Adoption Language

The way we talk—and the words we choose—say a lot about what we think and value. When we use positive adoption language, we say that adoption is a way to build a family just as birth is.

Choose the following, positive adoption language instead of the negative talk that helps perpetuate the myth that adoption is second best. By using positive adoption language, you will reflect the true nature of adoption, free of innuendo.



Biological Parent

Birth Child

My Child

Born to Unmarried Parents

Relinquish Parental Rights

Make an Adoption Plan

To Parent

Making Contact with


International Adoption

Permission to Sign a Release Search

Child Placed for Adoption

Court Termination

Child with Special Needs

Child from Abroad


Real Parent

Natural Parent

Own Child

Adopted Child; Own Child; Real Child


Give Up; Give Away

To Keep


Adoptive Parent

Foreign Adoption


Track Down Parents

Child Given Up

Child Taken Away

Handicapped Child

Foreign Child

Adoption Terms and Meanings

Alleged Father: This term refers to the man that a woman names as the father of her child, when she is not married to the man.

Biological Father: This term refers to a man that has legal status as the child’s natural father, whether he is married to the woman or not.

Birth Family: Any person that is a member of the child’s biological extended family (including aunts and uncles, grandparents, etc.).

Birth Father: The child’s biological father. This term is used once relinquishment has been signed.

Birth Mother: The child’s biological mother. This term is used once relinquishment has been signed.

Birth Sibling: The adoptee’s biological sibling from either birthparent.

Chosen: Term used once an expectant mother selects a family to make an adoption plan for the child.

Entitlement: The feeling of worthiness to be the child’s parents.  It is developing a sense that the child belongs in the family even though he/she was not born into the family.

Entrustment Ceremony: This time will serve as a ritual in which the birthmother “entrusts” the life of her child to the adoptive family.  It is often a personal time for the birthmother and adoptive family to visit with one another.

Expectant Mother: The child’s biological mother. She is a mother. She has not made an adoption plan at this time or signed relinquishment.

Finalization: The adoption is consummated at this time and the adoptive parents become the legal parents of the child in front of a judge.  This may occur after the satisfactory completion of the six month post placement supervision period.

Hopeful Adoptive Parents: This term refers to a couple that has matched with an  expectant mother.

Legal Father: This term refers to a man that is married to the expectant mother. He may or may not be the child’s biological father.

Match Meeting: A time where an expectant mother meets with a waiting family that she may be interested in learning more about.

Paternity Registry: In the State of Texas, The Bureau of Vital Statistics provides an opportunity to protect the rights of fathers who believe they may have parented a child. The law states that it is a man’s responsibility to know that a pregnancy could occur from a sexual encounter and to “register” his information if he wishes to preserve his rights as a parent. The form must be filed before or within 30 days of child’s date of birth.

Post Adoption Services: This term refers to services provided by the agency when further assistance is needed following the adoption of a child, i.e. updating an address/phone number, sending correspondence to a birthparent, attaining information from the original file, searches, etc. In the case of AdoptionWorks, this also refers to the clinical services we offer. Such as support groups and counseling.

Post Placement Supervision: The six-month period, following placement, in which the agency remains the managing conservator of the child and must have monthly contact with the family to supervise the child’s growth, development and integration into the family.

Service of Citation: A legal procedure in which a biological father is personally served with citation.  This may occur when a biological father has not responded after having been located and contacted regarding his alleged paternity.  If the father does not respond by timely filing an admission of paternity or a counterclaim for paternity his rights may then be terminated.

Termination of Parental Rights: If the court finds by clear and convincing evidence grounds for termination of the parent-child relationship, it shall render an order terminating the parent-child relationship which divests the parent and the child of all legal rights and duties with respect to each other.


If you’re considering making an adoption placement for your child, call or text us directly at 214-952-7421.