That word is big in our house. It represents the decision that changed everything and it’s inseparable from pretty much everything since then. It’s loaded. Loaded with amazing memories of joy and exhaustion and excitement and frustration and anticipation and intense focus and painful waiting and travel and wondering . . . “Is this actually going to happen?” . . . “Is this really happening?” . . . “Did that really happen?” It has both stretched and strengthened our faith and our marriage and it has introduced us to spectacular people from all over the globe who also have adoption shaped stories
It is so much a part of us that we forget about it . . . but it is the first thing that people notice when they meet our family.
No question. It’s a big word in our house . . . but do we (and the people like us) own the rights to it?
Should I be offended when I see people adopting puppies or kittens or roads or beaches or trash cans? I know people who are. I also know of people who commit significant chunks of their lives to the causes of getting people to “adopt” things other than children.
There has been an increasing avalanche of the word “adoption” used as a marketing tool for virtually everything and I honestly don’t know how I feel about it. I’m torn. Conflicted. Right on the fence. So, I thought I might take a look at it from both sides in an attempt to start (for the first time ever on The Culture Blend) an online argument between all of my readers. I encourage both of you to be passionate, opinionated and keep the swearing to a minimum.
Point – Counterpoint
Point: Adoption is Sacred
For a family formed by adoption it feels cheap to attach the same word to a program designed to get people to pick up litter on their block. This is my family. These are my children. To compare them to a puppies (no matter how cute) is offensive.
Counterpoint: “Adoption” is a Word
Words carry multiple levels of meaning. Like “love”. I can love my kids and love my puppy. Obviously the type of love that I have for my kids is greater and stronger but it is not lessened by the fact that I also love my dog. Adopting animals is clearly a different kind of adoption but still fits within the definition of the word.
Ok. Puppies and kittens make some sense. Pets can be viable (albeit lower status than children) parts of the family. You bring them home, you feed them, you clean up their messes, you train them and you would be terribly sad if anything bad happened to them. Fair enough. But here’s the short list of other things you can “adopt” (click away).
- Whales, Butterflies, Goats, Dolphins, Wolves, Turtles and Puffins
- Streets, Roads, Blocks, Highways, Streams and Rivers
- Parks, Beaches, Wetlands, Rain Forests, Fields and Countries
- Rooms, Schools, Houses, Churches, Villages and Cities
- Fire Hydrants, Mailboxes, Flower Beds, Gardens and Toilets
- Pilots, Pastors, Potters, Sailors, Soldiers, Heros, Athletes and Atheists
- Politicians, Artists, Firemen, Policemen and Grandparents
- Unicorns, Spots, Small Businesses, Coral Reefs, Storm Drains and Canadians
Really? At what point does this become overkill?
Counterpoint – Accessibility and Free Speech
Attaching the word “adoption” to a “call to action” campaign of any kind gives people a concept to connect to. Lot’s of great programs rely on the volunteer help of other people and calling on them to “adopt” versus “support” or “sponsor” provides a humanized entry point that is less likely to scare them off. People can get on board with adopting something but they don’t need another time/money consuming commitment. Also, even if it is overkill, that’s our right, right?
Point – What do adopted kids think?
My kids are proud of the adoption part of their story and they should be. They love to hear about the journey that led to us and them coming together. We worked and saved and prayed and cried and celebrated hard all because they were more precious and more valuable than anything we could ever dream of. There is great worth in adoption. And hey, for a price we could also adopt a toilet.
What does that do to their perspective of adoption?
Counterpoint -Don’t be so touchy
You don’t see non-adopted kids getting all offended by people who claim that their pets are their actual children. You know who I’m talking about. They are well meaning and absolutely convinced. They set a place for their dog at the table, buy him clothes, shoes, pedicures, back rubs, doggy waffles and Christmas presents. Ask them how many are in their family and you’ll get something like,
“Oh just me and my wife and three kids. Julie’s in 6th grade, she’s our ballet dancer. Jakey’s in Kidergarten, just started Karate classes. And our youngest is Johnny. He’s a Cocker Spaniel and he loves Netflix.”
Those people are awkward to be around . . . but as an actual, bonafide biological child of my parents I am not offended by them.
So what do you think?
Are you offended by flippant use of a personally special word? Annoyed by what seem to be oversensitive members of the adoption community? Disturbed by these Awkward Family Photos? Conflicted and on the fence with me? Indifferent but looking for a good blog fight?
This is your place. Have at it and pass it on.