A recent gaffe by a TV Commentator at the Olympics highlights the importance of adoption language and terminology.
Just last week Friday, Adoption STAR staff offered an adoption seminar to 50+ masters level students at a Western New York-based college. As a part of the seminar, staff spent time discussing the importance of accurate, neutral language choices when talking about adoption. We educated the students in attendance on how certain antiquated, adoption-related terms have the effect of closing doors to conversation (rather than opening them), and can also be perceived as judgmental, insensitive, and just flat out inaccurate. Long story short – the words you use in talking about adoption MATTER – and using inappropriate terminology can have damaging effects for adoptive parents, biological parents, and most importantly, adoptees.
Interestingly, a real life example of this just came to light! Al Trautwig, an NBC Olympic Gymnastics Commentator, has gotten some not-so-positive attention for comments he made about USA Gymnastics Star (and adoptee) Simone Biles’ parents.
To read more about the controversy, please click on the following link:
Unfortunately, Trautwig’s comments seem to convey the idea that Biles’ adoptive parents are somehow “less legitimate” than her biological parents, a comment that Biles herself would probably bristle at! This is an obvious opportunity for everyone at NBC to study up on accurate, neutral adoption language…and when in doubt, approach the person you’re looking to speak about (whether it’s an adoptive parent, a biological parent, or an adoptee) and ask THEM what their preferred terminology is. If Trautwig or someone from NBC had taken the time to do this, the controversy might never have happened in the first place.