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“Adopt-a” Programs - Good wording?
Posted: 17 December 2009 06:50 AM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  112

In my blog entry, “‘Adopt’ a New Word”, I discussed how using the word “adopt” for charitable programs makes my skin crawl.
Do you agree or do you think I’m being oversensitive?
Have you ever tried to change the wording of an “adopt-a” program?

Posted: 18 December 2009 03:11 AM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  1

As an adopted child, i was really interested learning more about this after there was controversy at work because some people were encouraging an adopt-a-child program and one of my coworkers was offended by the name.

I find no offense to it, I never see “Adopt-a-<insert thing>” and feel that anyone is trying to offend or lessen what my parents did, and I myself will eventually do.  Neither did my parents when I asked them about it. 

I do want to add a comment that Webster’s dictionary actually includes “2 : to sponsor the care and maintenance of <adopt a highway>”, so it actually does include the use that people have been using for it.  another web definition is “assume: take on titles, offices, duties, responsibilities”, and a point I could make of this definition is there is no time frame set - so “adopting” a family for the holiday seasons is in essence - taking on the responsibilities of that family (some or all). 

And really, one person can love an animal just as much as a human can love a child - so why couldn’t there be “adopt-a-pet”, someone could really love to read, and I suppose in some strange way - someone could really love highways (though I would imagine it’s more of a love of nature and keeping it clean than a love of asphalt).  Who is to say whose love is more genuine or true? 

I did some research, and found that “Adopt” and “Adoption” are rather old words, originating from Latin - far before the creation of our modern notion of Adoption of children ever even existed. 

I guess I question the need to redefine the word “adopt” to be exclusive to the adoption of children (not so much in your post, but some of the other threads and thoughts on the web seemed to sway this way).  What exactly is our adoptive society looking to do?  I for one never wanted to be treated differently for being an adoptive child or to be an adoptive parent, and it really came across to me in many peoples posts on this subject that by restricting the use of the word adopt, we want to almost seem as “more loving” than regular parents or families. 

That’s my thoughts - it would bother me if they were trying to use it in a deragatory way, but they aren’t.  I suppose I would just treat it as a Homonym - there are two meanings to the word.  Use of it in one way doesn’t necessarily diminish the use of it in another.

*edit* I did want to also add that some other words, such as sponsor, could end up being offensive to others.  Since the term “sponsor” is also used for things such as AA or NA, some could take “sponsor-a-solider” to be something completely different than what it actually is.

Posted: 22 December 2009 04:08 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  40

Your post was timely and thought provoking. I visited the zoo web site in our area just this morning to find out when “Santa’s Reindeer” were coming, and left wondering how I “should” feel about the zoo’s popular Adopt-an-Animal program. Then I read your post and it got me thinking…. The first Christmas our daughter (adopted from China) was home with us, not one, but two loving, well-meaning relatives adopted Panda’s in her name! She received stuffed bears and adoption certificates. From one view, there are all kinds of things uncomfortable about this. From another, our relatives were trying to make a connection with our new child. I (home only weeks) was too exhausted to think about it really. Hanna only 10 months at the time was too young to understand. She loved the stuffed animals and I filed away the certificates. Five years have passed, Hanna’s awareness of adoption has grown, and we’ve encountered many Adopt-A programs from the highway to the neighbors next door who adopted a dog from the Humane Society—coincidentally on the very anniversary of the day we met our daughter in China. While I discreetly asked the neighbors not to draw any comparison between their dog and our child, they did adopt this pet into their family and are caring for it in the best sense of the word, so I did not ask they avoid saying adoption. I guess I can see both sides of what you so eloquently said. I do feel a little uncomfortable when I see the word tossed around, but I also notice it’s not being used in a derogatory sense. As of yet, I haven’t been compelled to take a stand against the wording in our community, but I do watch my daughter closely to see if she’s drawing any unintended meaning from the way the word is being used. While there are opportunities to educate the community at-large to a greater sensitivity (on many things), for now I tend to use the arising of the word as a teachable moment close to home to reinforce the beauty and meaning of adoption to our family and families like ours. So far so good. But, I’ll keep reading and thinking. Thanks, Stacy

Posted: 18 February 2010 09:56 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  16

