Someone posted this on the Facebook Adoption News and Events page: 10 Keys to Using Positive Adoption Language The original positive adoption language spiel was bad enough, but Rachel Wallace Reid, Certified Montessori Teacher and Parent Educator, author of this piece of drivel, has raised the ante to a whole new level of prissy absurdity. Perhaps she read too much Ionesco in college.
Rule Key #1:
The adoptive parents are the “real” parents. The real parents are the grown-ups who will take care of the child every day and for the rest of their lives. When referring to who gave birth to the child, simply say birth parents or birth woman. A biological father is not referred to as the real father, but the biological one.
Birth woman? It makes me think of Big Foot in a dress dropping babyees in the woods I am birth woman, hear me roar!
And biological father?. Why not Birth Man? We wager that the Birth Man population is greatly undercounted, and if a proper census were taken, would far outweigh that of Birth Woman who just happens to be a handy recipient of Birth Man’s love. It only takes him a few seconds to accomplish his task; it takes her nine months not counting the aftershocks.
Boy Howdy though! I’m really attracted to the idea that “real parents” take care of their children for the “rest of their lives.” If you’re not getting support, sue!
Rule Key #4:
Adoption is an event that happened in a child’s life when the child joined his or her family. Using positive adoption language, notice use of verb tense. The child “was” adopted that the event is past tense and already happened. To say that a child “is” adopted implies the process is still ongoing. This is not true. We would simply say, “George was adopted.”
That is,.unless your birth certificate is sealed and you have to grovel before a judge to get it–or worse, grovel before an entire state legislature full of (depending on their excuse d’jour) right-to-lifers and phony civil libertarians to get what’s yours. They’ve got theirs.
That is, unless you can’t get a driver’s licence, Social Security check or passport because your chain of identity is broken by a fictional state- forged birth certificate that some bureaucrat red flags..
That is, unless you were adopted in Columbia and you get picked up by ICE and are deported because your forever parents didn’t get around to making you a US citizen.
That is, unless your aparents die and your’re listed in the obit as their “adopted daughter Ginny and adopted son, Jerome.”
Then it’s Ground Hog Day.
Rule Key # 8:
Using positive adoption language, we would never refer to a child as “adopted” just as we would never say an IVF baby, a failed contraception baby, or a c-section baby.
I’m always hesitant to ascribe bad motives to the positive adoption language folks. I know some of them, and they are pleasant earnest people who mean well. I’m sure Ms Wallace Reid means well. But positive adoption language is like putting that dress on Bigfoot. These are the same people who get upset over Anne of Green Gables.
The truth is that adopted people are different and will always be different. In 44, (soon to be 43) states we can’t even get our own birth certificates.That’s something to be really upset about; not whether we “is” or “was” adopted. Let’s face it. Adoption is not a normal way to make a family. If it were, adoption wouldn’t be masked by family and state-created lies and dependent on big money transfers.
Positive adoption language is created to obscure the truth about adoption and its politics; thus, negating the adoption experience for the bastard and his parents, and more importantly, for the PC languager herself. Conversely, and perhaps subconsciously, it allows the language diddler to deflect the narrative to herself and enable her to create a new one, more fit for her emotional and maternal needs. (I say “her” because men usually have more important things to diddle at)
Positive language hides the genuine life-long adoption/adoptee process, terming it a “one-time experience.” Positive Language hides the players with awkward phrases. Birth Woman (which. I can’t imagine anyone but Ms Wallace Reid using), strips bastards and their mothers of dignity and humanity.Biological father,” a PC phrase for the preferred Sperm Donor, ignores the fact that, despite my earlier comments, many men have been driven out of the picture by predatory adoption agents and lawyers, and to be honest, by some women and their families who want to hide children from fathers for whatever reason.
Positive Languigers are at heart anti-adoption, not the type of anti-adoption harbored by women who have been exploited and screwed over, by the adoption industry but by women (and it’s usually women) who have benefited from that same industry. Positive language enables them hide their personal doubts about their status of adoptive parent. . They are trying to neatly cover up adoption, hoping to turn it into Ms. Wallace Reid’s irrelevant c-section. A sort of blank slate for adopters.
Of course, language is important, but it must convey truth. or at least attempt to. Denying that adoption is nothing more than a trivial one-time event as well as the other
rules keys to positive adoption language posited by Ms Wallace Reid and other language wonks are an insult to those of us who live adoption. Has Ms Wallace Reid even spoken to an adult bastard?
” … The child “was” adopted that the event is past tense and already happened. To say that a child “is” adopted implies the process is still ongoing.”
This statement of the PAL-addicts shows the magnitude of their delusion to try to pretend that a child is not adopted. They revel in trying their best to make adoption into another form of childbirth — shall we call it “birth-envy”? I would.
And yes, it is VERY valid to say that someone adopted as a child “IS” adopted after that point — UNLESS they have terminated their adoption (e.g. as several adoptees in Alberta and one in Florida have) or have been adopted-back (hence eliminating the original adoption). Then, you can say that “Sally WAS adopted” because Sally is no longer adopted!
You are right, they are “anti-adoption” in they want to do everything possible to erase the fact of adoption out of “their” lives.
birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!birth woman!
new swear word, just breaking it in.
I read recently where a good adoptee spoke of his/her surrendering mother, as…Birth Agent! It gets better and better.
reproductive slavery, child trafficking. those are the terms i think in and speak of. growing up in foster care and group homes, i met many kids who were tossed back into the system by their adopters.. your only ‘theirs’ until they dont want to deal with you anymore, than all of sudden you have problems that mustve came from your birth family! how easily they can change their tune..
