"Fostering"; and "adopting" animals

(51 Posts)
MooseyMouse Mon 09-Sep-13 07:13:09

I hear these phrases more and more and I hate it. "I'm fostering a puppy" or "I'm going to adopt a cat" or "Could you be a foster home for a dog?"

It really bugs me. I think it demeans the fostering and adoption of children. I think animals are "rehomed" rather than "adopted". I don't like the thought that my son is "adopted" just like next door's dog.

Is it just me?!

Moan over!

MooseyMouse Mon 09-Sep-13 07:14:43

Aaaaagh! Random punctuation in the thread title. That'll bug me even more than the issue I'm posting about.

lougle Mon 09-Sep-13 07:18:07

It doesn't demean children. Fostering is just that -a dog foster carer is giving the dog everything they need until they are found a suitable home.

MrsWolowitz Mon 09-Sep-13 07:19:46

I think you're over thinking it.

In animal realms adoption means rehoming but fostering is temporarily looking after an animal while it waits to be rehomed/adopted.

Seems like a very minor thing to be bothered by.

AngelsWithSilverWings Mon 09-Sep-13 07:21:50

I understand what you mean. I always look anxiously at my DS when those pay £4 a month adopt a tiger adverts come on.

I just hope he doesn't think we are paying £4 p/m for him!

Lilka Mon 09-Sep-13 10:25:10

Adoption is of those words with more than one meaning. You can adopt an idea or adopt a policy, or adopt a new way of doing something and that's not demeaning anybody.

When it comes to animals I'm fine with it as long we're describing bringing something into the home. Fostering a dog is exactly what it is. There's no other word for it, if you're caring for a dog temporarily you're fostering it. Adopting the dog - I consider it adoption as well. I adopted my cat from a shelter many years ago, and my kids talk about adopting another one (I'm not lisnteing to them yet though - maybe in a couple of years time) - they like the idea that our family should be completely formed from adoption, including the pets.

Now, 'adopting' a road or a Snow Leopard...no. That's sponsoring. If you're not bringing a lovely bit of tarmac home to love and make your own, you're not adopting it. It's not a correct use of the word.

I DO find 'adopt a family' schemes demeaning. Again, it's sponsoring, but the use of the word adopt in relation to such a family, I do find that a bit insulting really. Can't quite put my finger on why, but it really grates.

Devora Mon 09-Sep-13 16:27:24

OP, I know what you mean. It grates on me too. But the truth is that this is not an invalid use of language - it's just that we're forced to use this multifunctional word to convey something that we want our dc to understand as special and specific. We're going to have to suck it up, I'm afraid.

MooseyMouse Mon 09-Sep-13 16:48:44

Well I agree that it's not one of life's biggest problems! Just one of those things that bugs me. I suppose, given that I'm not the queen if the world, I'll have to put up with it. grin

2old2beamum Mon 09-Sep-13 18:19:21

MooseyMouse it may not be the biggest problem but it irritates me beyond words. Btw do these little doggies get the same the legal inheritance rights our children get grin

Kewcumber Mon 09-Sep-13 19:08:04

I try not to let it grate on me Moosey but I fail miserably. Walking your adopted 6 year old who's just learnt to read around a zoo is an exercise in how to make my blood pressure rise.

Every bloody corner has a big sign up about adopting a Lion or an Elephant or a ferret or a mongoose.

Organisations love to use "adopted" because its more emotive than sponsor and more people put their hands in their pockets and it doesn't mean "rehoming" MrsW - it means "donate some money and we'll pretend you are sponsoring some specific cute animal.

I have taken the approach with DS that its funny - and maybe if you adopt an Elephant it will have to come and live with you and a social worker will come and check on it periodically.

You'e not overthinking because its something most adopted children have to deal with at some point - you just need to settle on a way which works for you.

Kewcumber Mon 09-Sep-13 19:10:20

Angels - don;t be anxious about it - I would just tell DS that if he only cost me £4/month that he would be an absolute bargain (mostly...)!

