Choosing Change Blog

RSS RSS (What is this?)

View More Articles

Don't Adopt This Holiday Season

Please don't adopt this holiday season! Don't adopt a soldier, don't adopt a family, don't adopt a tree. Please stop misusing the word adoption. Adoption is a full and final legal transfer of parental rights and responsibilities. It is not temporary, momentary, or only for a season. It is not just about financial provision or assistance; I would call that sponsorship. It isn't cute, it isn't easy, and it isn't about kudos. 


Adoption is forever. Especially considering all of the discussion surrounding re-homing recently, it is important that we emphasize the permanency of adoption. Children who have joined families through adoption can have major anxiety about that relationship ending; not only have they already lost family at some point in their young life, but many harbor fears about rejection and abandonment. LIberal use of the word adoption can feed these deep-set anxieties in our children. Adoptive parents work every day to decrease fear and help our children feel safe, loved, and an essential part of their families. Watered-down usage of the word adoption can undo months of this work. Adoptive parents are committed to whatever work is necessary for our kids, but we can be awfully protective (read: mother bear) about things that hurt our children. Please don't make my child insecure for your marketing.
Yes, I will buy Christmas presents for my child and I make sure that he has clothes and shoes for school and I will ensure he has a Christmas dinner just like those of you who choose to "adopt a family" will, but there is a difference. I also make sure that he gets three nutritional meals each day and as many healthy snacks as possible, preparing most of it from scratch. I do the laundry. I wipe the tears. I wake up in the middle of the night any time he calls me. I help him practice his school work. I fund his activities. I take him to the doctor. I remind him to bathe and enforce bedtime. I am just a mother. I don't ask for or deserve any more recognition than any other mother. It is just what a mother does. But adoption is what made me a mother. When I adopted, I committed to the 24 hour a day responsibility, the work, the sleeplessness, and the heartache as much as the joy. 
Parenting is much bigger than writing a check, signing a card, shopping for strangers, or preparing a meal. Parenting takes up every possible thought, emotion, and moment. Parenting is as painful as it is wonderful. Sponsorship via an "adopt a family" program has an entirely different ratio. The time and financial cost are minimal. Programs would not survive if they asked too much of you. They try to balance the feel-good factor with the personal cost. Please don't misunderstand me; I think these programs are good for all involved. I help a church shop for children whose parents are in jail during the holiday season. This program, though, doesn't use word "adopt" in the title or marketing. My only issue with these programs is the misuse of the term adoption and the cultural misunderstanding it can create. Adoption is wonderful and amazing, but difficult and costly. I want prospective adoptive parents to walk in with eyes wide open. Most importantly, I want children to feel secure in their permanent place in their families and the commitment of their parents. 
This holiday season when considering sponsorship, outreach, and charitable giving, please avoid the phrase "adopt a…". If one of your favorite programs uses this phrase, talk to them about changing their marketing. While it may pull at the heartstrings, I'm afraid that it does more harm than good. If you post it on Facebook, I will hide it from my stream. I will avoid any display or table mentioning such things. I don't want my son to see such a frivolous use of a word that represents how important he is to me and our entire family. By next year, he will be able to read  the word "adopt". Can you help me eliminate seasonal adoption before then?  



Geoff 12/12/2013 4:54 PM
Having a beautiful daughter that was adopted internationally and yes it was costly with lawyers fees and the ton of documents ,paperwork and more paperwork. The process was difficult and I /We would do it again in an instance. being a stay home Dad I enjoyed your posting. There have been so many times that other parents dont realize the way they say things can be so hurtful. My daughter " was" adopted . not "is adopted". She may not be blood of my blood but she has my heart and I am wrapped tightly around her little finger. Yes I am her REAL dad ,my wife is her REAL mom. My wife is the "breadwinner" and I am the "home maker", alot of our friends and some of our relatives have a hard time accepting that I am the stay home parent but it works for us. Our daughter knows she was adopted , knows we love her completely and that she is our baby girl. she knows she has a "biological" mother and we have all the information & photos when she is ready to know more,if that day comes. we encourage her to learn about her heritage and culture. I do agree with your feelings about the liberal use of the word "adoption". thank you for the article. May your family have a happy ,safe and very enjoyeable Christmas!
Crystal 11/22/2013 2:56 PM
This is one of those things that I have to admit I've never really thought about or considered before. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. I will have to be more thoughtful about my use of the word "adoption" in the future. It's definitely not "just a word."
MC 11/21/2013 5:46 PM
Not sure I agree totally with you. I do understand what you are getting at, but I don't agree that Adoption is difficult and costly. It can be, but it isn't always. My son's both understand the word adoption and have been raised to embrace and love it. It is an amazing word that brings love and joy, not difficult and costly. thanks for sharing though.

All comments must be approved for appropriateness before they appear.

Your E-mail Address:
(required but not displayed)
Display name:
(required and displayed)
Verify you are a person: