Monday, February 20, 2012

Sometimes we are dumb.

                                                                   Ruthie Millicent

We did an awesomely dumb thing this weekend.
We acquired a new dog.

She's marvelous. Beautiful, sleek, soft. Strong yet submissive, gentle on a leash, very soft mouth when taking a biscuit. Needs training. Needs confidence building. Needs attention. Likes to interact with children but isn't *too* interested in them. Lets an elderly three-legged beagle boss her around. Snores loudly.

She's a sweetheart of a pup who I think could go far--we're aiming to get her canine good citizenship and then hopefully get her into a special corps of therapy dogs of her breed. Trained and coordinated by a local breed rescue group they work with special needs kids/adults with autism/seniors...

We love her and she is bringing us much needed joy and distraction.

Notice I did not say that we "adopted" a new dog (although that is the language that rolls most easily off my tongue when talking abut getting a puppers from the city animal shelter.) I purposely did not use this phrase because I am taking some time to really think through questionable adoption language. What does it mean when I say we "adopted a dog"? What does it mean when I say it in front of my children (some of whom were themselves adopted)? What does it mean when my choice of words inadvertently reinforce the notion that anyone with a fist full of cash can go and adopt a child?

Adopting a dog is not the same as adopting a child. Adopting a highway is not the same as adopting a child. Adopting a law is not the same as adopting a child, nor is adopting a stretch of highway.

There is a good discussion of this topic going on at one of the adoption forums that I haunt. Lots of intelligent points of view being shared by parents who have encountered all manner of questionable adoption language. Parents who have been asked (as recently as last week) "How much did she cost?" by jovial passers-by looking to start a supermarket conversation. Parents who have been asked the details of their child's background history--in front of the child, but with no acknowledgement of the child as a person in and of herself.

So many of these statements and questions are made out of curiosity with no ill intent. I get that. But they are also often made with no real thought to the child involved.

A blogger who I much admire did a wonderful post on this subject not that long ago, and the comments on her post are well worth a read:
Just because the word is the same...

Lots to think about.

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