered what was wrong with me, that I did not "get it". I feel better knowing others would rather drop the catch phase altogether (too).

I also admit we have never celebrated our children's finalization day or adoption day either, except on that actual day so many years ago. I can't remember which month or day it was, now. To me, it feels like we would be celebrating (or emphasizing) the wrong day with our children.

Their Birthday is our big celebration, even though I was not there. God was.

So what about placement day? A day filled with lots of emotion, loss and joy. I can't call it a celebration, more like a Blessing from God. So I will continue to quietly say a special prayer in honor of our children's birthparents on that second and third day after their birthdays.

Karen

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I've never cared for this term either. We have marked the day Kate's adoption was finalized, for each of the past 2 years, in a way that celebrates the family we've become. We do something all together and remember the day and its importance as a step in the wonderful journey we took. If other children join our family, we'll mark those dates too in the same way - -celebrating the days our family expanded, with the focus on all of us as a family unit.

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We have marked the day Kate's adoption was finalized, for each of the past 2 years, in a way that celebrates the family we've become. We do something all together and remember the day and its importance as a step in the wonderful journey we took.

Sounds like a wonderful way to remember the importance of this day. I like hearing what other families do.

Karen

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I too have never liked the term "gotcha." That word, like the article said, just makes me think of a possession. I too liken it to the word snatch. I guess to me using the word gotcha sounds more like it is about the adoptive parents and not child.

We also celebrate Family Day on the day Avery's adoption was finalized. We do special things together as a family. Nothing fancy...this year we made blueberry pancakes, played in the backyard, danced, and went out for ice cream. Avery still talks about our Family Day even though these are things we might do on any day. For us, it's a day to celebrate our family and the love we have for each other. It's kind of like a day of Thanksgiving in a way. If we are blessed to have more children in our family, we will celebrate more family days each year. :)

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