Adopted?? Really??

A pet peeve of mine.

I know that surprises you that someone as un-opinionated as I am would even have a pet peeve. Ha.

But, yes, this is a huge, ginormous pet peeve of the worst kind.

It is again a word choice issue.

I am an English major. I taught English for 6 years. I like words. But I also very much understand the power of words. And I know that words can oftentimes be hurtful and misunderstood.

Today’s pet peeve is the overuse and misuse of the word adoption.

These days people adopt a highway, adopt a pet, adopt a school, and adopt a family for Christmas. I hate it.

Companies or families that adopt a highway or a school can do so and never really even do anything of worth to benefit said highway or school, and guess what? The next year they may change their mind and adopt a different part of the highway or a different school. They may decide to just not adopt anything this year. Maybe the budget won’t allow it. Maybe their mission has switched its focus.

Families adopt a pet and then change their mind a year later when the dog is not the cute puppy it was a year ago. Or if it doesn’t work out, if the dog bites a family member, then the family gets rid of the dog. See ya.

A class or a church may adopt a family for Christmas one year and lavish them with fine gifts and a meal for the holiday. But guess what? There’s no guarantee that that class or church will show up the next time Christmas rolls around.

These examples of “adoption” send the wrong –absolute wrong meaning of the word to my adopted child, his siblings, and his friends. How confusing to him when we had to get rid of the dog we adopted because we were unable to train him. How confusing to see 2 dozen signs on the highway saying this section adopted by Such n Such Company. Adopted? Really?

I know the English language well enough to know that adoption is not the only word with multiple meanings and uses. I know that.

But something as precious and sensitive and personal as adoption should have its own word. Its own word to clear up any misconception.

It’s important to me that my son understand that adoption is forever. It’s important that he know that even if he growls at a family member or destroys a prized possession, he is still forever mine. It’s important that he know that even if there’s more trash strewn alongside his median than we had planned for, we will continue to care for him. It’s important for him to know that his name isn’t going to go back “into the pot” when we’re done with him.

A pet peeve? Yes. Yes, it is.

One that I’m willing to fight for and shout out against in hopes of change? No. I think my audience would not be very sympathetic to my pleas.

But you can be sure that I won’t use the word in those other contexts. And you can be sure that if you use the word in those contexts, I will surely cringe and silently wish that you’d used a different word.  That’s all.



3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Melissa Coco on July 6, 2013 at 8:12 AM

    Good point! 🙂


  2. Posted by Stan on July 7, 2013 at 3:37 AM

    Perhaps you should consider teaching your adopted kiddo not to growl at strangers or destroy prized possessions. Adopted kids get kicked to the curb (disrupted) aaaaalllllll the time.


    • Hi, Stan. Thanks for your comment. Of course I am teaching my son not to bite, growl, or destroy possessions. But guess what? He still does each of those things. But guess what else? We are in this for the long haul. I know disruption is a reality. It’s a heartbreaking reality. But it’s not his reality. Here, adoption is forever. It’s not easy. It’s not all hugs, kisses, and meaningful aopologies. But it’s forever. And it’s his reality. And I wish there weren’t confusing things to add to his anxieties over it.


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