Expert Commentary...Adoption Etiquette

The response I received from the article that I wrote about people with special needs was so rewarding to me. I would like to thank everyone who took the time to send e-mail's, cards and letters to me. With a response like this, it tells me that unfortunately, there is little information available to the general public about being sensitive to others needs, but most important, there is a thirst for people wanting to know and do the right thing.

A close friend of mine, Lois Hausner, contacted me after she read this article. She explained the need for a similar article about adoption. Lois and her husband Jeff have had the privilege of adopting a gorgeous boy named Addison from Guatemala.

With her help, we have come up with some helpful information that everyone should know about adoption. Increasingly, families are adopting children with a different race or ethnicity from their own. In the adoption community, these families are called, "Conspicuous Families" and they celebrate their diversity.

Positive Adoptive Language (PAL) is vocabulary relating to adoption which reflects maximum respect, and objectivity about the decisions made by birth parents as well as the adoptive parents. The first rule in PAL is to not ask, "Is this your real child?". As opposed to being your fake child?

Of course he is a real child, he is living and breathing just like you and me. You wouldn't ask, "Is he adopted?" or explain, "He is adopted." Adoption is not a disabling condition and it does not color all facets of ones' life. Rephrase this to, "Did you adopt your child?" and "He was adopted." Refer the way in which he arrived in his family in the past tense.

Something very tempting to do is ask how much an adoption costs or if it is expensive. Children are priceless adopted or not. If you are truly interested in the adoption process, you can ask for their adoption agent's name and phone number who will be more than happy to supply you with further information.

Further, don't ever ask, "Could you not have children of your own?" Adopted children are the adoptive parents own. Besides the fact that that is a very personal question that is no one else's business. When speaking of the child's birthparents refer to them as that, or as the first parents, never real or natural parents.

Don't ask questions about the birthparents in front of the child unless you are certain that the adoptive parents are open to that. The birthparents role should always be in the past. The should be spoken of sympathetically, as adopted children need to feel pride in their origins. They need to feel that their birth parents would certainly have kept them of they could have and that they made a very loving plan for them to be with their adoptive families forever.

The words that we choose say a lot about what we think and value. It is important to use Positive Adoption Language in order to convey your interest and support, while at the same time respecting the integrity of the child and his or her family. For more information about this subject you can visit