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MarkLaurie

Positive Adoption Language

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The link worked for me, Kay, and I am still picking my jaw up off the floor!

I just don't even know what to say right now.

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I think the whole site was strange. That was a lot of personal information and disgusting. She seems to be treating these babies as commodities. The facilitator doesn't seem to care about these birth mothers as people who will grieve the lose of their children.

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I too am picking my jaw up after reading this. Wow, it is hard to believe someone put that in public where so many others can read it. I agree, this lady sounds like she cares nothing about the birth mothers, just sees the expectant mothers and birth mothers as keeping her business going, a paycheck. How so very sad.

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Wow, that really is unbelievable. I hope she treats the BMs better than she talks about them. Oh, I hope.

Had one of my first "adoption moments" the other day. We were at dinner with some friends and the wife asked, "So why didn't the mom want her?" I about flew across the table and smacked her. Good thing I didn't. I assured her that of course the BP's wanted her more than anything, but just made a very courageous and selfless decision give her the life they thought she should have. Whew. 1 down! I was amazed at the fire that started in my heart when she said that, though. It was harmless on her part...she just didn't know what words to use. Hopefully now she does.

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Geez-- is that "facilitator" even licensed? If she is, someone should take her license away!

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Opps...apparently I wasn't supposed to use the letters BP for birthmom. Sorry about that. I can't find the edit option, so I'll just put it out there. Really hadn't thought of that one before.

Its a little ironic that a mistake like that would happen on this thread. Oh, keeps me humble. :)

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Opps...apparently I wasn't supposed to use the letters BP for birthmom. Sorry about that. I can't find the edit option, so I'll just put it out there. Really hadn't thought of that one before.

Its a little ironic that a mistake like that would happen on this thread. Oh, keeps me humble. :)

It's okay Jill...we're all still learning!

I actually had an older lady I've known for years through church ask me that same question in front of my son one day when I ran into her at Costco!! :o :o :o It's been several years ago, and I don't think he heard her, but I said pretty much what you said, and then I lowered my voice and asked her to please think before she asked a question like that in front of my son again.

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Opps...apparently I wasn't supposed to use the letters BP for birthmom. Sorry about that. I can't find the edit option, so I'll just put it out there. Really hadn't thought of that one before.

Its a little ironic that a mistake like that would happen on this thread. Oh, keeps me humble. :)

Good grief...I meant B with an M. I think the forum changed it for me. THanks forum!!! I'm losing it. :( Sorry!

Edited by Jill P.

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You're right, Jill... through the webmaster's magic, there are certain terms that are automatically edited/out when used on our Forum, and that potentially-offensive two-letter abbreviation for 'birthmother' is one of them! ;)

The system automatically substitutes less offensive words or phrases for all the naughty words, as well, which makes for some pretty funny reading if you don't realize what the cheese pizza happened to your original post! LOL

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I could really use some help from my forum family here. Our lead elder just returned this past week from China with the daughter they have been waiting for. He keeps making posts on fb referrng to her as his adopted daughter and my blood pressure rises every time and it grates on my last nerve.

How can I best approach him online about this? They are working on bonding with her right now, so they are at home and we won't be seeing them for a few more weeks. I spoke to the church last weekend and printed up a pamphlet of positive adoption language with definitions for common terms.

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I could really use some help from my forum family here. Our lead elder just returned this past week from China with the daughter they have been waiting for. He keeps making posts on fb referrng to her as his adopted daughter and my blood pressure rises every time and it grates on my last nerve.

How can I best approach him online about this? They are working on bonding with her right now, so they are at home and we won't be seeing them for a few more weeks. I spoke to the church last weekend and printed up a pamphlet of positive adoption language with definitions for common terms.

Maybe once they bond, he will drop the "adopted" part. I would probably give them some time and then if he still says it, I would say something.

Just curious, do they have other children?

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Here's an excellent blog about the importance of positive adoption language (and even more important, healthy adoption perspectives) that should be a must-read for all of us who are (or support) parents that/have adopt/ed: http://theadoptiveparent.blogspot.com/2010/07/open-letter-to-adoptive-parents-and.html. (Text appears below, in case the link goes bad.)

Dear Adoptive Parent/Prospective Adoptive Parent,

Today I came across yet another blog of a prospective adoptive couple using their blog to chronicle their "journey to adoption." Sadly, it read more like an online tantrum:

"We've spent a fortune already and we still don't have a baby. We were matched with a birth mother last year who changed her mind after she gave birth and she refused to follow through. I'm still angry about that! Everything was set until the birth father got involved and that was the end of it. He was uninvolved for the whole pregnancy and then decided to care after we made an agreement with the birth mother. It's not fair!"