How come the guy that gave my son half his DNA gets to be a biological father but I am only a birth woman? Seriously, Ms. Reid needs to get a grip. If she is that threatened by the use of the term mother she doesn’t deserve the title herself. I feel sorry for her kids.
From Valerie…Birth woman…is this anything like Superwoman or Spiderwoman…? Let’s get a superhero costume and emblem and all wear it to their next party….
what a fear centred load of crap -one actually has to feel sorry for such an insecure, frightened, delusional person..Yes, natural mother means anyone else is unnatural, just like white means everything else is black…not…
Holy cow, is that for real?
Birth woman? Really? I AM BIRTH WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR!
I am birth woman! Hear me roar too!
BRAVO, Marley. You did a marvelous job discussing PAL, a favorite topic of mine. I need say no more, but can’t resist. Before we had PAL, a female analyist apparently uncomfortable with the label “mother” referred to a birthmother as “the women in whose body you grew.” I suspected she was an ap. Researching the matter is on my todo list.
“Birth woman”? I guess the woman who has adopted is a “Can’t-birth woman.”
Or .. how about a “Bought-the-Baby” woman?
Or … a “Purchase woman”? (Pay money for a child, what else is it? Let’s be clear here – adoption agencies are licensed to sell children).
As I’ve always said, if you play “The Opposites Game” and tell natural mothers they they are forbidden to use that term because it somehow makes the adopter “unnatural,” then the word “birthmother” must mean they are “deathmothers.”
POSITIVE ADOPTION LANGUAGE MAKES BIRTH WOMAN GAG! is what I want on my tombstone. For this birth woman’s take on language, take a gander at:
Birth Mother? First Mother? Both names are belittling
“Certified Montessori Teacher “
Certifiably stupid is more like.
Absolutely, Lorraine! Both are totally belittling. Both of them disqualify a woman from recognition as a mother, of having ensuring motherhood past the surrender of her child. If a woman’s child died at birth, she would still be considered a mother. So why is this title stripped from her by adoption? Oh yeah, because it was given/promised/sold to someone else. Sorry, that doesn’t wash.
For a long time, natural mothers had no idea what the term ‘birth mother’ really meant. Because we had not yet researched the industry the way it had researched us. We trusted the adoption social workers who helped mentor the first “triad support groups.” We never questioned the industry until it became more aggressive. We never questioned what they meant with their terminology, or how they use it as a way to separate mother from child. And there was of course the unquestioned assumption that we had “invented it ourselves.”
But very recent research by natural mothers themselves has uncovered what wasn’t know before — the evolution of this word in the industry’s hands. And as of just recently, anyone can now see evidence of this history in a downloadable PDF (6 meg) file.
The Development of “Birth Terms” to Refer to the Natural Mothers of Adoptees (1955 to 1979) .
This is very new. Not everyone is going to know it. And it challenges some “cultural myths” in the adoption reform movement. this research is also still ongoing. There are still gaps to fill in, and it is not perfect, and if anyone is interested in helping with this research, they are heartily invited to participate.
I’ve been reading some of the things on your blog. Something I strongly agree with and others not so much. On this topic, I would just like to share a bit of my personal story.
I was adopted from Russia when I was the. I lived at the orphanage for three years. Where…I had been abused repeatedly.
Before my placement into the orphanage…I lived with my “Birth Mother” (Irina). She was a very angry and violent alcoholic.
When I was adopted my parent started to use the terms “biological mother, birth mother, etc.”. Because of my memories of the woman were not good…I would refer to her as the monster. My parents quickly taught me to appreciate where I come from. They made me understand that Irina had a huge part in my life (a very important part in all our lives). Every year we would recognize her on her birthday (even though she passed away when i was seven.)
The positive language did help me come to terms with certain things from my past. I love my parents for helping me understand.
There are huge glitches in adoption as there are in any thing that has to do with a family structure.
I’m adopted by a loving family that do their best everyday to help me understand where I come from. They are my “real” family. All the other family members I had up to age seven…left me on the streets of Russia to fend for myself and my younger sister. All I ask is that you shine some positivity towards those of us that have made adoption work. Those of us that don’t think of it everyday…those of us that feel we belong in our family. _Sasha
Not this old crap again!! I’m 67 and have been adopted for 67 years and two months give or take a few days.I’m a bastard and I had a mother who gave birth to me.Get over it!!
Here’s a poem I wrote on the term “as if born to” used in the recent past in Canada to try to change the reality of adoption, legally. We all know the truth but the myth is still out there causing damage.
As if born to.
As if he was always their’s.
As if he arrived, out of nowhere, carried on the wind like a dandelion seed.
As if he hadn’t nestled first in my expanding womb.
As if I hadn’t felt the kicking of his tiny legs.
As if I didn’t push him out into this world in pain and love.
As if he didn’t cry endlessly, waiting for the breast that never comforted.
As if I didn’t toss and turn in anguish every night for months.
As if there was no beginning, only their happy ending.
Linda Volk (birth woman)
What Wallace Reid said is “Words are very powerful. Positive adoption language aims to end the negative stereotypes and misconceptions regarding adoption, while educating others that all families look different and form in different ways. Here are some keys to positive adoption language.” If adoptees, “birth women” and “sperm donors,” as you say, want to perpetuate those negative stereotypes, please seek help.
I wonder why you put “rules” when the author has keys? You incorrectly quoted her.
You also left out key #10: “Adoption is a private matter between a child and his or her family. All families form in different ways and are all equally beautiful. For families that choose to form through adoption, the decision to create a forever family where everyone is loved and belongs should be respected and supported.”
It would seem to me that Wallace Reid is trying to create a dialogue for peace and respect. What terms or vocabulary would you prefer to be used? Let’s begin a conversation where everyone feels heard, understood, and respected.