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Learning the Language of Adoption: Advice from the AAP and the DCFS

 Posted on January 12, 2015 in Children

language of adoption

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), both highly dedicated to the health and well-being of all children, would like to remind medical professionals, family and friends associated with a recent adoption that often unnecessary or thoughtless language can damage the already fragile self-esteem level of the child and even perhaps the adoptive parents.

In conjunction with the AAP, the DCFS offers the Let’s Talk! Respectful Adoption Language and Behavior booklet, both online and in hard-copy form to all medical professionals or interested adoptive families or friends interested in the Do’s and Don’ts of adoption language and behavior.

The following guidelines provide respectful options for broaching the subject of adoption. These guidelines may also prove helpful to those couples considering adoption as to what may be appropriate and what may be insensitive.


  • Use "birth child" and "adoptive child" only when relevant, such as when discussing family medical histories,
  • Follow the same guideline when opting to use "birth parent" and "adoptive parent,"
  • Practice equality for all children - those born into the family and those adopted, and
  • Refer to the birth parents as "choosing not to parent" instead of "giving up" the child.

Do Not

  • Refer to a biological child of the parents as a "real child" or "natural child", this only isolates the adoptive child,
  • Refer to the child’s biological parents as the "natural parents,"
  • Differentiate between children born into the family and those who were adopted, or
  • Discuss the adoption in negative terms with regard to the birth parent’s decision.
If you are considering adoption and want to learn more about the legal language of adoption, the caring and experienced Lombard adoption attorneys of A. Traub & Associates can help. Contact our office to schedule your initial consultation today.
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