I'm an adoptive parent myself. I understand the agony of infertility. I experienced the gut-wrenching uncertainty and anxiety and helplessness of the adoptive process. And I understand using your blog as a release valve; I often do the same thing. However, (deep breath), I don't understand the attitude of entitlement. I don't understand resentment toward birth families who ultimately decide to raise the children they themselves create (How dare they?). I don't understand how you don't understand that some of the language you use is crass and base and incredibly insensitive. I don't understand how you think you will love a child as children need to be loved when you seem to have such a low opinion of birth families.

Certainly, you can use whatever language you choose; it's your blog. But when I read the words below on an AP/PAP blog... it scares me. Seriously. It scares me because it reflects a narrow, self-centric perspective on adoption that I think is unsettling at best and dangerous at worst. I know first-hand the challenges of adopting. I'm NOT suggesting you deny your feelings or just grin and bear it. You need the support of people who know what you're going through.

What I am suggesting is that if you're working so hard to become a parent perhaps you should work harder on expressing your feelings with more sensitivity to birth families, adoptees, and other APs and PAPs.

Words to look out for:

1. Words that refer to the cost of adoption - cost, money, expensive, finances, savings, loan, etc. When PAPs complain about how much money they've invested in the adoption process I want to shake them and say, "I know birth mothers who would give everything they have, including body parts, to be able to raise their children or to have contact with the children they placed for adoption. These women paid dearly for their decisions, and you're crabbing about what it costs you?" You can choose to adopt privately or from foster care if you can't or don't want to pay adoption agency fees. Unless you're discussing ethics and the need for adoption reform, complaining about money is tacky and insensitive.

2. "Deal", "promise", or "agreement" as in "We made a deal with a birth mother but she changed her mind," or "She promised to let us witness the birth," or "She violated our agreement." I'm not even sure where to start with this one. You made a deal? She made a child. She has the right and obligation to make the best decisions she can on her child's behalf, regardless of what plans she may have made earlier in her pregnancy. Hormones, denial, stress, support resources, health... things change rapidly during pregnancy. Most parents waffle for months over what to name the baby, what color to paint the nursery, and whether or not to introduce a pacifier. Please, show some respect for one of the most important decisions a woman can be faced with.

3. "Lie", "deceive", or "manipulate." Even if it's true. Even if you can prove it. Even if it hurts a lot. Assume that it was unintentional. Assume that she did the best she could under the circumstances. Assume that anyone who deliberately deceives you is in a worse position than you are.

4. "Our" as in "our birth mother" or "our baby." They're not.

5. "Want." Of course you want a child, perhaps more than you've ever wanted anything in your life. I get that. But "I want, I want, we want..." makes you sound grabby. What you want is still a part of another woman's body. That's pretty heavy.

6. "Hero." Birth parents aren't heroes. Well, I know some who deserve the title :), but speaking generally, they're no more or less heroic than anyone else. Birth parents make the decision to place because they think it's best for their baby, not for you. It's not about you. It wasn't about me, either. It's not about making an infertile couple's dreams come true. It's not about being a hero.

7. "Deserve." You don't deserve children any more than I do. No one does. It's not a birth mother's responsibility to provide you with a child. She's not a breeding sow.

8. "Pray." Please, please, please don't ask people to pray that a birth mother "makes the right decision and gives us her baby" or anything along that line. Do you believe that God would rip a woman apart mind, body and spirit in order to answer your prayer? Do you really want to believe that? I'll pray with you for grace and patience. I'll pray with you for peace. I'll pray with you for a birth mother's strength and clarity. And I'll pray with you for everyone's health. Please don't ask people to pray for you to get what you want at the expense of someone else. Is that what you're going to teach your child?

Sally Bacchetta - Freelance Writer

The Adoptive Parent

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Great article about perspective! I needed to hear this today.

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LOVE LOVE LOVE this

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Dear Adoptive Parent/Prospective Adoptive Parent,

8. "Pray." Please, please, please don't ask people to pray that a birth mother "makes the right decision and gives us her baby" or anything along that line. Do you believe that God would rip a woman apart mind, body and spirit in order to answer your prayer? Do you really want to believe that? I'll pray with you for grace and patience. I'll pray with you for peace. I'll pray with you for a birth mother's strength and clarity. And I'll pray with you for everyone's health. Please don't ask people to pray for you to get what you want at the expense of someone else. Is that what you're going to teach your child?

