The Right Words Can Change Everything
As a society we are starting to realize just how impactful words can be. The words and phrases we used 20 years ago could now send unintended hurtful messages. By choosing positive adoption language we can remove the stigma that once surrounded unplanned pregnancy and adoption and show our support to everyone involved.
Instead of Saying…
Give up/give away
She isn’t keeping her child
They can give child a better life
Putting a child up for adoption
He is lucky to have you as parents
She is much better off with you
I couldn’t give my baby away
You are stronger than me
Place a child for adoption
She isn’t ready to parent
Child placed for adoption
They are ready to parent
Creating an adoption plan
I can see how much you love him
I’m happy for you and your family
I respect your decision
I’m here if you need support
If you are a birth mother, people may have said things about your decision that may have been offensive. If your family and friends are using language that feels disrespectful and demeaning to your choices, it may be time to set some boundaries.
What are Boundaries?
Think of boundaries as a roadmap to a healthy, long-lasting relationship. Without them, your friendships can become stressed, fractured, or broken. To avoid the pain of losing a friend or becoming estranged from someone you love, you need to set clear, direct boundaries that help you feel safe and supported.
How to Set Boundaries
Boundaries is a bit of a buzzword right now. That’s because people are choosing to manage their relationships and mental health in constructive ways. But just because you understand WHY boundaries are important, it doesn’t make them any easier to set.
1- Ask for help. Talk to your adoption specialist, a counselor, or another trusted person. They can work with you to identify the boundaries that will help your relationships succeed.
2- Tell your friend the relationship is important to you. Afterall, boundaries aren’t about hurting someone’s feelings. If you take the time to tell them what they mean to you before you discuss boundaries, your conversation will feel less confrontational.
3- Talk to them. Explain why you are setting boundaries. Telling a friend what’s bothering you is actually showing them trust and respect. You trust and respect them enough to care about how you feel. Make sure to pick a time when things are happy. Difficult conversations are even more challenging in the heat of the moment when tempers are flared.
4- Be Direct. Being vague doesn’t help anyone. Rather than, “I wish you’d use different language when you talk about my adoption plan”, you could say, “When you tell me how strong I am to give my baby up for adoption it really hurts. I’ve taken a lot of time to make this decision and I’m proud of what I’m doing. But I don’t feel like I’m giving my baby away. I’m choosing adoption for my baby because it’s the right decision for both of us.” Instead of, “do you really think adoptive parents can give my baby a better life?”, try “I know I’m not ready to parent but that doesn’t mean my baby is better off without me. It just means I’ve found someone who is ready to parent.”
5- Know your limits. Compromise but only if you are comfortable with it. Be an example of the positive language you expect and gently correct them when they fall back into old habits. With some practice on both sides, you can change how your loved ones talk to you about your decision to adopt. How empowering is that?!