Maryz Tue 10-Sep-13 13:15:09

It really, really pisses me off.

Not so much if you actually do foster, or even adopt, a puppy, as in take them home and look after them and (in the case of adoption) keep them in your family forever.

But the "adopt a dolphin/panda/donkey" ads are misleading and confusing and just plain wrong.

Maryz Tue 10-Sep-13 13:16:04

Oh, and the asking for money to adopt ones have led to some awkward questions for children in school.

dd was asked on more than one occasion how much she cost hmm

Maryz Tue 10-Sep-13 13:16:05

Oh, and the asking for money to adopt ones have led to some awkward questions for children in school.

dd was asked on more than one occasion how much she cost hmm

Bowlersarm Tue 10-Sep-13 13:19:53

I don't agree that those words shouldn't be used for dogs and puppies, only humans.

Especially the word 'fostering' - it is much more of a mouthful to say 'this-is-Binky-who-I-am-just-looking-after-for-a-short-while-until-a-permanent-home-can-be-found-for-her' than 'this is my foster dog, Binky'

Maryz Tue 10-Sep-13 13:19:54

How did that happen?

Bowlersarm Tue 10-Sep-13 13:22:29

(Sorry about Binky what a rubbish name - the first one that popped into my head!)

Maryz Tue 10-Sep-13 13:24:35

grin at Binky.

What's your stance on pandas though? "This is a picture of my panda Winky who I have adopted, even though I have never met him and in fact he probably doesn't exist as he is a generic computer generated panda who has been adopted by a thousand people for a fiver each"

Bowlersarm Tue 10-Sep-13 13:27:30

Yes, I guess I would say that you were sponsoring Winky, or supported the panda charity perhaps?

MooseyMouse Tue 10-Sep-13 20:11:11

I think animal charities have appropriated the two words fairly recently and I don't like it.

When our little boy was placed with us for adoption I had a new manager in one of my jobs. I explained to him that I had just adopted a child and he said "I know how you feel. I've just adopted two dogs". hmm

Bowlersarm Tue 10-Sep-13 20:51:32

The trouble is OP your little boy means the world to you, but to your manager his dogs mean the world to him. Why does that make you right and him wrong?

Anyway, it's a moot point. Them's the words which are used in animal rescue. I can't see that they will change.

MooseyMouse Tue 10-Sep-13 20:58:01

I don't think getting two dogs gives him any insight whatsoever into what adopting a child feels like.

As I said above - I know we're stuck with these word being used in this way. It does bug me though.

FeegleFion Tue 10-Sep-13 21:05:29

It doesn't demean the fostering or adoption process of any child.

I've been a foster carer for dogs and have also adopted dogs. I'm actually proud to say so too.

Completely baffling and unnecessary to be upset by the terms being used by anyone other than those whom foster or adopt children. confused

Bowlersarm Tue 10-Sep-13 21:06:46

Why does he want an insight into what adopting a child feels like?

Kewcumber Tue 10-Sep-13 21:26:59

Bowler thats a very peculiar attitude to take. Of course he thinks a lot of his dogs and he loves them the way most people do.

And yes I think people who have pets but not children might imagine that how they feel about their pets is like having children but surely anyone who has children must know they aren;t in the slightest bit comparable confused

If someone said to you if your child was fighting a life threatening illness in hospital "I know just how you feel my dog was dangerously ill last week" - wouldn't you think it was a bit of that someone really thought it was comparable?

I love my cats dearly and would be devastated if anything were to happen to either one of them but really is is about 10,000 times easier in every way to adopt a pet than a child.

Anyone who can imagine this really doesn't have a good grip on reality!

Kewcumber Tue 10-Sep-13 21:30:46

Why are those who haven't fostered or adopted a human child so dismissive of how it feel to be compared to a panda? And quite possibly have it pointed out to you by school friends.

Its a bit like someone using racist terms because they've decided that it isn't racist.

At the very least I'd be reluctant to be so rude as to tell those who have experienced it that their experiences and opinions are irrelevant.