This irks me until no end!! I read stuff like this on the forum all the time too. Nobody ever says they hope things will turn around for the mothers that want to parent their children but are backed into placing them because of life's circumstances. Kinda a heavy flip side.

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Kristal,

You have a point, but there are some people who do wish that life gets wonderful for their kids birth parents. That's the prayer I say every single time for my sons birth moms, I hope and pray that that they find a way to peace and happiness. That they are able to meet the needs of the children they do parent without struggle and stress. I pray that they find love and joy. I pray that they will stay in our lives so that they will always know the sons we share. When families here on the forum are joining thru adoption, I know that some pray for placements to happedn, but I am sure may are praying for birthfamilies and peaceful hearts, better days and bountiful lives..no matter what happens with the adoption process.

Hugs to you and yours....How is your beautiful Karina these days?

heidi

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Kristal,

You have a point, but there are some people who do wish that life gets wonderful for their kids birth parents. That's the prayer I say every single time for my sons birth moms, I hope and pray that that they find a way to peace and happiness. That they are able to meet the needs of the children they do parent without struggle and stress. I pray that they find love and joy. I pray that they will stay in our lives so that they will always know the sons we share. When families here on the forum are joining thru adoption, I know that some pray for placements to happedn, but I am sure may are praying for birthfamilies and peaceful hearts, better days and bountiful lives..no matter what happens with the adoption process.

Hugs to you and yours....How is your beautiful Karina these days?

heidi

Amen Heidi! Very well said. I too say many of these same prayers for Lathan's birthmom.

Kristal, I bet Karina is really getting big and sooo cute. Would love to see a picture of her.

Tracey

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I meant more along the lines of "Oh I hope that all the birth mothers who are only placing because of life's circumstances get those issues resolved before they have to place their child" That's what I'm talking about. I'd hope most people want the lives of the placing parents to get better, but it seems no one ever wishes that before the placement if thats all it would take to change the outcome.

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I see your point Kristal....it makes sense. I wish that there were more options to explore instead of placement too. Thanks for reminding me of that

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Dear Adoptive Parent/Prospective Adoptive Parent,

8. "Pray." Please, please, please don't ask people to pray that a birth mother "makes the right decision and gives us her baby" or anything along that line. Do you believe that God would rip a woman apart mind, body and spirit in order to answer your prayer? Do you really want to believe that? I'll pray with you for grace and patience. I'll pray with you for peace. I'll pray with you for a birth mother's strength and clarity. And I'll pray with you for everyone's health. Please don't ask people to pray for you to get what you want at the expense of someone else. Is that what you're going to teach your child?

This irks me until no end!! I read stuff like this on the forum all the time too. Nobody ever says they hope things will turn around for the mothers that want to parent their children but are backed into placing them because of life's circumstances. Kinda a heavy flip side.

First of all, I love to see you back on the Forum, Kristal... thank you for being here! It's by "hearing" each other's perspectives and exploring new ideas that each of us better formulates our own thoughts and opinions, so I truly appreciate what you are doing to help us all further explore this particular train of thought.

Secondly, while I "get" what you're saying, I think the Forum (as with any adoption agency-sponsored website) is pretty obviously intended to be a means of support for those who view the adoption option as a blessing, whether they're expectant moms not ready for parenthood, or wannabe-parents hoping to adopt. (Or other folks, whose lives have been somehow touched by adoption in a positive way.)

I have seen plenty of prayers around here, petitioning God to lend strength and discernment to those in need, regardless of the outcome. (But frankly, I also don't see alot of Forum prayers on behalf of those who decide to abort rather than place, or for those adopting parents whose trust in their child's birthparents has been violated in some way. Still, I don't expect to, because Abrazo's Forum may not be the most appropriate venue for those types of petitions in every instance.) However heartbroken some of our prospective adopters may be when an expectant mom with whom they were matched for months decides at the end to take her baby home from the hospital without being truly prepared to do so, you also never see any prayers beseeching God to make her change her mind-- even if perhaps some "should", perhaps (as suggested by the numbers of those babies that ultimately end up in the permanent care of Child Protective Services.) The Bible tells us there's a time and place for everything under the sun, and the Forum obviously cannot be everyone's time and place all the time.

