Given Up vs. Placed for Adoption
Does the term “given up for adoption” rub you the wrong way?

The world of adoption is a minefield of correct language (birth mother vs. natural mother; child of your own vs. bio child, special needs adoption vs. adopting a child with special needs, etc.), but no other phrase will elicit gasps any quicker than saying that a birth parent “gave up” a child for adoption. The preferred term is “made an adoption plan” or “relinquished/surrendered her parental rights”.

Given my careful avoidance of the phrase “given up” both in words and even how I think, I was surprised when I saw the following post in the Creating a Family Facebook Support Group by as adult adoptee.

Adoptees are told ad nauseam from day one that adoption is a gift, that we are gifts. Why then do people have such a negative reaction to the term “Given Up”? Gifts are given and unless we were removed, sold or kidnapped she “gave“. Relinquished, put up for, placed, given up, surrendered, sacrificed, given away, given out, handed out, donated, entrusted, offered up, made an adoption plan or paying it forward. In the end they all mean the same, no amount PC adoption language can ever change that. No need to fluff it up…. God gifted me to my mother’s womb it was her choice to re-gift me.

Not a Haphazard Decision

I think “given up” was phased out because it doesn’t do justice to the decision making process most first moms go through when wrestling with whether they are in a place to be the best mother to their child. I suppose “giving up” sounds too trivial for this degree of anguish.

“To make an adoption plan” emphasizes the thought process in the decision making. Weighing the pros and cons of who can best parent this child is better summed up with the verb “plan” rather than “give”.

Over-focused on Political Correctness?

As most of you know, I hate the hyper-focus on choosing the right words and worrying about the fragility of our kids and the institution of adoption; however, I cringe when I hear someone refer to adoption as being given up, even if the speaker is an adopted person who by all rights can say and feel anyway she wants. I can’t help but feel that no human deserves to feel like they were gifted or given up, but maybe I’m being overly sensitive.

What do you think? I’d especially like to hear what adoptees and birth mothers think.


Image credit: Steven Depolo