Rescuing Pets and Adopting Children

Since I told you I was going to let go of any pressure to blog and only blog when I had something to say (you know like two days ago), I have had three blog ideas come into my head. One is about how much I appreciate my friends which I will likely get to eventually. Tonight though, I want to work from a thought that I tweeted not too long ago…

Can we all agree to “rescue” pets and to “adopt” children? This tweet was spurred by overhearing a conversation in a coffee shop in a city that was new to me. What I heard was two people talking about “adopting out” and how quickly they could move “Joe” from house to house. While I was contemplating asking total strangers not to use the term “adopt out” as I walked out with my coffee to go, I was able to figure out that they were likely talking about a dog. The introvert in me was relieved that I didn’t have to talk to strangers. While I might be hesitant to correct those I know sometimes, the spread of inappropriate adoption language is something that I feel a responsibility as an adoptive parent to try to stop.

My dog is certainly a part of my family. He is practically one of my children in how I am aware of his feelings, make sure he gets to do fun things, etc. I went through the pet home study process with a rescue group before he moved in, just like I did before adopting Mijo. There isn’t an animal lover that can fault me for how much we love and provide for our dog, except maybe in that we don’t let him get on the furniture (just his own bed). There isn’t a reason for animal advocates to hate on my blog. I won’t even say that I think children are more important than animals, although I’m pretty sure that is what I believe.

But without question, children are more sensitive to the nuances of languages than animals. I get why animal advocates would want to utilize language that suggests making a pet a member of the family as a part of their advertising to people. I get it, but as someone who is so very conscious of how children feel about adoption and how people in general talk about adoption, I just can’t be ok with it. Because animals are not as sensitive to the nuances of languages, phrases like “adopt out” and “adoptable” and even “given away” are used without much thought.

But those same phrases can make children feel expendable, like commodities, or lacking in value. As an adoptive mom, my ears immediately heard the one conversation about adoption in a large coffee shop in an unfamiliar city, so I guess I’m saying that such phrases hurt my heart as well. I would prefer we gave children more respect than animals and saved the terms of adoption for children.

I also want to reserve the “rescue” terms only for animals. When we are talking about the Humane Society or animal control, rescue can be pretty accurate. You could literally save an animal from death. Even if that might be true for a child, it’s not the most respectful thing to say. When you talk about saving a child from his or her previous life, you are judging how awful his or her previous life was, which includes all of the people in his or her previous life.

Children love and often idealize their biological families. Children need to believe that the people and the country that created them has value. While I am thrilled to have the privilege to love and parent Mijo, I wish he never had to leave his biological family or his country. I like to think I’m giving a good life, perhaps even more opportunity, but that will never make up for losing his biological family, his country, and his culture. I do my best, but I will always be second best no matter how awesome I am.

I don’t really want to be the mom who approaches strangers in coffee shops to ask them not to use offensive terms that they had no idea could be hurtful. I don’t want to embarrass people. I’m not all that big on talking to strangers anyway. But it’s my job as an adoptive mom. So can ya’ll help me? Can we rescue pets and adopt children? Can you help me by educating those you overhear, especially your family and friends?

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About Beyond Normal Mom

single mom by adoption re-defining family and going beyond normal

2 responses to “Rescuing Pets and Adopting Children”

  1. Daniel Ibn Zayd says :

    If we think about it, dogs actually have it better, since their pedigree and worth is based on their lineage and name, which are both often kept….

    Having said that, as an adoptee, I have to say I much prefer that the realm of adoption be truthful in its language. The Savior Complex that often comes into play in adoption is the same as for animals; the cute factor is the same; the history of adoption especially international adoption speaks of a kind of exoticism of race that is also seen on the animal side.

    Because honestly, just as many people think they are “rescuing” children, so the reverse of what you are proposing works just as well, unfortunately.

    I very much appreciate your sentiment here, but we need to face the truth: It isn’t the language that makes “children feel expendable, like commodities, or lacking in value”; it is adoption in and of itself. That the same term is used is condemnatory of a practice that perhaps should be reserved only for animals. This would be the logical conclusion of what you are stating here.

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