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"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!

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

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