"I have faith."
"I love you."
"To serve and protect."
Those are just some famous words that mean something to all of us but in reality the little words that float around every day (and they way in which they are said) are much more important than those biggies. I have never really seen the point in sugar coating things. A lot of people might call me blunt. However, I am not tactless. It is important to say truthful things gently but to say them all the same.
I feel like a lot of adoption lingo is designed to sugar coat obvious truths (and lies). What's wrong with being blunt? Remember, I am not talking about being tactless and hurtful. I'm just talking about plain language. I also think it's important to keep age appropriate language in mind. I might have a certain honest discussion with my teenager at a very different vocabulary level than when she was two. I'm certainly not proposing we tell a 4-year-old they're the product of rape. However, I grow increasingly concerned that giving our kids a song and dance full of empty adoption-ese jargon that has no meaning outside of our carefully constructed mini-society isn't going to help them understand their losses any better.
A survey was done some years ago in which they passed out a vocabulary test to elementary age children from fundamentalist, Christian homes. All the kids had to do was define the terms on the paper. The terms were the everyday jargon used at their church and in their homes. Vocabulary like: "Born again" "Washed in the blood" "The Salvation of the Lamb" "The Mercy Seat of God". Only the oldest children (6th graders) scored higher than 30% correct. But after the written test there was an oral exam and when the children were asked to put the phrase in a sentence almost all of them could use the vocabulary correctly. That is a classic example of speaking to children through the vocabulary of a sub-culture that the parent has chosen. Much like a child repeating a dirty word, kids can parrot their adults all day long but it doesn't indicate they understand what it means.
So the next time we're tempted to explain our children's questions away by bantering around an adoptshop slogan such as: "real mom," "Forever families," "Grown in my heart not under it," "Tummy mummy," "gotcha day is my favorite holiday," "adoption is another word for love," and my own personal horror "chosen not adopted". Lets ask ourselves, "Do my kids have any idea how to define these ideas on a short-answer test?" If they can't then maybe we need to use some plain language. It may not look as good on a bumper sticker but it might just clear some stuff up.