Thursday, March 12, 2009

Respectful Adoption Language

When I came to this world exactly two years ago, I was in total shock. I had not planned on being a part of this community AT ALL (and I mean motherhood, not just adoption). It was so new to me and so utterly frightening. I was very very angry, too, that this little baby whom I was being asked to "take" had been so horribly abused by her mother.

So, I landed here using terms like "BM" and "my child" and so on. I hadn't done any research before this - literally hadn't had any time to buy a crib, much less research the language of it all - so I had NO IDEA about the ins-and-outs of appropriate language.

But, here's the deal. Language DOES matter. It has mattered to me because, in thinking about my motivations for using certain terms and phrases, I have had to come to terms with some of the less wonderful feelings that I've had about this whole process. I've had to really intensely examine how I feel about VeeGee's first mother, and about all the relationships that flow out of this situation. It's not just about PC-ness, though I do think there can be and is a very very helpful "fake it till you make it" component to disciplining yourself to use respectful language.

It's been a slow slow process for me. And I'm still learning. But now, as I'm trying to figure out how best to both instill a strong sense of self-confidence in my daughter, while telling her the truth about her birth and life before she came to us, I'm realizing even more how important language is. (And that's really funny coming from me, the English professor and writer )

I think the thing that makes it difficult is that we're not talking about how to change a tire here. We're truly talking about life and death issues (in the cases of those of us who have not been able to become bio parents ourselves as well as the biological mothers and adoptive children who have lost their first relationships). We bring all of our raw nerves, grief and heartbreak, disappointment and, yes, prejudices. There's no getting around that. Too, we are entering into a particular situation that isn't "the best" for everyone involved. There is always always loss, and that includes loss for adoptive parents, as well as the other members of the triad.

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