And I'm not sure anyone is talking about rehoming/adoption but adopting/sponsoring animals on TV/at zoos etc.

Bowlersarm Tue 10-Sep-13 21:33:30

Why have I got a peculiar attitude? Clearly foster and adopt are words used in animal rescues - it wasn't me that made them up!

Kewcumber Tue 10-Sep-13 21:42:14

No I mean a bit peculiar to say that how people feel about animals and children are the same and its unreasonable to say that you find that approach odd - and I speak as a devoted parent and pet owner.

claraschu Tue 10-Sep-13 21:47:29

The OP wasn't talking about long distance panda sponsoring. She was talking about the cats and dogs you get from rescue centres.

I don't mind people using the word adopt when referring to pets; I think it shows respect for the animals, not disrespect for the children. I do object to the idea of "owning" a pet. Animals are free spirits, not objects to be owned. I think a dog or cat is closer to a child (whom you adopt) than to a chair (which you own).

Bowlersarm Tue 10-Sep-13 21:55:23

If i got a dog from a rescue centre I would have no problem saying that my dog is a rescue dog. However, if someone told me they had adopted their dog I would have absolutely no problem with that either.

I find it peculiar that people have such an issue with it, tbh.

Devora Tue 10-Sep-13 22:01:02

Are you an adoptive parent, Bowlersarm?

Bowlersarm Tue 10-Sep-13 22:03:36


Kewcumber Tue 10-Sep-13 22:54:44

sorry clara - you're right OP was referring to rescue pets, the thread later moved on to sponsoring vs adoption.

Kewcumber Tue 10-Sep-13 22:59:39

I don;t personally have an issue with it but then thats because I don;t know anyone who talks about their pets being "adopted" and haven't had to consider how I explain this to my child.

I was referring to your post that OP was unreasonable to think that "adopting" her colleagues dogs was not at all equivalent to adopting children. Even without getting into the relative emotion involved, practically the two are so very different that you can't realistically claim to have any insight into adopting children if you have adopted pets.

Kewcumber Tue 10-Sep-13 23:08:24

I don't personally have any particular issue with people calling their pets "adopted" (though I do find it a bit anthropomorphic and unnecessary). However I am extremely surprised to find so many people who haven't adopted children (human children to be clear) so totally dismissive of a parents feelings about the use of the word applied equally to animals and children and how it makes them worry about how their children would react to it.

That baffles me more than anything.

Bowlers - I'm guessing Devora asked if you were an adoptive parent because there would be no reason for you to have "no problem" with adoption being used for an animal if you don't have an adopted child confused.

I don't object in the slightest to thin people being called "skinny minnies" either - I would however make an attempt to be empathetic to people who were thin who did object. Or at the very least pretend to empathise... rather than <<shrug>> "well its factually correct"

Maryz Tue 10-Sep-13 23:46:55

Yes, it's a bit like people who don't know anything about children with SN having no problem with referring to them as weird, isn't it?

Or "I'm white, so I don't mind if people call black people niggers, it's perfectly ok by me, why would anyone have an issue with it".

I accept these are exaggerations, but the "I'm baffled as to why you might find it annoying or offensive or dismissive" is really ridiculous.

If you are baffled, or if you genuinely have no idea why it is a problem, what's wrong with asking? And the best people to ask, surely, are those who have to explain day after day to their children that their adoption is not simply handing over a few quid, and taking a kitten home, or handing over a few quid and getting a photo sent once a year.

As for saying adopting a puppy and adopting a child are comparable, well, words fail me shock

Kewcumber Wed 11-Sep-13 11:11:08

On reflection overnight... why do you need to refer to pets as being "adopted" anyway? confused ALL pets are adopted. They all live permanently with a family which isn't their birth family (except I guess in the rare occaions where you keep one from birth with its parent also in the home), unless you are totally deranged and think that unless you specify that you have "adopted" a dog for fear that someone might think you gave birth to them?

