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Not “Giving Up”: Why It’s Important To Use Positive Language in Adoption

When researching Adoption in Arizona or entering into the adoption field, it is not uncommon to find the placement of a child up for adoption referred to as “giving your child up” for adoption. Undoubtedly, this popular adoption phrase is severely antiquated and problematic in today’s supportive adoption climate. The term certainly appears to be a shocking and upsetting way to phrase such a wonderful process for those first encountering it. After all, no parent wants to feel like they are giving up on their child or failing them in any way. This is why here at Adoption Choices of Arizona, we are dedicated to informing birth parents about the reasons the term has been and continues to be used and ensuring that it is removed from the adoption glossary. It is important for those going through the adoption process use positive language in adoption.

If you need adoption help now, please call or text us at 1-480-900-5520 or visit us at Adoption Choices of Arizona.

Why Is The Choice To Have Your Child Adopted Sometimes Referred To As Giving The Up in Arizona?

The phrase “give a child up” in reference to adoption originates from a movement in the 1800s where homeless parents would quite literally leave their children on trains to abandon them in hopes that they would be freed from the responsibility of childcare. There was no concern for the child’s wellbeing or development whatsoever. It stems from a moment in history when “giving up” is exactly what parents were doing. So why is such a cruel and outdated term still used in the adoption field today? After all, modern adoption is all about the positive opportunities birth parents can give themselves, their child, and an adoptive family. It looks nothing like hauling kids on railroad cars. 

Unfortunately, the phrase simply embedded itself into the adoption industry to such a great extent that contemporary agencies are afraid to discontinue its use. It all revolves around the fact that positive adoption language or PAL has not yet made its way into mainstream society the way that older, yet inaccurate terms such as “giving up” have. This makes it so that many birth parents looking to pursue adoption will search these phrases to learn more information about the process. The result is that agencies still feature the expression in their written materials and on their websites in order to guarantee that any family looking for adoption support can access it. Thus, in a seemingly backward sense, the use of the term is to help people.

This, however, does not have to always be the case. If positive adoption language is popularized to the extent of which it can make its way into mainstream media and replace any of its hurtful predecessors, then adoption as an industry can start to change the tide on how it is described. With the tools below, you can be part of the movement to shift how we as a nation talk about adoption.

Why It Is Important Not to Refer To Adoption As Giving Up

Although it may be clear to some why the usage of “give up” in adoption can be hurtful, to others it may not be as apparent. If someone said “you should give up your child for adoption,” how would it make you feel? Would you feel like a bad parent? Would you feel like adoption was not the most loving choice you could make for your child? Perhaps you might begin to associate adoption with admitting defeat. Regardless of how you feel, most would agree the feeling is not a very positive one. “Give up” suggests that a birth parent simply does not care for their child, like those who disposed of theirs on trains in the 1800s. It suggests that the birth parent is a quitter or could not handle the responsibility of loving a child. Any adoption specialist or birth parent can tell you that this all could not be further from the truth.

In reality, parents place their children up for adoption because they care about their futures and the opportunities they could potentially have. No birth parent should be made to feel like they do not care for their child. In addition, using “give up” to refer to adoption can easily make birth parents less confident in their decision. They can feel as if adoption is not a viable option for them if they actually care for their child. Instead of inviting parents to choose adoption, it scares them away from it. Discontinuing the use of this term will remind birth parents of the love and respect they have for not only their children but for themselves as well. 

Using Positive Language in Adoption During The Adoption Process

As mentioned above, in order to foster a warm and welcoming adoption environment for all birth parents, it is important to use Positive Adoption Language or PAL. PAL is one of the largest steps in the adoption world to destigmatize and revolutionize the social view of adoption. Below are lists of problematic adoption terms and PAL to replace them.

Problematic Adoption Language:

Positive Adoption Language:

These are only a few of the most prevalent problematic phrases, however, there are many more used in everyday discussions. It is important to explore the many areas of adoption that may have somewhat damaging language and be aware of where it can be found.

Eliminating the Use of “Giving Up” to Refer To Adoption and Promote the Use of Positive Language in Adoption

At Adoption Choices of Arizona, we want to make sure every birth parent understands the love and care that adoption involves. Unfortunately, much of the popularized language in adoptions can make families doubt their choice and the process as a whole. However, today can be the start of something new as we end the use of negative phrasing such as “give up” in the adoption community and transform the industry for the better. 

So, the next time you are researching adoption agencies Phoenix, AZ, make sure to use PAL to encourage agencies to eliminate any harmful language and promote the terms that matter. Together we can remind every birth parent that they are giving opportunities, not giving up. So reach out to Adoption Choices of Arizona to start expanding your PAL vocabulary today!

For adoption resources or to begin your adoption journey, birth parents can visit us at Adoption Choices of Arizona or call or text us at 1-480-900-5520. If you are a prospective adoptive family hoping to adopt a baby, please instead, visit us here!

PeterMeet the Author: Peter is a writer and editor based in New York. Currently studying at Binghamton University, Peter is majoring in English Literature and Rhetoric. Whether working with Marketing Choices or the mental health blog, Runaway, Peter seeks to provide comfort and warmth to those around him through his writing. A huge advocate for change, Peter looks to promote adoption, mental health awareness, disability awareness, and environmental improvement. Forever looking to make meaningful connections, Peter can be found with a group of friends or going on walks and waving to anyone he passes.

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