Why I Hate the Phrase, “Put up for Adoption”


why I hate put up for adoption

Hate is a strong word, I know.

There are many myths surrounding domestic adoption.  One of the most erroneous is that the birth mother doesn’t care about her child.  We need to put that myth to rest, right now.  She does.  She loves her baby.  She wants what is best for her child, even if that means placing them into the arms of another loving family. She puts her child at the forefront. It’s a decision that is not made without considerable difficulty, turmoil and grief.

This is why I struggle with the phrases “put up and gave up” for adoption”.

The phrase “Put up for adoption” is actually from the time of the orphan trains.  Orphans were placed on these trains and sent out to rural areas, where they were literally “put up” on a stage or platform for townspeople to inspect.  Some of these children were formally or informally adopted, some were used as labour or servants on farms. This is why the phrase really needs to fall out of favour.

Why “placed” instead of “gave up”?

A birth family doesn’t give up on the child.   To “put up” or “give up” sounds almost careless, as if the child will be forgotten or handed over without foresight.  It unintentionally downplays the magnitude of the decision.  The child is a part of the birth family forever.  They are the child’s roots. Their child is not unwanted.

The mother (and possibly partner), decide on the family they want their child to be raised by. They may go through endless profiles before finding the right family for their child. Their criteria could include specific region, degree of openness, religion, education, background, or even just something imperceptible that clicks.

They meet the family, exchange emails, texts, phone calls and possibly invite them to doctor appointments and even the birth.

Their child is placed, physically and emotionally, into the new family, and with openness the two families become forever intertwined.

With open adoption there are no secrets. The birth family won’t be left wondering how their child is growing up, or the child wondering who their birth family is, because they’ll know.  This is why keeping promises is so important.  With the child always kept at the forefront, there is no giving up.

This post by Canada Adopts sums it up perfectly:

A version of this post has also been shared at Canada Adopts.


3 thoughts on “Why I Hate the Phrase, “Put up for Adoption”

  1. Thank you for sharing the Canada Adopts message. It is very true, as are your words. I am a birth mother and my adoption was one of the last closed adoptions, and the term “gave up” has actually plagued me for years. I found my birth son, but he isn’t really interested in meeting. I struggle with wanting to tell him… face to face, that I didn’t “give him up” so much as I wanted to provide a life for him that I couldn’t have possibly given him at the time.

    I appreciate your post and would love to “borrow” the comment if you are OK with that. 🙂


    1. Thank you so much for sharing Judy. I hope that one day your son has a change of heart and you are able to meet. Please feel free to “borrow” the comment ;), you can easily embed it by clicking on the “like” button under the picture. Best wishes


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