"Foster" I get because it gets across the temporary nature.

Devora Wed 11-Sep-13 20:28:51

Bowlersarm, I asked if you have adopted (a child) because it would help me work out how to respond to your post.

If you have not adopted, I would probably tell you that the experience of adopting has changed my mind about many things that previously I had firm opinions on. I would suggest to you (but invitingly, not in a closing-down-debate kind of way) that you might learn interesting stuff if you ask us why we are being so apparently touchy and precious, rather than just telling us we're baffling you.

If you have adopted, I'd be interested to understand why you think this is an issue for others' children and not yours. Are your children very resilient, and do you think they came that way or how have you helped them develop that?

Bowlersarm Wed 11-Sep-13 21:10:25

Devora, this isn't an area I feel particularly strongly about, but I'll have a go at a chat about it.

In answer to your question-;

I have not adopted myself but I have second hand experience in that a good friend has two adopted children, a boy and a girl, now teenagers but from virtually birth. My sister has fostered several children over the years, but not recently. A very good friend has a long term foster daughter. Another very good friend 'fosters' dogs as an ongoing concern, and has 'adopted' several dogs over the years.

All my three friends (not my sister) are also friends with each other. We all have dogs. We all dog walk together. My dog friend 'fosterer' is obsessed with her dogs, talks about them all the time, and it wouldn't have occurred to me that my other friends might be annoyed with the terms she uses. She does use the words foster and adopt in relation to her dogs, continually and she's involved in a rescue charity. My two other friends haven't indicated that they are remotely aware of it, and don't seem to have batted an eyelid.

Before I saw the thread I had no idea that people would resent the term to refer to animals as well as children. Possibly because my adopter/foster mother friends haven't taken offence to it.

That is my sole experience of it all.

Adopted can refer to other things as well; roads can be adopted, countries can be adopted, and I dare say other things as well. The word 'adopted' has never been exclusively used for children.

As I said previously, personally if I had a rescue dog I would call it a rescue dog rather than say it was adopted. That would just be my preference. If I was fostering a dog, I would say that, it's succinct, everyone would know what I meant, and I think that's the most suitable word for the process.

(I hope I'm not boring you.......)

Even though I can kind of see why the OP is indignant, and clearly children are more important than cats/dogs (to most people, but not for example to an elderly lady whose cat is everything to her) I also don't think she's right that her feelings matter more than her manager, or the lady in my example. (Am unsure that I have explained that bit well enough)

So whilst I have a little understanding that it might irritate/upset the OP it's all a moot point anyway. I think the words 'foster' and 'adopted' won't be disappearing from being used in conjunction with animals, particularly dogs and cats, in fact, I can imagine it being expanded to include all sorts of other animals.

Kewcumber Wed 11-Sep-13 21:22:01

I think you have misread the OP's comment about her manager - "I don't think getting two dogs gives him any insight whatsoever into what adopting a child feels like. "

That isn't saying she thinks her feelings are more important than his, is it? Unless I have misunderstood what she said - she was questioning he belief that getting a pet gave any insight into adopting a child.

Having done both I agree with her.

I don't think the OP was seriously thinking anyone was going to change the terminology in her own words she was having "a moan".

Out of interest when on earth did getting a pet become "adopting" one? Have had many pets over the years and haven't ever heard anyone call it "adopting".

colditz Wed 11-Sep-13 21:29:39

I love my sons. I love my dog.

They are two different things and I would be very angry if someone decided that this was the same type of love just because the word is the same.

Bowlersarm Wed 11-Sep-13 21:49:25

Well, I've said all I can really. I have no other views on the subject.

Devora - I would be interested in your response though.

Devora Wed 11-Sep-13 22:12:34

Bowlers, as I said upthread I find this use of the term grating but I accept the inevitable and am not going on a crusade about it. Adoptive families are a small proportion of the population and I don't expect the majority to go round worrying about us all the time!

