Whitewashing Adoption: A Critique of 'Respectful Adoption Language'

28 Pages Posted: 6 Jan 2013 Last revised: 8 Jan 2013

Date Written: January 2, 2013


The terminology set known as Positive or Respectful Adoption Language (RAL) has proven to be a useful tool for reframing adoption in such a way as to make it more socially palatable to the public. However, this “whitewashing” also renders invisible some “inconvenient truths” which should be held under greater social scrutiny, and dismisses the experiences of many who have been affected by this industry, particularly mothers who have been separated from children by domestic or international adoption. This paper explores RAL in order to demonstrate how the use of language globally has contributed to the industrialization of adoption and the marginalization and objectification of mothers who are separated from their children by domestic infant adoption.

Keywords: adoption, mothers, exploitation, women's rights, women's studies, social work, human rights, language, ethics

Suggested Citation

Buterbaugh, Karen, Whitewashing Adoption: A Critique of 'Respectful Adoption Language' (January 2, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2195774 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2195774

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