I am a bit of a klutz. Trust me with delicate wine glass and I will probably break it. Spectacles run over by a jeep after I dropped them from my lap? Check. And let’s not talk about the dings on my car.
My cell phone? Yup. Monday morning, first thing, I dropped it, for the 2nd time, and broke the screen.
I headed down to my friendly Apple store, replaced the phone, and started to look at cases because clearly, mine was not doing the trick.
I was drawn to one section. From afar, the packaging looked cool, the cases were more grown-up and sophisticated looking, and I made my way over.
And there they were.
A wall of cases. A wall of ADOPTED.
I was incredulous, and even more so when I turned the box over and read the back.
Yup. Someone really did name their cell phone case company Adopted, and really and truly used the name GetAdopted.com
At first, I thought it had to be some kind of joke, although rolling these out in Apple stores is no joke.
Then, I wondered if perhaps it was just a poorly chosen name associated with a project like, perhaps, donating a percentage of profits to support adoption from foster care. Nope. Not that either.
I tried to puzzle it out in a way that made sense to me.
But I couldn’t.
Here’s what ADOPTED is:
Adopted is a new line of fashion technology accessories, focused on merging thoughtful design, expert craftsmanship, and exceptional materials. Adopted’s international team creates authentic, distinctive products which integrate seamlessly with your daily life; humanizing the digital with a considered approach to every detail. (via)
Hmmm. Here’s the reason the founders of Adopted chose the name:
David and Nora chose Adopted as the brand name to represent the conscious choice we make when deciding which technologies to integrate into our personal lives. We believe every accessory should be a tribute to the technology it supports, and a celebration of the person using it. (via)
This is the heart of why I have a problem with the use of the term Adopted when it comes to anything other than the very real and conscious act of adoption. Our family decision to adopt a child has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in common with the kind of decisions we make when choosing new technologies.
I can embrace my iPhone 4, but after I dropped it and broke it, darn right I upgraded to the 5. And I didn’t look back.
Adopting a technology which you will drop when the next one comes along is nothing, nothing AT ALL, like adopting a person into your life and heart. Calling something ADOPTED does not make that choice a more serious or long-lasting one, certainly not in the way our decision to become an adoptive family was.
We all flirt with technology and the gear of technology in our own ways. We are fickle. We change our cell phone cases on a whim, according to mood. We decide we’re tired of the look and that we need something new. We dabble.
And it’s this flirtation that is so upsetting to me when it comes to the Adopted brand.
To call an object of flirtation Adopted diminishes the seriousness of how families like mine come into being, the long term love and commitment that exists between families with members that make adoption plans for their children, those children (and the adults they become), and the families lucky enough to be in their lives through adoption.
Adoption is not as simple as a quick and easy financial transaction, nor is it as impermanent as a cell phone case, subject to the tides of fashion.
Steve Jobs, founder of Apple and adoptee, certainly understood the seriousness of adoption, the decisions made by birth families, and the lifelong legacy adoption has for all members of the adoption triad – birth families, adoptees, and adoptive families.
I question whether he would approve of the cavalier use of the word to sell products. And now, by selling these cases, his very company is participating in the oversimplification of the word itself.
Maybe the makers of Adopted cases want adopted folks to show their pride by sporting a case with the word ADOPTED on the side? (Insert sarcasm here.)
In fact, I am going to start cell phone case companies for all variations of life experiences: GetDivorced.com, GetSingleParent.com, GetAutism.com
It will be perfect! We can announce things about ourselves with our phones, without ever having to turn them on, log on to Facebook, and share private and personal information with only those we care about. We can just sport it on our phones!
Okay, of course that’s not what they meant with this. I’m sure there are good people behind the Adopted line and that they just didn’t think about it.
They thought about being “early adopters”, or those who are just a bit cooler than the rest of us because they embrace a technology before it hits the mainstream. But ADOPTED means something very different.
And that’s the problem. Adoption is still invisible in terms of that kind of thinking. And it’s time for those of us who take issue with this informal use of the word to speak out.
In 2010, Barb Lee, Director of the film Adopted, spoke to why it matters in her letter to the City of Aspen asking them to change the name of an Adopt-A-Tourist program. In her letter, she argued that the term is used too casually, too often, and means more than many people might imagine.
As an adult adoptee, please allow me to share something that these fine folks must not be aware of. The word adopted is very important and very complicated to so many families here in the valley and around the world. It’s a word that the adoption community embraces because it describes how we built our families and it’s a word which requires us to defend our families much too often. “Adopted” is used as the opposite of “real” children and “real” parents to minimize the sacred bonds adoptive parents have with their children…Sadly, it is used much too casually around adopted children, and it causes them to doubt their permanence, their safety and their true belonging to a family that loves them unconditionally and eternally. (via AdoptedtheMovie)
What Lee is telling all of us is that adoption is complicated, permanent, sometimes loaded, and worth more than casual usage.
It’s certainly true that not every adopted person has issues with the use of word adoption or the prevalence of the Adopt-A- programs I wish would end.
But many do.
In 1992, adoption advocate Patricia Irwin Johnston wrote about it quite simply when she said that “Adoption is a process by which families are planned and formed. To trivialize it in a commercial way insults the birthparents, adoptive parents, and adoptees who have been personally touched by this process. We no longer find it acceptable to trivialize other minority groups in this society…For the sake of children waiting for adoption and those who have already found their permanent families in adoption, we adults must insist that adoption be treated in a dignified manner.” (via)
In my mind, the ADOPTED cell phone case takes it to another level entirely, minimizing and commercializing a term that, to me, means the love I have for my child, the intensity of emotions connected to his birth family, the love shown by the foster family who cared for him, and the love I feel from him. And the seriousness with which all of us take our adoption.
Love and Commitment are more than a fashion statement.