I think our community does periodically lift in pray those who elect to parent, as well as those who wish they could but have decided for themselves that they can't because of life's circumstances... still, Kristal: if you feel there are not enough of these prayer petitions being lifted around here, why not add some of your own, in a way that is genuinely prayerful? (Just a thought.)

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Kristal,

Your post is appreciated!

Elizabeth,

Your post is definitely worth reading!

Cathy

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I meant more along the lines of "Oh I hope that all the birth mothers who are only placing because of life's circumstances get those issues resolved before they have to place their child" That's what I'm talking about. I'd hope most people want the lives of the placing parents to get better, but it seems no one ever wishes that before the placement if thats all it would take to change the outcome.

Kristal, I think it is key that placements are made because parents believe it is what they need to do. I can't fathom all the thoughts and emotions that go into making an adoption plan. I only know what I hear from our girls' moms and a few others that have placed. Our girls' moms still have difficult moments, but they are content with their decision and are happy with the way we are raising the girls and with their decisions. From what I have gathered on the forum from the Abrazo Chicks, they tend to have families think through their reasons for placing and discourage it when it is due to feeling like they "have to."

If it is a temporary issue, there are some programs that might help or family/friends that could provide assistance for a time until things turn around. I don't know how stressful a relationship would be if an adoptive parent knew that the birthparent regretted placement.

There is no diplomatic way to say this--It totally sucks that adoption exists, but without it I would have such an emptiness in me. I did not want my joy at being a parent to be at another's expense. To this point, I am thankful that we are working through those issues with our girls' first families and doing our best to keep those relationships going and giving space when asked to.

I appreciate your sharing another perspective of this often difficult process!

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A thought-provoking piece from the New York Times, about the importance of words amidst the changes of adoption: LISTEN! (Text appears below in case in the link goes bad.) I have known Lorraine Dusky from many years of attending adoption conferences nationwide, and I am thankful Lorraine now has the positive relationship with her birthgranddaughter that she was, sadly, unable to achieve with the daughter she placed.

Adoption, Reunion, Connection

By SUSAN DOMINUS (New York Times)

Published: August 6, 2010

Listen: Lorraine Dusky has come unstuck in time.

Kurt Vonnegut wrote that first, about Billy Pilgrim, the time-traveling soldier in “Slaughterhouse-Five.” And Ms. Dusky has Vonnegut to thank for her version of time travel, too.

In 1966, Ms. Dusky, pregnant and single, had her baby placed with an adoptive family. Anguished by the loss of that child, she wrote a memoir, “Birthmark” (1979), one of the first published accounts from an unwed mother who chose adoption. In 1981, when her biological daughter turned 15, Ms. Dusky managed to establish contact. The two became close, and also had fallings out. During one such gap in their relationship, the daughter, Jane Pertzborn, then 20, had an unintended pregnancy. Her baby, too, was adopted.

Ms. Dusky, now 66, was not actually forced, like Vonnegut’s Billy Pilgrim,to relive moments of her life over and over, but it sometimes felt that way. “I thought, ‘Oh my God — what did I start?’ ” recalled Ms. Dusky, who had become an active critic of how adoption was handled.

Over time, Ms. Dusky has also experienced, up close, how much adoption has changed since 1966. When she was young, women were said to give up their babies for adoption; now, in the parlance of the agencies, women make an adoption plan (Ms. Dusky rejects that language as too distancing). In the 1980s, Ms. Dusky found Ms. Pertzborn by mailing a greeting card stuffed with cash to a mysterious source; these days, search specialists abound. Open adoptions have become commonplace.

Ms. Pertzborn never expressed interest in meeting her own biological daughter (though she spoke of her sometimes to Ms. Dusky, to whom she remained close). After Ms. Pertzborn committed suicide in 2007, Ms. Dusky decided to reach out to her biological granddaughter. Through a state social worker, she learned that the desire was not reciprocal. Perhaps that part of Ms. Dusky’s life — the reward of the longed-for reunion — would not be repeated.

Then, another inquiry, initiated earlier through a search specialist, yielded a name, which yielded, after a Google search, a person: Lisa Brimmer, 24, writer, poet, singer, blogger. On Nov. 19, 2009, Ms. Dusky read this post on Ms. Brimmer’s blog: “KV’s birthday is tomorrow — that’s right folks — so ladies — pick up some Mother Night.”

