Adoption language: “parent” vs. “adoptive parent”

Adoption wordsOver at the Adoption Guide’s Advice page, I came across a document labeled “Accurate Adoption Language,” which links to a PDF entitled “Positive Adoption Language.” The fact sheet (reprinted from OURS Magazine, May/June 1992), has a fairly complete listing of preferred language (which it calls “positive”) and dispreferred language (called “negative”) for talking about adoption.

In general, I like the idea of using “positive adoption language.” (Frankly, calling it “accurate adoption language” strikes me as a little pompous and even disingenuous. It suggests that the “truth” about adoption is always positive and never negative. But that’s a topic for another post.) In spite of my general inclination to use positive language about adoption, some of the positive-negative pairs strike me as odd. One is the “parent” vs. “adoptive parent” contrast. Continue reading

But are they REALLY brothers?

In the video post that Dan just put up, theologian and adoptive dad Russell Moore relates some theological insights from the questions he was asked when he and his wife adopted from Russia. I’ve transcribed (quickly and roughly) a portion below, but I encourage you to watch the entire 3-minute video.

[When my wife and I began the process of adopting,] I found myself answering questions that really irritated me deeply. We had gone on our first trip to Russia and returned back and we had pictures, and we were showing people pictures of our boys.

The question we consistently were asked — it was two boys — was, “Well, are they brothers?” and my response was, “Well yes, they are now.”

And people who asked the question would say, “Yeah, but are they really brothers?”
Continue reading

Some thoughts on PC adoption language

This morning I read a short post over at Riley Dad’s Weblog which reminded me that I’ve been meaning to post about adoption language issues.

One of the first things that struck me when I started working at Carolina Hope in 2005 was the lingo. I was told there were certain things I wasn’t allowed to say (e.g., “real mother,” “children of their own” — and many other similar expressions!). Some of the language choices were intuitive, but others struck me as a bit over-reaching. PC, if you will.

My assumption about our blog’s audience is that most (but by no means all) of you are politically conservative. And if your experience in the conservative movement has been anything like mine, you’ve been taught that Politically Correct Language is a hallmark of sloppy liberal thinking which disguises the truth about people, institutions, and relationships. Conservatives, on the other hand, say what they mean, and use logically rigorous language. Right? I mean, come on! “Indian” was good enough for them a century ago. Why should I waste syllables saying “Native American” or (horror of horrors), actually care enough about a person to find out what tribe they’re a part of then refer to them as Cheyenne or Cherokee or Choctaw?

Well there, I’ve tipped my hand. You see, there are at least two good reasons for language we often dismiss as PC. Continue reading

Rude adoption questions and the gospel

QuestionsDr. Russell Moore, Dean of the School of Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote an excellent article about how rude adoption questions taught him about the gospel. It was published in the May 2007 edition of Touchstone:The Brotherhood of Sons: What Some Rude Questions About Adoption Taught Me About the Gospel of Christ.

The Moores have four children, two of which were adoptedĀ from Russia.

(HT: Justin Taylor)

Israel, God’s son through adoption

IsraelKidsAn important biblical theme often overlooked by Christians is the sonship of Israel. When we hear the expression, son of God, we think of Jesus (as we should), but we forget that the first son of God mentioned in Scripture is the nation of Israel.

Through the correspondence of two of Israel’s privileges listed in Romans 9:4 (“They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, and the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises.”), we learn that God adopted Israel as His son at Mt. Sinai when He gave Israel the law. Israel officially became God’s son through adoption when He constituted Israel a nation at Mt. Sinai.

It was common for ancient Near Eastern nations to boast of having a father-son relationship with their gods. Most ancient religions believed that the gods bore their sons through consorts. These nations considered themselves to be the “natural” born sons of their particular god(s). This was the religious and cultural context in which Israel entered into a Father-son relationship with God. The difference was that Israel entered into this relationship through adoption. Romans 9:4 makes that clear.

Although Israel was not a “natural” son of God, they were not to demean their adoptive sonship or consider it a second-class sonship in any way whatsoever. Rather, Israel was to cherish and value its adoptive sonship. They were not to look at the sonship status of the other nations and think of theirs as somehow inferior because they were adopted. In other words, Israel’s adoptive sonship was not to be viewed negatively at all, even though there would have been pressure from the surrounding nations to do so.

Given the religious and cultural context of the ancient Near Eastern world and Continue reading