Adoption Language
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If you are newly reunited here are some simple terms that you might find useful. They are used every day on the internet. The language of adoption is changing quickly as the politics heats up between pro and anti-adoption movements in this country. Words have power and some labels are more hurtful than others. As we were once considered "unwed mothers" society has embraced the "single mother" today, reflecting the fact that it's now acceptable to raise your own child without a marriage contract.

adoptive brother-sibling in the adoptive family. Can mean natural child of the adoptive family.

adoptive father

Adopted person
what adoptees like to be called

children who are adopted

a couple who adopted a child

Adoption plan
modern phrase - refers to a pregnant woman who plans to either have an open adoption or closed. The mother has control over where the child will be placed

adoptive mother

adoptive parents

As if
what women were told to do after they signed their surrender papers: to go on with life "as if" nothing happened

adoptive sister-sibling in the adoptive family. Can also mean a natural child of the parents


a term given to natural fathers by the adoption industry

a term given to natural mothers by the adoption industry. It is sometimes wrongly used to describe an expectant mother who is considering adoption. All expectant mothers should be called mother until they decide what is best for themselves and their own child.

Birthmother Day
the day before Mother's day, created in Seattle, Washington by a group of natural mothers in 1990

a respectful way of including women who had to surrender twins or women who surrendered two children

Closed adoption
an adoption wherein all records are sealed and therefore, the adopted person has no information concerning his/her birth or origins

Date of Birth

Exiled mother
A natural mother who has lost a child to adoption and become an activist in the anti-adoption movement

an attorney or agency or any other organization that arranges adoptions

an alternative name for a woman who surrendered her child/ren to adoption

Foster parents
temporary home for children until permanent placement can be found

Face-to-face meeting usually between a mother and her newly found adult child/ren

Genetic sexual attraction. Mutual attraction after reunion

the first stage of reunion, often the first year when the reunited parent and child look at each other through rose colored glasses. Much like the early stages of a romance.

Korean adoptions

Natural mother
a respectful term for women who lost her child/ren to adoption

Non ID
non Identifying information given to adoptees and mothers by homes and agencies that handled the adoption

Original Birth Certificate, rarely ever seen or obtained

Open adoption
an arrangement wherein the natural mother knows the adopters of her child/ren and is allowed some kind of contact. Not enforceable by law

Open records
natural mothers and adopted persons, seek open records which contain personal information so that they can find each other. Currently only a few states have open records for adult adoptees

Potential Adoptive Parents

Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Usually referred to what natural mothers suffer, not unlike Vietnam Vets

when one party in a reunion ceases to communicate or cuts back communication sharply

the age regression experienced by the natural mother during the initial stages of reunion to the age she was when she relinquished. Also can be experienced by the adoptee as he/she regresses to younger ages. Common for both

another word for surrendering a child

Roller coaster
the ups and downs of reunion and the intense feelings it causes

Search Angel
someone who has helped reunite families

a friend who helps an adopted person or natural mother find each other

Searching mom
a natural mother searching for her relinquished child/ren

refers to the official papers signed giving up parental rights. Many natural mothers use this term because they were coerced and had to surrender

SW's, SWer's
Social Workers

the three parts of the adoption triangle: adoptive parents, adopted person, and natural mother and/or father...anti-adoption activists do not recognize the "triad" and refer only to the Dyad of the natural mother and child


If there are other terms you think we should include on this list, please contact us on our Become a Member page.




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