Having said that, it is great when people take the time and interest to understand how life is for our children. I was having a similar conversation to this earlier today, when I met with my daughter's new nursery teacher. My daughter is black (in a very white area), is adopted, and has lesbian mothers and a sister with a different skin colour to her. Every time she goes out she is questioned and questioned about her basic identity - including by adult strangers. Many times every day she is exposed to casual comments which undermine her confidence in who she is.

I'm not precious and I accept that we all talk about life in a way that reflects our reality - and my family is really very alternative. But when you have a 3 year old who is struggling to come to terms with the concept of adoption - who some days talks about it with a big smile on her face, and on other days on the verge of tears - then inevitably every time she hears the term adoption used in a casual way to refer to a whole range of things, or hears adoption jokes, or people asking about her 'real' mother, then it's confusing and upsetting for her.

She's got to learn to manage this, I accept that. I'm not saying people shouldn't be allowed to talk about adopting dogs. But equally legitimate, I think, for adoptive parents to talk among themselves about how this impacts without being dismissed as ridiculous.

Do you agree?

Bowlersarm Wed 11-Sep-13 22:32:06

I do agree Devora.

Although I think the words in relation to animals are here to stay, so they will have to be accepted. And people who use them in relation to animals should be accepted as well. People who get their animals from rescues would be referred to as 'adopters' therefore it would be natural for them to follow suit and refer to themselves in the same way.

And can I just point out though, that I haven't said the word 'ridiculous' in relation to child adopters being annoyed, if that's what you think?

Because, I suppose, my friends haven't had an issue with it I have found it a little odd to find a thread about it, and because I am a dog owner/lover then I have been a little defensive from that point of view.

I shall mull over tonight and see if I've changed my mind!

I wish you well with your little girl.

Devora Wed 11-Sep-13 22:34:37

Thanks Bowlers smile

silverangel Fri 13-Sep-13 11:36:37

I'm an adopted adult and I can honestly say that it has never ever crossed my mind. I think, maybe, OP that maybe you're still accepting that your son is adopted??

Kewcumber Fri 13-Sep-13 11:52:40

silver - it might not have crossed your mind though its possible that you were adopted at a younger age than most children would be commonly these days. But I'll bet it crossed your mums a few times!

It isn't about accepting that your child is adopted - there is nothing to accept, it just is. I've never come across an adoptive parent with that issue (though I'm sure there must be).

But we do worry about what our children have to deal with which is generally more than children who weren't adopted and we can be sensitive to implications that adoption is a second rate thing and want to protect our children from that. No different from any other parent I guess - but there are specifics like this that it is nice to be able to moan about with other parents who have similar concerns.

silverangel Fri 13-Sep-13 12:42:38

You're right Kew - what I was trying to say was that it won't (hopefully) be a problem to the op's son...

MooseyMouse Fri 13-Sep-13 22:40:25

Thanks everyone for an interesting discussion. The terms still bug me but they're used more and more often so it's correct to say that I've got to live with it. And I take the point that their wide usage in animal rescue circles has no hurtful intent.

I appreciate the supportive and insightful comments from other adopters - thanks for letting me know it's not just me!

FamiliesShareGerms Sat 14-Sep-13 22:06:13

And here's a good example of a thread that uses the word "adoption" in the sort of context that could seriously upset even the most settled of adopted children angry

Lilka Sat 14-Sep-13 22:27:56

That thread...ouch

My DD1 got very upset one day because a woman who lives very near her was shouting at her little girl and threatening to put her up for adoption (and "bounce your head off the wall"). DD said "I wish she would put her up for adoption, <little girl> deserves better". But a good part of the reason she was upset was because she (me too) can't stand the flippant way some people use the phrase 'put up for adoption' as a stupid nasty threat to their kids, or a joke. DD went on to say "Adoption isn't a stupid joke or a bad thing, it's a good thing, and if you're threatening your kids with it, the poor things deserve to be adopted". Blunt, but she has very strong feelings. She's very happy to be adopted, but she's still sensitive to certain language just like parents are

I know that wasn't really about pets, sorry!

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now