Ms. Dusky, a longtime magazine writer, recognized the reference to the Vonnegut book. She and her husband, the writer Anthony Brandt, lived in Sag Harbor and had been friendly with Vonnegut, who also had a home on Long Island. Ms. Pertzborn — Ms. Brimmer’s biological mother — had actually worked briefly as a nanny for the Vonneguts one summer.

“This is ridiculous,” Ms. Dusky recalled thinking to herself. “I decided, ‘I’m going to e-mail her.’ She wants to be a writer — I’m going to tell her she comes from writers.”

Ms. Brimmer e-mailed her back.

Ms. Dusky’s life has been defined, sometimes painfully, by its subversion of the expected order of things: a baby before marriage, a woman outliving the child she brought into life. In connecting with Ms. Brimmer, once again, Ms. Dusky is unstuck from time — this time, more happily, starting where things never did 24 years ago. In July, when Ms. Brimmer went to Sag Harbor to visit for a week, Ms. Dusky got to know a fully formed adult, complete with glamorous sunglasses and a tattoo on her left wrist that says, in tribute to Vonnegut, “Listen.”

FEW adoption reunions are simply happy endings; they are often fraught beginnings, and so it was for Ms. Brimmer and Ms. Dusky. Ms. Dusky saw similarities everywhere — the writing, the fondness for fedoras. Ms. Brimmer saw differences, starting with how they looked. Ms. Brimmer, who is biracial, knew that Ms. Dusky was white, but had hoped to see — and craved — a closer facial resemblance.

They both know they care enough to try to build something out of whatever tenuous or primal link connects them. “I think you have to start as friends first before you build those other bonds,” said Ms. Brimmer, who lives in Minneapolis.

Ms. Dusky wrote frankly about the challenges of the reunion on her own blog, Birth Mother, First Mother Forum.

Ms. Dusky prefers the term “first mother” to “birth mother.” Those are words that “make me sound like a baby machine, a conduit without emotion,” Ms. Dusky has written. As the notion of family keeps shifting, the language will, too, and sometimes it will inevitably be inadequate to the task.

E-mail: susan.dominus@nytimes.com

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Words matter! Please mind yours.

http://networkedblogs.com/oHTnz

Text appears below in case the link goes bad.

Positive Adoption Language:

Words are very powerful. Positive adoption language aims to end the negative stereotypes and misconceptions regarding adoption, while educating others that all families look different and form in different ways. Here are some keys to positive adoption language.

1. The adoptive parents are the “real” parents. The real parents are the grown-ups who will take care of the child every day and for the rest of their lives. When referring to who gave birth to the child, simply say birth parent or birth woman. A biological father is not referred to as the real father, but the biological one.

2. We often hear biological parents of children referred to as the “natural” parents. This negatively implies that there is something unnatural about being an adoptive parent. Biological parents should simply be referred to as biological parents.

3. Adoptive families do not refer to their own children as an adopted child, a natural child, or my own child (meaning biological or by birth). All children in families are the parent’s own children.

4. Adoption is an event that happened in a child’s life when the child joined his or her family. Using positive adoption language, notice use of verb tense. The child “was” adopted indicates that the event is past tense and already happened. To say that a child “is” adopted implies the process is still ongoing. This is not true. We would simply say, “George was adopted.”

5. When speaking about adoption, it is important to note that birth parents make an adoption plan to place the child in a home to be cared for and raised. The child who was adopted was not “given away” or “unwanted.” The child should know he or she is loved and an adoption plan was created for them to live in a forever family.

6. Children born to unmarried parents are simply referred to as that. Using positive adoption language, the child is would never be referred to as “illegitimate.” Every human being is a true miracle and has a legitimate place on the Earth.

7. Children who were adopted and later seek out their biological parents should not be referred to as “trying to track down their real parents.” The child is “searching” for biological parents. If they meet, it is not a “reunion,” but instead referred to as “making contact.”

8. A child adopted from another country is not a “foreign” child. The word foreign implies that it does not belong. Instead, the child is from abroad.

9. Using positive adoption language, we would never refer to a child as “adopted,” just as we would never say an “IVF” baby, a failed contraception baby, or a c-section baby.

10. Adoption is a private matter between a child and his or her family. All families form in different ways, are all equally beautiful, and should be respected as such.

For more information, please visit www.adoptivefamilies.com.

By Rachel Wallace Reid, Certified Montessori Teacher and Parent Educator

All content copyright http://www.ParentingTree.org

© ParentingTree.org 2011

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