Why You Shouldn’t Say ‘Give Up’ for Adoption

Most people don’t know much about adoption. They don’t know how the process works, or why prospective birth parents choose adoption, or how adoptive parents complete a placement. But, if they do know one thing, it’s that women “give their babies up” for adoption.

This is, arguably, the most common phrase known about adoption in our common cultural language. And that’s unfortunate, because “give baby up” for adoption is tied to a harmful misconception about this journey.

“Does this really matter?” you may be wondering.

It does. Our hope for this guide to adoption-positive language is to convince you of why you shouldn’t say “give up” for adoption and equip you with some alternative phrases for “give up” for adoption. You can use these different ways of saying “give a baby up” for adoption yourself, as well as teach them to your family and friends.

Why You Shouldn’t Say ‘Give Up’ for Adoption

Although it’s a common phrase with no mal-intent, “give up” carries negative and false connotations that are not true of adoption.

The idea of “giving a baby up” goes back to the early years of adoption history in America. During these times, adoption was a shameful and secretive act. This era of adoption is often depicted in movies and TV shows when a birth parent leaves their child at a fire station or wrapped in a blanket on the front porch of an orphanage. In these stories, the birth parent does seem to “give up” and is rarely seen again.

That’s not actually how adoption works today. Prospective birth parents are active participants in the adoption process. In fact, the prospective birth parent is basically in charge of it.

Far from dropping the baby off and “giving up,” a prospective birth parent proactively engages in a challenging process because they have a deep sense of love for their child and want what is best for their life. Does that sound like “giving up” to you?

Although most people don’t mean to cause harm, saying that a birth parent “gives up” when they choose adoption carries a sense of shame and failure. But, adoption is neither shameful nor a failure. It is a brave, courageous act taken by prospective birth parents on behalf of a child whom they love.

That’s why you shouldn’t say “give up” for adoption. Now, let’s look at some other phrases you can use, instead.

Other Ways to Say ‘Give Up’ for Adoption

Are there different ways of saying “give a baby up” for adoption? Yes, there are.

These are a few of the other words for “giving up” for adoption, along with a short explanation for why each phrase is considered to be adoption-positive language:

“Place for adoption” is a different way of saying “give a baby up” for adoption.

Why it’s better: Placement is the technical term for the final (and arguably most important) step of the process, when the child is transferred from the care of the birth parents into the arms of the adoptive parents. Placement is not only an emotional and personal moment, but also an important legal step, because this is when the prospective birth parents sign their official consent to the adoption.

“Choose adoption” is an alternative phrase for “give up” for adoption.

Why it’s better: Prospective birth parents are not forced into adoption. It is a choice — a brave and loving decision made in order to do what is best for both the parent and the baby. These other words for “giving up” for adoption honor the authority and autonomy of prospective birth parents who choose adoption for their babies.

“Create an adoption plan” is one of the other ways to say “give up” for adoption.

Why it’s better: Once a prospective birth parent contacts an adoption agency, the next step is to make an adoption plan. This plan is the roadmap for the adoption process, and it puts the prospective birth parent in charge. This other way of saying “give up” for adoption puts a strong emphasis on the prospective birth parent’s authority in the process and honors the amount of proactive work it takes to place a child for adoption.

These are a few great examples of adoption-positive language that you can begin to use as alternative phrases for “give up” for adoption.

Why Correct Terminology for ‘Give Baby Up’ for Adoption Matters

Words have weight. The things we say have the power to lift up and tear down. This may be obvious with more overt criticism or other harsh language, but it’s also true for the subtle aspects of common phrases like “give up” for adoption.

We believe that choosing adoption for your baby is a brave, loving, good thing to do. The way we speak should reflect that. By not using “give up” language, we can continue to slowly chip away at any lingering negative connotations to choosing adoption as a prospective birth parent.

Learn More

Are you a prospective birth parent considering adoption for your baby? Reading guides online can be helpful, but sometimes it is best to speak with a professional. You can contact us online at any time to be connected with a helpful adoption agency. This connection is always free, and it never obligates you to choose adoption.

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