The Personal Becomes The Political


Okay, soooo the other day I was a small petting zoo with my kids. The kids were having a fantastic time petting the baby goats when a little friend came over to where Eliza and I were standing. She is very excited, grabs Eliza’s hand and says, “Do you know you can adopt a baby goat here!”

Eliza looked up at me with her big brown eyes and said, proudly,  “I adopted too, right mommy? Like a baby goat!”

I smiled…and my heart sank just a bit. (No actually, not like a goat at all.)

She and her friend laughed, and off they skipped to see if they could find out more about adopting a goat.

I was left wondering how long would she laugh at this? Being adopted like a farm animal…Maybe always, maybe not….

“It’s only a word for God Sake!” I can hear it now.  That would have been me a few years back as well.

I always promised myself I wouldn’t become one of those crazy, over the top, annoying, politically correct parents.  I think we should all laugh more, not take others or ourselves too seriously. Life is funny, people are strange. Who cares if someone says adopt a pet, a goat, a dog? Really? What does it matter? Oh boy, I guess it now matters to me.

The personal becomes the political.

My child is not a pet or a zoo animal.  “Adopting” a goat or a dog (and I know there are dog lovers out there) is not the same. When did society switch from saying, “help us sponsor a goat” or “Come and get a pet from the shelter today? Is everything in the world worthy of the word adoption? Did we actually think we were insulting the animals to use the words sponsor, bought or get? (Hush! Fluffy might hear you!).

We are not animals and, surprise, dogs are not humans!  Do we really think dogs or goats know what words we use?  No, they don’t, but children do.

Words matter. A few weeks back I was at a restaurant with my older daughter. The waitress brought me my soup but forgot a spoon, so when she came over and asked how the soup was I said, “I don’t know you forgot to get me a spoon.”

She threw her head back, laughed and in a very loud voice exclaimed, “OH MY GOD I am soooooooooo RETARDED!!”

My daughter and I both sort of sat there in shock.  “Wow,” I thought, “What if my child had Down syndrome or some other cognitive disability and I was sitting there hearing that?”

The personal becomes the political. Here is a great article that was on NPR about this very subject, titled, “Rethinking Retarded: Should It Leave The Lexicon?” (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=112479383).

Read it, it will make you think.

I am not perfect; I put my foot in my mouth constantly. I don’t want to be one of those people that everyone has to be extra cautious around, or for people to think I am easily offended. I am not.  We all need to laugh at ourselves and the politically correct movement has gone over the top in many ways (which is why Borat was such an awesome film!).

I am not going to hold it against someone when they say, “Oh, look, its adoption day at the animal shelter” but I know, inside I will wince a little bit.  I guess what I am saying is: words count. What we say influences how we think and how others think. So just try and choose wisely, I know I will.

The personal is the political. 

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4 responses »

  1. James knows he was adopted and has adapted to the word, understands it’s meaning and totally realizes the WHY because of it…Miss Olivia on the other hand, hasn’t a clue. I don’t know where she got the idea of this or how it even came about but she TRULY believes she was a Star in the sky that fell to the Earth when she was ready. She knows she fell very far away and Daddy and Auntie had to on a long trip to get her…But for now that is her story….I don’t think you have to use the word adopted ….Adoption is a HUGE word. In regards to an animal, it was explained to me that people like to hear the word ADOPT because it makes them feel like they are making that animal a part of the family….When they use the word Rescue, it sound like the animal was mistreated, abused, neglected ect….and people in general don’t want to take home an animal with issues…They want the perfect pet….and ADOPT makes it sound more perfect…to each is own is..whatever works for you….you take it as you hear it…whatever…..Anne you have a reason WHY you adopted Eliza….Forget everything else …She is yours and always will be….for know just go with it….When she is older you’ll explain it to her …She has her own story just like Olivia and James…xoxoxoxoxo

  2. As always, your post caused me to think and even research a bit. Thank you for inspiring me. Over time, children learn that the word “adopt” has several meanings. English is funny: Adopting a child is obviously a whole other matter than adopting a goat or a section of highway!

    Interestingly enough, the word is derived from the latin word “adoptare” which means ‘to choose.’ I like that.

    ADOPT
    1: to take by choice into a relationship; especially : to take voluntarily (a child of other parents) as one’s own child
    2: to take up and practice or use
    3: to accept formally and put into effect
    4: to choose (a textbook) for required study in a course
    5: to sponsor the care and maintenance of

  3. I don’t see the negative in “adopting” a pet..it also includes loving, nurturing,protecting,hanging in there forever no matter what..at least that is what it means to our family and the friends I know who were lucky enough to find such pals to go through life with.I in no way think that word used in that context demeans anything about the process of adopting children…in fact I think the use of the word as connected to pets is a spin off from the positive experience parents have with adoption and the love and commitment they feel for their kids…Just saying…

  4. I completely agree with you about word choice. When we see other people use words that should not be used to describe a mistake (as was retarded) or adoption when it refers to animals.When people use important words so recklessly without any care of what it may mean to someone, it bothers and hurts our hearts sometimes, What I try to do is, if someone is close to me I will usually say something to them and explain why using those words are inappropriate and offensive to others. When it’s just a random person I think about it but don’t say anything because, I won’t be around the person and won’t need to deal with the same discomfort every time they use meaningful words without any thought, regard, or respect.
    I love reading your blog! Keep it up!

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