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Why You Shouldn’t Say “Give Up for Adoption”

Despite the fact that it perpetuates inaccuracies about the adoption process and is a harmful phrase for all members of the adoption triad, the phrase “giving a baby up” continues to be used time and time again in adoption circles. While adoption professionals and informational resources like Considering Adoption always work toward educating people about the proper terms for adoption, “giving a baby up” occupies a space in the adoption conversation that’s hard to replace.

So, if everyone keeps using this term, why do professionals continue to push for alternative phrases for “give up for adoption?” Shouldn’t the use of the vernacular be the best way to reach those interested in the adoption process? Why is ‘give up for adoption’ bad, especially when so much of the information found online uses those terms?

It’s a complicated issue to discuss. Let’s dive a little deeper into this important concept.

Why Websites Use “Give Up for Adoption”

The majority of adoption professionals advocate for different ways of saying “give baby up for adoption.” After all, this phrasing implies that a woman’s choice to place her baby for adoption is a selfish one, not one made after much consideration for her child’s best interest. It makes the choice of adoption seem easy and almost flippant, and it creates a negative connotation for the women who have chosen this path. To “give up” implies that an expectant mother made the wrong choice in choosing adoption, although this is very often the best choice for a woman’s particular situation.

While almost everyone with an experience in the adoption world will advocate for other words for “giving up for adoption,” you’ll still see this phrase in many adoption websites — including our own.

So, why is that?

Many of the pregnant women who are considering adoption for the first time have no prior knowledge of the adoption process. The only information they may have is what they have gleaned from pop culture, an area in which the phrase “give up for adoption” is especially common. Therefore, when they search online for information related to placing their child for adoption, they use the phrase “give up” — often not knowing there are different ways of saying “give baby up for adoption.”

In order to help these women receive the unplanned pregnancy and adoption counseling they need, adoption professionals and websites use these terms in their online resources. This way, a prospective birth mother can better identify the information helpful for her at this stage in her pregnancy. In many of these articles, these adoption professionals will then go on to explain why you shouldn’t say “give up for adoption” and why you should instead focus on the positives of giving a child the best life possible with adoptive parents.

Therefore, if you ever see this term on our website, know that it is not a term that should be used lightly in conversation. We truly believe there are better alternative phrases for “give up for adoption,” and we take every opportunity we can to educate about those better choices and bring a more positive outlook to discussions about the adoption process.

So, What is Another Way to Say “Give Up for Adoption?”

We’re glad you asked! There are plenty of different phrases that can be used instead of “give up for adoption” — phrases that better encompass the caring, loving and selfless decision many expectant mothers make to give their children the best lives possible.

Some different ways of saying “give baby up for adoption” include:

  • Place a baby for adoption
  • Put a baby up for adoption
  • Choose adoption for a baby
  • Make an adoption plan

While we’re on the subject of other ways to say “give up for adoption,” we’ll also reiterate the importance of using positive adoption language in all your discussions of this family-building process. Here are some adoption-negative phrases we commonly hear — and what should be said instead:

  • “Keep” a baby — “Parent” a baby
  • “Real” parent — “Biological” or “birth” parent
  • “Adopted” child — Child
  • “Surrender” or “abandon” a baby — “Place” a baby or “Terminate parental rights”
  • “Adoptive” parent — Parent

Adoption is a family-building process that affects a growing number of Americans, which is why using correct terminology for “give baby up for adoption” (and other adoption phrases) is so important. We encourage you to share this post to help spread the word about the correct ways to talk about this sensitive topic and help create a more positive view of adoption for others in the world.