In the spirit of National Adoption Month, there is something we can all do to support adoption – use proper terminology when speaking about adoptive families. Words and phrases are impactful.
My five-year-old daughter recently informed me that her older friend said that I am not her ‘real’ mom.
If this ill-informed friend had said something such as, “your mom is not your birth-mother,” my daughter would have responded with, “Oh I know; my birth-mother lives in South Korea, where I was born. We pray for her and honor her in many ways.” But since the label ‘real mother’ was used, my daughter was naturally frightened and confused by the statement.
Children are very literal in their comprehension of words and concepts. By referring to an adoptive parent as anything less than real, the notion of fake or artificial comes to mind. There is absolutely nothing artificial about families built by adoption. When drifting off to sleep during one of my nightly bedtime stories, the warm feelings of comfort and security my daughter relishes are real. When I watch my nine-year-old son score a basket during a league game, our mutual sense of pride is very genuine.
Parenting is filled with daily joys and challenges. The many sacrifices all good parents make for their children are indeed real. We nurture our kids and face our responsibilities with a grateful heart. To ‘parent’ is a verb phrase, as is ‘love.’ Procreation is a nine-month experience; parenting a child is a life-long journey – both begin with love.
Please choose words carefully. I am a mom, and I couldn’t be more real.