What to call the players in adoption is a minefield. What works for me will not work for everyone, and that’s fine. But here, I explain what I call the people in my life. THIS is what works for me, now, in 2014. I reserve the right to change this as my life changes.

These terms don’t work for everyone. If you use other terms, and care to share what and why, please do so. I accept your choices and ask you to grant me the same freedom.

My mother is my adoptive mother, who has been in my life since I was 4 days old. When it will be confusing to refer to her as just “mother,” I’ll add the qualifier “adoptive.”

My first mother is the woman who gave birth to me and who I reunited with more than three decades later. It is almost always confusing to refer to her as just “mother,” but I do that sometimes, too.

My father is my adoptive father, who has been dead for 15 years at this point. My biological father is not involved in my life, by his choice, and as we have no relationship for me to comment on, and he was only part of my conception, the more scientific and distancing term, which is what I was taught as I grew up, still seems suitable here.

My brother is my adopted brother.

Everyone beyond immediate family is just family, referred to by their relationship to me, and probably rarely, as for the most part, I don’t find them complicated enough to bear much writing about. Context should explain which family they belong to.


2 thoughts on “Terminology

  1. I m sorry for your father’s non involvement. Being a father on the outside, wishing to be drawn in, and largely by my daughter I am. I love her dearly, want the best for her, its not easy keeping a lid on how I feel so as not to ruffle feathers. My daughter & I are forming bonds, I am her father I want her to be proud of that, and who she is.


    • Relationships have to be mutual, and I’m sorry he doesn’t want one. But I am always heartened to see or hear from or know involved fathers. I wish you and your daughter well.


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