This morning I received an e-mail from my sister-in-law entitled “We’re Adopting!”.  I was shocked and excited, and quickly opened it to find a photo of a puppy and a note about how they picked out our “niece” yesterday and would be picking her up this weekend.  It’s so sweet and I’m so happy for them.  We adopted our own puppy 5 years ago and certainly used that term.  So why did it strike a nerve with me this morning?  Is it because my SIL knows our infertility story, knows that we’ve been on this journey for 4+ years and will likely be waiting for another year or more?  It felt a bit insensitive - the wording, the cliffhanger with words that have such strong meaning to me right now… and then the light-heartedness of it, the reality that everything will have been done, finalized, and “niece” in arms in a few days.  Or maybe it was an attempt to connect with me, this SIL who in the past has consistently changed the subject when I’ve brought up our infertility.  Or, most likely, it had nothing to do with my husband and I.

I realize that the word adoption is simply the word adoption.  I realize that I’m just extra-sensitive to it this week, this day, this morning.  And adoptive parents in general may likely be more sensitive to this word forever because it’s always going to seem inconceivable to compare the adoption of a highway, a panda, or even a furry family member to a child.  But I really do think that in the end, the word adoption is just the word adoption.  It applies to all these situations and we, as child-adopting parents, don’t own it.  It’s just extra-special to us and others may never truly grasp the meaning, calling, and absolute love behind it.  Just my 2 cents.  smile

Posted: 19 February 2010 08:02 AM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  10

It seems most likely you are not bothered by the use of the word adoption as referring to adopting animals or highways but by the insensitivity of your sister-in-law.  I suspect that had you received a letter from a zoo advertising an adoption program that you would not have been bothered by it at all.  I can imagine how you felt to be waiting for a child and then to receive a letter from you sil stating they are adopting.  I would have jumped to the wrong conclusion as well.  When we were going through the process I often wondered if people could not talk with me about our infertility issues or our adoption plans out of guilt.  Maybe for women who had not tried to begin their family yet, we were a picture of their lives and fears if infertility happen to them.  With others who had children, I wonder if they felt guilty talking with us.  If they were thinking “I’m so glad that didn’t happen to me” or “How can I talk with them about this while my children are playing in the other room”.  Then others just pretended what we were going through was no big deal.  As if it aleviated their guilt by pretending nothing was really wrong with us.  I can’t count the woman that got pregnant but were afraid to tell me.  As if finding out from another friend or from seeing them start to show made me feel better.  I’m not saying that any of these woman had anything to feel guilty about just that it might explain their odd behavior or refusal to talk about the subject.  Then maybe people just got embarrassed.  Then I wonder if people thought our choice to adopt was us settling or “poor them they couldn’t have any of their own”  When in reality we never considered it second choice.  I was afraid that we would never get picked and scared I’d never be a mother.  All along I just wanted someone to talk to and to be treated normally.  Maybe a shoulder to cry on on occasion.  Then I wanted excitement and encouragement over our adoption plans.

Posted: 03 September 2010 12:00 AM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  16

Thanks for your reply and I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to reply myself!  I appreciate your understanding.  You’re totally right, my sadness came from the specific incident with my SIL, someone whom I’m not a huge fan of.  I just wanted to respond to what you said about how weird many people act.  It’s so true.  We’re often not told about pregnancies, we’ve had pregnant friends stop hanging out with us even though we assured them that we’re confident in our path and happy for theirs.  I think everything you said is true for some people.  Some people feel guilty, some awkward, some don’t know what to say, some feel pity, and then some just don’t want to be bothered.  I look at it this way… I don’t ask my pregnant friends if the baby kicked today, why should I expect them to ask if my ovulation produced any eggs or something similar?  Obviously a pregnancy is a visually noticeable thing and people do love to fawn over pregnant women, touch their belly, ask them questions.  But it’s not always wine and roses for pregnant women so I just sum it up by saying this - everyone will act as they know how, and that’s that.  We can’t judge it, take it personally, or even really think that it has anything to do with us.  Like you pointed out, they may be afraid of the topic because “what if it happens to me?”. 

Anyway, just wanted to thank you for your response and for your wise post.

Posted: 03 September 2015 01:59 AM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  1

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