Language Barriers

In this blog, I use the term “have a child” to encompass all forms of having children – procreation, reproduction, adoption all included. I’ll start with some dictionary definitions to show you why.

procreate. produce young; reproduce
reproduce. produce offspring by a sexual or asexual process
adopt. legally take another’s child and bring it up as one’s own
family. a group consisting of parents and children living together in a household

We don’t use these words in a way that embraces all the different ways to form a family. The main problem is that we limit the phrase “having children” to refer to procreation. She’s having a baby. They had a boy. When someone adopts a child, we change our vocabulary. She’s adopting a baby. They adopted a boy. While a strict grammatical use of “having children” doesn’t really make sense in either context, the colloquial use does.

So why do we make a difference between “having a child” and “adopting a child”? I find the distinction unconvincing. To adopt a child is to “have a child” in the same way that to procreate is to “have a child.” Either way, you have a child. Once you get to the definition of “family,” it’s clear that there’s no difference between parents with “biokids” or “adoptikids.”

Our vocabulary is too narrow for even an elementary discussion of adoption let alone a robust one.

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