Adoption agencies and authorities, support groups and families need to encourage everyone involved in this process to advocate for and live by a few simple style guidelines that would foster more accurate, objective and respectful coverage of adoptive families in the media and in society at large.
The problem is widespread. Think back to recent media coverage. For example, many obituaries of Maureen Reagan mentioned that her brother Michael was adopted. The fact that he was adopted 50 years ago was as relevant as information that someone else was born prematurely or by C-section. Coverage of the Tom Cruise-Nicole Kidman divorce has typically described the couple as having "two adopted children."
Again, the fact they were adopted is irrelevant. A spokesman for Cruise and Kidman said this kind of language is insulting. Through their word choices, even well-meaning journalists can and have inadvertently conveyed the misconception that adoptive families are somehow less genuine and permanent, and that people who were adopted --and their role in a family -- remain somehow different. The reality is that adoption is as valid a way of joining a family as birth.
I would urge that we reanalyze the way we speak and think about adoption and that we "encourage" journalists to use language that conveys the fact that adoptive families are just like any other, both in law and in loving relationships.