Birth Mother Blog Putting baby up for adoption

Why Do We Say “Give Up Baby” for Adoption? 

By Eric Somarriba

It’s likely that when someone is talking about adoption, they’ll say something like: “she gave up her baby for adoption.” This is some of the default language used when talking about the adoption process, but it’s something that can change. The phrase “giving up” has a negative effect on the perception of adoption. What is a deeply personal decision made from love can suddenly sound callous and uncaring with only a few words. We’re here to challenge those words and instead encourage the use of positive adoption language, or PAL.

Adoption Choices of Missouri is an adoption agency that will always advocate for the adoption process. We understand the amount of courage it takes to make the choice to place a baby for adoption. It isn’t an easy decision to come to, and we want to empower that choice with positive language.

Why is “Giving Up” Negative Adoption Language?

Using the phrase “giving up” or anything similar misrepresents adoption in Missouri.  Adoption overall is a more positive process. Saying a birth mother gave up their baby for adoption makes it sound as if they simply abandoned their baby. This isn’t truly representative of the adoption process. A birth mother chooses adoption due to the love they have for their child. More often than not, they know that they don’t have the means to support a family. They choose adoption to give their child the opportunity to have a better life. It’s an emotional sacrifice for many, not simply handing off a baby and not caring what happens to it. While every birth mother has their own unique circumstances, a unifying element is that they do love their children. Even with an unplanned pregnancy, a mother still has a deep love for their baby.

There’s long been a level of stigma towards the adoption process due to a variety of reasons. Some see birth mothers as uncaring; they worry adoptees will suffer or are just generally uninformed. The use of negative adoption language, even if not done purposefully maliciously, continues this stigma even today. Giving up is only one of many phrases that negatively affect the perception of adoption. The good thing about language, however, is that it is always evolving, and often for the better.

Positive Adoption Language to Use and Negative Language to Avoid

Different words can have different meanings from person to person. There isn’t always one perfect set of words to use in every situation. When talking about adoption, we encourage acknowledging the unique circumstances one might be in, and changing your language accordingly. There are certain words and phrases we try to avoid, and positive adoption language we substitute it with.

Instead of saying that a birth mother gave up their child, we say that they placed their child for adoption. It seems like an insignificant change of only a few words, but now it carries a different meaning. Hearing that someone gave up their baby might make you think of abandonment or that a birth mother failed their child. Saying that they placed their baby for adoption carries, at the very least, a more neutral tone. 

A term we don’t use when referring to the action of performing an adoption is facilitation. This is because, in the context of adoption, it’s linked to adoption facilitators. These are unlicensed adoption professionals who often don’t have the best interests of each party in mind. There are many ethical concerns involved with them, so much so that many states outlaw them entirely. To avoid any kind of association with them, we try to exclude the word from our adoption vocabulary.

These are ultimately just a few examples out of many. When discussing adoption, keep in mind who you are talking to, and what kind of connotation your words may have.

Positive Adoption Language with Adoption Choices of Missouri

We hope you’re now informed on positive and negative adoption language and that you’ll keep it in mind. Words have immense power, and just changing a few will have a big impact on those you discuss adoption with. Together we can continue to shift the frame on adoption and change its perception for the better. Birth mothers don’t simply give up their children and move on. They go through the long process of creating an adoption plan, all for the sake of their child. We want to create a positive environment for every member of the adoption process. Proactively changing our language for the better will go a long way in supporting future adoption in Missouri.

If you need pregnancy help or are looking to adopt, contact us right away. You can search “adoption agencies near me” and connect with our adoption agencies in Missouri. Our goal is to help birth mothers in need and to connect them with a loving adoptive family. We’ll work together to create a happy life for everyone involved.