You've seen them:
- Adopt a Highway
- Adopt a Stream
- Adopt a Zoo Animal
- Adopt an Angel (providing gifts at Christmas time)
I do not believe that employing "adopt-a-_____" is meant to deliberately misuse the word or lesson the true meaning of adoption. Instead, I suspect that no one has stopped to think about the implications of such a campaign name or the message it might send about the true meaning of adoption not only to adoptive families and their children but to other families and children as well. "Adopt-a-____" became popular during a time when adoption was not as prevalent, obvious, or publicly talked about as it is today.
Adoption, fund raising, and outreach programs are all important, vital aspects of our society today. In fact, recent statistics suggest that one-third of the nation is touched by adoption within their immediate families, and that number continues to grow each year. But, many adoptive families cringe when the concept of adoption is used as a way to solicit financial support or sponsorship, even when it is for a good cause. Many organizations use the term because it captures people's emotions; it hooks them and makes them feel more committed to a particular cause, therefore supporting it with contributions.
Adoption is more than purchasing gifts during the holiday season or making a financial contribution to a charitable organization or promising to help pick up litter along the side of a road some where. Adoption is an age-old way of joining a loving family...forever. Adoption creates a sacred, legal, and everlasting bond between a child and a parent. Adoption is not a sponsorship. When a child is adopted, he or she becomes a permanent part of a family; it is a permanent commitment.
My daughter once explained adoption to a preschool friend as "when a baby needs a mommy or a mommy and a daddy or maybe just a daddy and they get to be a family forever." Simple? Yes. But at that point in time, that was her understanding of adoption and how we came to be a family. That understanding has changed as she has grown up, as it should. However, I do not want her to wrongly associate adoption with the relatively simple act of providing gifts for children in need or writing a check to some organization some where.
Simply put, adoption is adoption. It is not about a short-term project, gift giving, or holiday assistance. One concept should not be misused in service to the other. Thoughts, anyone?