Adopted or Adoptive?

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Difference between "Adopted" and "Adoptive"?

"Adopted" and "adoptive" are often confused by writers. The difference between "adopted" and "adoptive" is best explained with a simple example:
  • Mr. Smith says, "Sarah is my adopted daughter."
    Sarah says, "He is my adoptive father."


The adjective "adopted" describes the person who has been adopted. For example:
  • Charles loved his adopted daughter as if she were his own. correct tick


The adjective "adoptive" describes the person who has adopted. For example:
  • Rebecca loved her adoptive father as if he were her own. correct tick
adopted or adoptive

More Formal Definitions of Adopted and Adoptive

Adoption is the act of legally placing a child with parents (or parent) who are not its natural parents. It has the effect of severing the parental responsibilities and rights of the birth parents and transferring them to the adoptive parents.  The child is said to be adopted.  The adopted child has two sets of parents: its natural parents and its adoptive parents.

Use Adopted or Adoptive with Places

It's easier with places because you can use "adopted" or "adoptive." For example:
  • England is his adopted/adoptive country.
  • (Both are acceptable, but "adopted" is much more common.)

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