We have two kids -- one is adopted and the other is not. He's our blood child.

Is it correct to say so? For real parents we say birth parents. For real children of your own, we say what?

  • 2
    "blood relative" is a related term in English – Mark S. Dec 18 '16 at 22:29
  • Incidentally, there is a term with different implications -- "blood brother" (and by extension "blood sister"), which can mean a genetically-related brother or sister, or more commonly for this particular term, someone with whom one has sworn loyalty, sometimes via a ceremony involving their blood. – LiveMynd Dec 18 '16 at 23:28
  • Summing up all those answers: blood child is wrong. Just google it and you will see! Bioligical child is the usual term. – TonyK Dec 18 '16 at 23:58
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    Another point here: It's possible to have a child that is neither adopted nor what you are calling a blood child (But what an American at least would call a biological child.) What about a child conceived with donor eggs and/or sperm? Not adopted but not genetically related to at least one parent, either. – Loren Pechtel Dec 19 '16 at 5:59
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    @Yuri "Test tube baby" covers any situation where the fertilization occurred outside the woman, regardless of genetics. – Loren Pechtel Dec 20 '16 at 4:18

Yuri, I would say my biological child and my adopted or chosen child, but only if it was important to make that distinction. Normally, none of us should care. They are both/all your children and I would assumed equally wanted and loved.

Natural works but might lead to your other child to beg the question, "Am I unnatural?" Blood child might possibly be used in another place, but not in North America by English-speakers.

Sometimes people want information. That's fine, but we are under no obligation to assuage their curiosity. If the doctor needs to know, or a child is having a problem that makes telling the school the situation, then 'step-child' or adopted child is still the way to discuss or label them.

A stepchild is a child from your spouse's former union whom you have not adopted. If you adopt them, they are your child and all the adoptive words would apply

  • +1 thank you, very informative. now i know how to say that in proper English and what people think if I say that. – Yuri Dec 18 '16 at 20:09
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    is "stepchild" really appropriate for one's own adopted child? That doesn't seem correct to me. Stepchild is the child of one's spouse by a previous union. – ziggurism Dec 18 '16 at 21:00
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    Definitely "biological" child, but only if it's really relevant. – chrylis -cautiouslyoptimistic- Dec 18 '16 at 21:23
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    @WillowRex your third paragraph still appears to say that ones own adopted child is properly referred to as a "stepchild". You should either edit that paragraph to make it clear what children you're referring to, or remove the term. – ziggurism Dec 18 '16 at 21:47
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    I advise against the use of "natural" child, especially for ESL users. It used to be a term for a child born out of wedlock back when that was a big no-no. Nowadays, it is a somewhat archaic use, but 1) it can still be misunderstood, and 2) even when not misunderstood, it can carry the unpleasant association of calling your child a bastard. – rumtscho Dec 19 '16 at 12:00

"Child by blood" might be correct ("blood child" sounds much more sinister, like something out of a horror movie). However it's not a common expression, and in some contexts it might be weird, or at least impolite.

"Natural" child is a better expression. See for example this article Do parents favor natural children over adopted ones?

In families that might be made of children from different parents (like the Brady Bunch, you can distinguish your "children by blood" from your "children by marriage", although again this might seem weird to some people. "Stepchildren" is the proper term; however due to negative associations (like Cinderella's evil stepmother) some people don't like the whole "step-" prefix and prefer to say something like, "She's my wife's daughter," which automatically implies that she is not your own natural daughter.

  • uhum, so let's say your child is missing. you go to a police station and the guy asks you if the missing child is an adopted one or not (maybe for possible future DNA test or something). You'd say, "he's our child by blood." Is it OK? Or "he's our natural child" which one you'd go with or is more common? – Yuri Dec 18 '16 at 18:06
  • In the US the police wouldn't ask that question unless it was absolutely necessary to perform a DNA test for other reasons. But if it came up I would say "he's my adopted child" if he wasn't directly related to me and it was important that they know the DNA wouldn't match Otherwise I wouldn't say anything. Although if it did get to that point I would probably hire an attorney to manage that relationship, since it sounds like trouble. – Andrew Dec 18 '16 at 18:11
  • :-) yea, I really didn't give it much thought. you're right I probably need to get a lawyer to handle that. +1 – Yuri Dec 18 '16 at 18:17
  • is "stepchild" really appropriate for one's own adopted child? That doesn't seem correct to me. Stepchild is the child of one's spouse by a previous union. – ziggurism Dec 18 '16 at 21:01
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    I would say "He's our biological child.". Natural sounds very strange, like your adopted child is "unnatural". By blood is usually used in the context of "related by blood" (implying "by blood instead of marriage".) – stangdon Dec 18 '16 at 22:15

Using blood child may confuse the other person, but I believe your intended meaning would be understandable. Blood relatives is commonly used to refer broadly to a family of biologically related individuals. Blood brothers can refer, confusingly enough, to unrelated men who have sworn a blood oath, signified by literally cutting themselves and pressing the wounds together.

When the distinction matters for children, widely accepted as the sensitive way to express it is biological child. Contrariwise, someone who was adopted as an infant or newborn may as an adult seek out his birth mother or biological mother, with the latter sometimes shortened to biomom. I have never heard “biochild” used.

Simultaneously less sensitive or more dated ways to state it are

  • non-adopted child
  • natural child, natural-born child, or real child (using informal synonyms or euphemisms for biological)
  • mine or my child (emphasizing the possessive to imply biology)
  • had him or her the old fashioned way

The last refers to procreation, which makes it crude. Emphasizing the adoption or labeling biological children as “natural” or “real” others1 an adopted child. As parents must remind our children — step-, adopted, and biological — even though something is true, saying it may not be polite.

Less common ways to express it are flesh and blood, by blood, flesh and bone, or according to the flesh2, as in “he is my flesh and bone” or “she is my flesh-and-blood child” to emphasize the biological connection.

1 I find that usage as a verb grating, but Merriam-Webster defines it as “to treat or consider (a person or a group of people) as alien to oneself or one's group (as because of different racial, sexual, or cultural characteristics).”

2 Reflects similar usage in English translations of the Christian Bible (Genesis 2:23, Romans 9:8, Galatians 4:29).

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