Adopt a this, adopt a that

by Lori Lavender Luz on February 13, 2008

in Adoption language

My friend Joanne has a terrific post about one aspect of adoption language and its effect on a child of adoption.

Here’s an excerpt of a letter Joanne sent to her daughter’s Girl Scout leader a couple of months ago:

“Shawna told me about the stockings and that it was said in meeting that the troop is “adopting” two children for the holidays. I explained to her that the correct term to use in a case like this is “sponsoring”. I’m wondering if you can bring this up on Tuesday because using the word “adopting” (when clearly the troop is not adopting two children) sends mixed messages (not only to adoptees but society at large) as to what adoption actually is. Most people (unless you’ve adopted like us or are an adoptee like Shawna), don’t give it much though until someone points it out.”

You can read the Girl Scout leader’s positive response and the ensuing discussion at Forever Parents.

I see Adopt-a-Highway signs on my way to my kids’ school each day and haven’t given it much thought. I guess I’ll be writing a letter to my city council. I hope to advocate for my kids as well as Joanne does.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

May April 6, 2010 at 11:48 pm

Hmph… I never gave this much thought, either! Excellent point!

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beagle April 6, 2010 at 11:48 pm

For whatever reason, this word is really over- and mis- used these days.I spent some time with my nieces this weekend and they were all excited about their new web*kinz and the word adopt must have come up a couple dozen times in relation to a plush animal. The website perpetuates this idea. I guess they are playing on adopting a pet. For that matter what should we call adopting a pet? I think we do need to make a distinction. Great topic!

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katd April 6, 2010 at 11:48 pm

Joanne’s post really struck me, as well. I hadn’t even thought of how easily the phrase is thrown around, but it’s very true. She really inspires me to advocate more for Lily. Or really, to be more aware of things like this.

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Jen April 6, 2010 at 11:48 pm

Thanks for your post. And if you know any magic tricks to get me pregnant with a viable baby, I will take that over sweet, kind words anyday!

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Pamela April 6, 2010 at 11:48 pm

Words are powerful, which is why we need to be reminded about their meanings and how they can be (mis)interpreted.

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Aranne and Dan April 6, 2010 at 11:48 pm

This is SO true. And I love the comment about the “adopt a highway” signs.. In no way are you “adopting” that street. We really do need to re-think the way that we use that term and use it in the appropriate ways. This is definitely some food for thought for me and I will be sharing it with my friends and family and having them start thinking out of the box when it comes to choosing better terminology for sure!

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Joanne April 6, 2010 at 11:48 pm

Thanks for linking to my post. I had hoped it would get some people thinking. On a positive note I will say that every single person that I correct and try to educate on adoption language is very open to hearing what I have to say. I remember last year we had called the cops on my then 14 year old son (long story-maybe a blog post one day) and in talking to him he asked where his real parents were. Of course I corrected him and I told him that we were his real parents, and that what he meant to ask was where his biological parents were. He apologised. As he was leaving (with my son in the back of his car), he told me that he appreciated that I educated him and from now on he would use the words I had told him. I have found that time and time again, people are very open to learning more about adoption language…and that’s why I keep opening my mouth on the subject.

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Jen April 6, 2010 at 11:48 pm

Thanks for your post. And if you know any magic tricks to get me pregnant with a viable baby, I will take that over sweet, kind words anyday!

Reply

Pamela April 6, 2010 at 11:48 pm

Words are powerful, which is why we need to be reminded about their meanings and how they can be (mis)interpreted.

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Aranne and Dan April 6, 2010 at 11:48 pm

This is SO true. And I love the comment about the “adopt a highway” signs.. In no way are you “adopting” that street. We really do need to re-think the way that we use that term and use it in the appropriate ways. This is definitely some food for thought for me and I will be sharing it with my friends and family and having them start thinking out of the box when it comes to choosing better terminology for sure!

Reply

Lavender Luz April 6, 2010 at 11:48 pm

Joanne is great at making people think. I highly encourage interested people to join Forever Parents.

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Lollipop Goldstein April 6, 2010 at 11:48 pm

It is true about the power of words and how our word choice also conveys subconscious beliefs. Or sometimes just thoughtlessness :-) But I do always think about this when I see adopt-a-road signs. I wish they could rename the program.

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nancy April 6, 2010 at 11:48 pm

I went and read it all on Forever Parents and I thought that was wonderful. It brought a smile on my face that someone actually ~listened~ to someone else’s letter and took the time to respond in such a great way.

Reply

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